If you have ever wondered if there were ever cows at Dairy Farm Nature Park, the answer is yes.
Dairy Farm Nature Park: History and Origins of the Name
It was 1930 when the world’s first tropical dairy farm was established at the base of Bukit Timah Hill. Originally, the area was earmarked for pig farming but after an outbreak of swine fever, Fred Heron, Managing Director of Cold Storage, decided that there was a need for high quality, fresh milk in Singapore and converted the area to a milk farm instead.
He brought in 24 Friesian cows to Singapore from Holland and Australia and started a dairy farm in the area. Hence, setting down the basis for Dairy Farm Nature Park’s name.
Friesian cattle are a breed known for their dairy production. They are completely alien to the tropics and the Singapore dairy farm was an oddity that attracted a fair amount of worldwide attention.
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Today, the cows are gone. Nonetheless, they still resound with the name Dairy Farm Nature Park.
What to See and Do at Dairy Farm Nature Park
What we know today as Dairy Farm Nature Park was setup in 2009. Here are some of the things you can look forward to seeing at the nature park on a visit.
At a Glance
|Wallace Education Centre||Learn about the biodiversity found in the Dairy Farm Nature Park area and the work of Alfred Russel Wallace.|
|Wallace Trail||Go on a walk along a 2.2 km long trail to experience the local flora and fauna.|
|Singapore Quarry Wetland||View a wetland converted from a disused quarry.|
|Dairy Farm Quarry||Pay a visit to a disused quarry which has been reclaimed by nature.|
|Dairy Farm Loop||Take a challenging hike to the top of Bukit Timah Hill.|
1. Wallace Education Centre
Occupying a former cowshed, the Wallace Education Centre now has a permanent exhibition with different interactive zones. It serves as educational gallery for those who are visiting Dairy Farm Nature Park to learn about the biodiversity found in the Bukit Timah area as well as the biogeography of the wider Malay archipelago.
The Centre is named after naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace who was an English explorer, naturalist, and geographer, and a contemporary of Charles Darwin.
He lived from 8 January 1823 to 7 November 1913 and is well known for his visit to the Malay Archipelago in the 1800s, from 1854 to 1862, where he documented the different species in Singapore and those found in what is not Malaysia and Indonesia.
In 1854, while in Singapore, he spent some time collected specimens around the Bukit Timah Hill region.
His work around the region led him to observe the difference in animals found to the east and west of what is now called the Wallace Line.
The Wallace Line runs through Indonesia, between Borneo and Sulawesi, and through the Lombok Strait that separates Bali and Lombok.
The mammals and birds on the two sides of this line are distinct. To the west, is the Asian side while to the east is the Australian side. This led him to deduce that there are two separate biographic realms that meet along the now-called Wallace Line.
2. Wallace Trail
Originally opened in 2009, the Wallace Trail used to be a naturalistic trail that ran around the vicinity of the Wallace Education Centre.
In 2020, the Wallace Trail was extended and is now a 2.2 km nature trail that stretches from Hillview MRT station to the Wallace Education Centre.
It is demarcated by signboards that can be found at regular intervals, providing a information about the flora and fauna of Dairy Farm Nature Park, interpreted through Wallace’s perspective.
Many of the signboards do seem quite weathered though, but you can still glean plenty of information from them if you take the time to stop and read the informational panels.
They provide a way to learn about the history of the area, which Alfred Wallace visited back in 1854, and the species of animals that call it home.
Along the Wallace Trail, you can also take in the view of the secondary forest from a viewing deck.
3. Singapore Quarry Wetland
The Singapore Quarry Wetland is one of two quarries found at Dairy Farm Nature Park. The Singapore Quarry is located closer to Dairy Farm Nature Park Carpark A, away from the Wallace Trail.
The Singapore Quarry Wetland is a popular spot with birdwatchers, drawing them to Dairy Farm Nature Park. A viewing platform at the Quarry allows visitors to take in the splendid views of the water-filled former quarry.
4. Dairy Farm Quarry
The second quarry at Dairy Farm Nature Park is the Dairy Farm Quarry. It is way less dramatic than the Singapore Quarry as it has been filled in with earth.
Only the steep cliffs, now overgrown with vegetation, give a hint of it past.
Take note that there are several tracks that lead to the Dairy Farm Nature Park. If you are visiting it on foot, we highly recommend that you take the entrance that is close to Car Park A and make the trek in to the Dairy Farm Quarry.
We have seem some people recommend walking along the mountain biking trail close to the Wallace Education Centre to reach the Dairy Farm Quarry. This is highly ill-advised.
The mountain biking trail is for mountain bikes. Not only would you be interrupting their ride if you were to encounter any mountain bikers on the trail, but more importantly, it can be very dangerous. You could easily get hit by a mountain biker by accident.
Please keep to the designated hiking trails and reach the Dairy Farm Quarry by taking the trail close to Car Park A.
5. Dairy Farm Loop – Alternative Way to Bukit Timah Hill Summit
If you find the usual route to the top of Bukit Timah Hill from Hindhede Road too crowded, or have a love for pushing yourself to the limit, try making your way up to the top of Bukit Timah Hill from Dairy Farm Nature Park.
Its entrance is close to Carpark B with the turn-off along the Wallace Trail.
First make your way to the Dairy Farm Hut and from there, choose one of two routes along the Dairy Farm Loop to cut through the foothills of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to reach the summit.
The Lower Loop is pretty much a straight path that runs behind the Wallace Education Centre. It starts by making a gradual ascent up the hill but you can still expect to have to climb up and down some stairs as you make your way up the terrain leading towards the top of Bukit Timah Hill.
Perhaps the most challenging section of the Lower Loop is the Rengas Path – a fairly steep flight of stairs that ascend upwards toward the summit of Bukit Timah Hill.
The nickname of the Upper Loop is the Devil’s Stairs and there is good reason why it is called that. After crossing a small ravine with a little bubbling stream, you will arrive at the infamous Devil’s Stairs.
The Devil’s Stairs are a steep flight of stairs that lead straight up the hillside. The stairs just keep on coming and if you have chosen this route, just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Thankfully there are handrails to help climbers along and, if you need to, you can stop to take a break to catch your breath.
Be warned; the Dairy Farm Loop trekking route is classed as “Difficult”! However, we think that you will find a sense of accomplishment once you have completed it.
The Dairy Farm Loop eventually connects with the Main Summit Road of Bukit Timah Hill. You can then make your way to the top of Bukit Timah Hill from there.
One other recommendation that we have for you to consider is to take the Dairy Farm Loop up to the summit of Bukit Timah Hill, and the head down the Main Road to Hindhede Road.
From Hindhede Road, you can easily get on to the Rail Corridor, making your way back towards Dairy Farm Nature Park.
Useful Things to Know About Dairy Farm Nature Park
Here are some other useful things to know about Dairy Farm Nature Park.
Taking MRT to Dairy Farm Nature Park
The closest MRT Station to Dairy Farm Nature Park is Hillview MRT Station. Take Exit A and you will find yourself at the junction of Dairy Farm Road and Upper Bukit Timah Road.
There are two carparks at Dairy Farm Nature Park, A & B. Both of these can be found along Dairy Farm Road.
Carpark A is closer to MOE Adventure Centre and Rail Mall. Carpark B is closer to the Wallace Education Centre and Wallace Trail.
There are two toilets at Dairy Farm Nature Park.
One is at Car Park B while the second is at the Wallace Education Centre.
However, if you are closer towards Upper Bukit Timah Road, you can also head to the shops along the Rail Mall.
Food and Drinks
If you wish to get some food after a visit to Dairy Farm Nature Park, you can head over to Rail Mall where there is a wide selection of food available.
You can get everything from prata to noodles and cafe-style bites at Rail Mall.
If you just looking for a drink, there are vending machines at the shelter at Car Park B.
Visiting Dairy Farm Nature Park
Where: 100 Dairy Farm Rd, Singapore 679057
If you enjoyed this story, we think that you will enjoy reading this other story about Pulau Ubin where you can experience more of the outdoor life. Or perhaps you will enjoy this one on an outdoor activity on the water, something that you can do at one of our favourite parks in Singapore.