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Waite Arboretum Labyrinth

The Waite Arboretum Labyrinth was created to be an aesthetically pleasing element linking the Urrbrae House Gardens and the Arboretum. The Labyrinth provides a beautiful, tranquil setting for contemplative walking – but feel free to run, skip or dance it!

The Labyrinth is located on the original site of Peter Waite’s tennis courts, overlooked from the Rose Garden with a wonderful view towards the Arboretum.

The lines of the labyrinth are formed with 921 timber rounds mostly recycled from Arboretum trees and the paths are sawdust. The whole installation is intended to be ephemeral or renewable and sit softly on the landscape.

Dr Jennifer Gardner, the former Curator of the Waite Arboretum, personally designed and constructed this labyrinth, completing it in mid January 2010. Jennifer states “It was an enormously pleasurable, stimulating and satisfying way to spend my Christmas holidays and I am delighted by how many children it has attracted to the gardens.”

All rounds used in the Labyrinth were collected from dead trees or fallen branches. It is a long standing policy that the Arboretum recycle timbers for carving, turning and other artworks giving the tree new life as objects of beauty.

Labyrinths are thought to date back 20,000 years and occur across continents and cultures in many different designs and materials. The pattern in the Waite Labyrinth was based on an ancient Finnish 9–circuit stone labyrinth.

Labyrinths have also long been recognised for their health benefitspromoting a calm mind and a place for mediation.

In colloquial English,  labyrinth  is generally synonymous with maze, but many contemporary scholars observe a distinction between the two. A maze refers to a complex branching puzzle with choices of path and direction, while a single-path (unicursal) labyrinth has only a single, non-branching path, which leads to the center . A labyrinth in this sense has an unambiguous route to the center and back and is not designed to be difficult to navigate.

Both the Latin  labyrinthus  and Ancient Greek labýrinthos mean ‘maze'.

In contemporary usage, however, labyrinths and mazes are distinguished as follows:

Labyrinth Maze
One simple continuous path (unicursal) to the centre and out again, no dead ends. A puzzle, confounding pathways with branching paths and dead ends.
The centre or ‘goal’ visible at all times. The centre or ‘goal’ hidden until you reach it.
Usually 2-dimensional or with very low divisional lines.

3-dimensional, dividing lines tall enough to obscure the goal.

Design may be marked with a variety of materials e.g. different coloured pavers, ceramic tiles, stones, low mounds, herbaceous borders, painted lines, depressions in clay tablets (hand labyrinths) – even timber rounds! Divisional lines made of hedges, vertical fabric partitions, masonry etc.
Urrbrae House Historic Precinct

Telephone: 8313 7497 or 83137110

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Waite Arboretum

Telephone: +61 8 8313 7405

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Waite Conservation Reserve

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Postal Address

Waite Campus
The University of Adelaide
SA 5005