Sep 17, 2015

Jurong Eco-Garden: Nature Learning for kids, minus the Crowds!

I had previously included this gem of a find in my '12 Secret Places in Singapore to bring your Kids that are FREE!' blog post but I think the write-up was too short to do Jurong Eco-Garden justice. 

We actually stumbled onto the park while paying Thow Kwang Industry - home to one of the last surviving pottery dragon kilns in Singapore - a visit and what a find it turned out to be. Tucked away in the western region of Singapore (beside NTU), Jurong Eco-Garden is  the 'green lungs' of CleanTech Park and Singapore’s first freshwater swamp forest located within an industrial park.

Spread over four areas - Summit Forest, Wildlife Corridor, Stream Ravine and Freshwater Swamp Forest - the 5-hectare park intersperse building parcels seamlessly with green spaces. And the best part of it all? It was devoid of the usual crowds!

The first structure that caught our eye when we exited Thow Kwang was the Ficus Lookout point, where we enjoyed an aerial view of the freshwater swamp and the biodiversity in and around it.

One interesting fact that the monkies learnt was the lookpoint point is above the wildlife corridor, a 15m-wide underpass that serves as an animal crossing for wildlife such as the White-throated Kingfisher and the Green-crested Lizard. Pity we did not manage to spot any though.

The great thing about Jurong Eco-Garden is it is designed to be self-sustainable. Hence, the park boasts a suite of green features, including a holistic stormwater management system to collect rainwater for toilet flushing and irrigation.

There are informative panels all around which shows how filtered rainwater is used to irrigate the green roof and recollected after it seeps through the plants. The water is then stored in water tanks to supply water for flushing toilets and outdoor washing... which really intrigued the boys!

The Eco-Garden also has an amazing variety of wildlife and nature and is home to many birds, dragonflies, butterflies and insects.

There is even a Butterfly Garden where at least 26 different species of butterflies can be found... or at least that was what the panel claimed. We did not try spotting because the monkies had other places to explore.

The rocks that you see in the photo (which the monkies also had a great time hopping from rock to rock) is actually part of the filtration system which serves to cleanse the water before it flows to the next water body.

And that water body happens to be the 4,772 square metre swamp which is located in the first man-made freshwater swamp forest in Singapore. 

The swamp is a water source for the animals living in the garden and also serves as a central retention pond for storm water and captures about 65% of rainwater run-off which will then be recycled for other non-potable uses in the park.

For the boys, the highlight of the garden was this. The Composting Station.

The Composting Station features the processes how horticulture waste are converted into resources. There are 4 barrels filled with compost that are in varying degrees of decomposition, which can be opened so that visitors can view the soil, leaves and dead materials inside. Nothing like having science lessons so up close!

One portion of the garden that we did not had time to visit was the Summit Lookout, which was located all the way north of the garden (nearer to the CleanTech Buildings). But I have read that the Lookout offers a sprawling view of the park but more interestingly, the rocks that make up the summit’s lookout tower were excavated from the Jurong Rock Caverns - located at a depth of 130m beneath Banyan Basin on Jurong Island - and are 200 million years old!

Looks like we will have to pay Jurong Eco-Garden another visit then. Not that we mind, since I feel it is a wonderful place to expose nature to the kids minus the crowds... sort of bringing me back to my primary school days when I went on science school excursions!

Useful Information

Jurong Eco-Garden
1 Clean Tech Loop, Singapore 609434
Getting There:
By Car - Park at CleanTech One @ CleanTech Park, or at Thow Kwang Kiln entrance.
By Bus - Bus service 199. Alight at Nanyang Avenue (before Lorong Danau) and walk to Jurong Eco-Garden via Level 1 Lobby of CleanTech One.

Want to read more about the other 11 secret places in Singapore to bring you kids to? Visit HERE!

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