Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Getting back to nature in the Barossa Valley

by Courtney Alderson for Barossa Blends

With national parks, passing vineyards, historic towns and areas of stunning natural beauty, the Barossa is a dream destination for hikers and nature-lovers alike.

Start your nature escape by exploring the gateway of the Barossa – Gawler. The town’s many parks, gardens and walking trails offer visitors a truly serene experience.

A must family visit is the Clonlea Recreation Park, home to Gawler first settlers. Enjoy a picnic on the lawn, while taking in the nearby Indigenous species garden, as the children take pleasure using the onsite recreational facilities.

Pack up the picnic hamper and head to Pioneer Park. Best known as the Remembrance Garden, Pioneer Park was the original site of Gawler’s first cemetery. Jodie Granthan, Gawler’s Manager of Economic Development says many of the town’s natural wonders hold historical significance also.

“Gawler has a range of park areas in which to get back to nature with,” she said. “Apex Park is a beautiful picnic and barbeque area that lights up during the festive season with its Christmas Riverbank display.

“The historic Dead Man’s Pass has a great walking track for the family to enjoy, as well as, barbeque facilities and nesting boxes for birds located by the North and South Para rivers. A project undertaken by the Rotary Club of Gawler to promote habitats for wildlife. “

Once you’ve spent a few hours in Gawler, it’s time to drive approximately 15 kilometres north-east of the town and stop at the Lyndoch Lavender Farm. Take a stroll through more than two hectares of this multi-award winning lavender farm, touching and smelling more than 90 different varieties.

“We provide scenic walks and gourmet food tasting,” Manager Mat Allanson said. “There’s a sheltered cafe offering light meals and wine tastings and a shop with a fantastic range of lavender products including toiletries, household products, plants and gifts.”

Fresh lavender scents will linger as you make your way to discover the wildlife and unforgettable scenery that’s to be found along the tracks of Mount Crawford Forest, near Williamstown.

Enjoy picnicking, bushwalking, camping and more at this 12,000-hectare belt of planted pine and native forest on the edge of the Barossa Ranges. With hundreds of kilometres of paths ranging from forest management tracks to ambling trails, it’s an ideal spot for hiking and mountain bike riding.

Close by, and very much suited for the fortune hunter, the Barossa Goldfields can be found within the Para Wirra Recreation Park. See the remnants of the gold-hunters labours by following along two interesting walking trail loops (1.2km and 5km). Each trail has interpretive signs that illustrate mining techniques, geology, treatment of ore and the lifestyles of people who lived there.

While in Williamstown, visit the Whispering Wall. Be fascinated by its unique acoustic effect that allows you to whisper at one end and have a friend hear your whisper more than 100 meters away. It is in fact, a retaining wall for the Barossa Reservoir and provides a scenic view of the reservoir.

Escape from the reservoir and let yourself wander away from the hustle and bustle of the main roads to the tranquillity of the Barossa’s less-trodden areas, starting at two of the state’s most well known long-distance trails, the Heysen and Mawson Trails.

Both trails have undergone re-developments allowing more options than ever for undertaking day trips and short overnight stays along the trails that conveniently start and finish in towns and make use of rural facilities on offer.

“Both trails offer a broad range of experiences and scenery as they traverse different landscapes, from the rolling valleys and orchards of the Mount Lofty Ranges and the famous vineyards of the Barossa and Clare Valleys, to the ancient rocky peaks and gorges of the Flinders Ranges,” Office for Recreation and Sport’s Project Manager Marty Krieg said.

The Kidman Trail also touches on the outskirts of the Barossa and offers visitors a multi-use horse riding, cycling and walking trail that traverses 269 kilometres of roadsides, forest tracks, private land and unmade road reserves, providing a scenic trail that highlights the natural beauty, cultural history and major points of interest.

Trail and Tour Listing
  • Altona CSR Landcare Reserve and Walking Trail
  • Barossa Bushgardens Regional Native Flora Centre
  • Barossa Goldfields Walking Trail
  • Barossa Heritage Trail
  • Barossa Scenic Heritage Drive
  • Church Hill State Heritage Walking Tour
  • Gawler Historic Main Street Walking Tour
  • Gawler Driving Tour
  • Jenkins Scrub
  • Lavender Federation Trail
  • Little Kaiser Stuhl
  • Mount Crawford Forest Summit
  • Mount Pleasant Summit
  • Para Road Wine Path
  • Steingarten
  • Tanunda Heritage Trail
  • The Heysen Trail
  • The Kidman Trail
  • The Mawson Trail
More information about Trails and Tours

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