Sunday, June 17, 2007

Just a 15km Hike

Just a 15km hike, pretty flat, not very interesting, a few tracks. Well, that's what we were led to believe. Perhaps George Adams was trying out some reverse psychology. Yes, it was pretty flat, yes, it was only 15km, yes, it was predominately tracks, but no, it wasn't boring.

The Lavender Federation Trail
Day 1: Murray Bridge to Monarto

The hike started after some car shuffling, starting at the Murray River. Even though it was about 9.15am, there was still a morning mist over the river, but it lifted quickly. I think it had been -1C here in Murray Bridge last night. After posing for some photos beneath the sign marking the official start point on the Lavender Federation Trail, we headed off along the old wharf area. Lots of history about: old railway locos and carriages, old riverboats - both floating and sunken - old bridges, old machinery and old buildings.

After leaving the wharf area we walked through the wetlands, and through some streets on the outskirts of the town out into the open farming land. We followed the Adelaide to Melbourne railway, stopping for a morning snack.

Next up was Rocky Gully - a real highlight of the day's hike. George led us the rock which features on the front cover of the official map, so we sent some people up to recreate the photo. We meandered through the gully, the creek and railway also meandered through. As we passed out of the gully, we ate lunch.

We walked past the Monarto Zoological Park, seeing some giraffes in the distance, perhaps also some bison (Bev saw some) and something else I can't remember.

George laid on some coffee and biscuits, as two cars were sent back to Murray Bridge to get the cars. Just in time too, not so soon after we all got into the cars but it started raining. Thanks for George organising today's hike, and organising the car pooling and lollies enroute - not to mention his contribution through South Australian Recreational Trails. A good hike.

Did today's hike through Friends of the Heysen Trail, and will do the next hike on August 19 (2007) and a third one this year on October 21 (2007).
  • Distance: 15.5km
  • Hike time: 4 hours

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Lavender Federation Trail

The Trail
The 105km Lavender Federation Trail traverses the eastern flanks of the Mt Lofty Ranges, from the banks of the Murray River at Murray Bridge to the wine growing area of the Barossa at Springton in South Australia.

When complete, the trail is envisaged to continue over the Mt Lofty Ranges via the Barossa Range, past Angaston, Truro and Kapunda, to Clare, a journey of some 550km.

Trail Description
Beginning at Sturt Reserve, Murray Bridge on the banks of the Murray River, the Trail meanders past historic buildings, old riverboats undergoing restoration, past important wetland systems through to Rocky Gully Reserve on the outskirts of Murray Bridge.

This spectacular gully boasts steep rugged gorges with rocky outcrops and an abundance of native flora and fauna. At the northern side of Rocky Gully a loop trail provides rewarding views into the gully and a panorama across Murray Bridge. Allow at least three hours for this loop walk. Keep following the main trail and you may glimpse exotic animals as you pass the Monarto Zoological Park, an open range Bio Park.

Continue over grazing land and through forests to the eastern rim of the Bremner Valley. Then travel past abandoned stone farm houses, copper mines, along timeless creeks, over rock outcrops and ridges with views over the countryside.

The Trail makes its way to the summit of Mt Beevor, the most spectacular view of them all. To the north, the bush clad summit of Wirra Wirra peaks and the Barossa Range break the skyline, with glimpses of the Murray River to the east. On the edge of vision in the south, Lake Alexandrina stands out against the sand hills of the Coorong and the Southern Ocean while to the west, Mt Barker, Mt Lofty, Harrogate and the Bremner Valley complete the scene.

From Mt Beevor summit it’s a short walk via a spur trail to Diggers Rest north of Harrogate or continue to Tungkillo situated on the Adelaide to Mannum Road through quiet back roads, across creeks with an occasional glimpse of kangaroos. A loop trail north of Tungkillo allows a pleasant day walk or continue on the main track past spectacular rocky outcrops, open grazing country with views back to Mt Beevor and across the Murray Mallee. Gradually, glimpses of grapevines come into view as the trail reaches its current destination at Springton.

History of the Trail
The concept of the Trail came into being after a small group of walkers began to look for interesting walks in the hills to the west of Murray Bridge and found to their surprise a wealth of good walking country with high ridges, dramatic gorges, stately peaks and sweeping panoramas never before explored by walkers.

Since that time the idea of developing a trail between Murray Bridge and Clare has grown. Building of the Trail has been made possible with the financial and 'in-kind' assistance of State and Local Government authorities and local businesses and individuals. All track and administrative work has been performed by volunteers of South Australian Recreational Trails.

The Lavender Federation Trail is named in honour of the late Terry Lavender OAM, the architect of the trail and the first chairman of South Australian Recreation Trails.