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Guide Banner 4 2015

By Trish and John Greenwood-Smith. Reproduced courtesy of Friends of the Warburton Trail.

Having already cycled several of Victoria's Rail Trails, in early October we set off to explore the Riesling Trail in South Australia's Clare Valley. Along the way we spent a delightful day riding in the Barossa, but the numerous large trucks reminded us of the relative safety of railtrails!

The Barossa and Clare Valleys, well known for wine production, provide a wide range of accommodation for tourists. We chose a cabin at the Clare Caravan Park. The Manageress was delighted, but a little bemused, that anyone would travel from Melbourne to ride their trail.

We were lucky to have a perfect day with clear blue skies and a temperature rising to the high 20's. The trail runs for 27 km between Clare and Auburn. We started at Clare in the old rail yards, where parking is available. There are also several well-signposted access points from the Main North Road and these could be used by cyclists to divert from the trail and explore the old country towns and vineyards close by. The first part of the trail is a gentle uphill gradient through the outskirts of Clare, revealing backyard views of many lovely old stone cottages. Then we were really out in the country, riding through cuttings shaded by gums or pines. The flowers, respectable native plants and noxious weeds, made colourful splashes of yellow, orange, purple and white. A most surprising garden escapee was Italian lavender. Birds were everywhere. We saw unfamiliar parrots as well as the usual magpies, thrushes and fantails.

At Sevenhill there is a road leading to the Sevenhill Cellars, Monastery and Church. This is not signposted. We paid a visit on the return trip. From Sevenhill it was mainly downhill, through Penwortham then out into open country, with wonderful views from the old railway embankments across vineyards clothed in fresh Spring green and paddocks invaded by the bright purple Paterson's urse ( known there as Salvation Jane). At Watervale and then Leasingham the trail veers slightly off the original rail alignment. There are remnants of old bridges there, which could not be restored. However, in several other spots, bridges over roads have been successfully replaced for cyclists. The trail is well constructed all the way, with a firm surface of fine gravel. There were some areas of minor erosion requiring care.