April 16th 2014
Well, on a beautiful autumn day I decided to ride the Amy Gillett trail from its beginning near Oakbank all the way to its new terminus at Mt Torrens. I parked the car at Balhannah Oval about 3km from the trail start as the main road from there to the trail head is on a 60km/h limit and reasonably safe to ride.
The road is busy but its mostly wide enough to ride safely. You could park at Oakbank Racecourse 2.5km on, near “Rotten Row”‘, the private camping ground for horse racing tragics.
From here there’s a 0.5km section of main road with bike lanes but you then have to wait for a break in the traffic to cross the road to the start of the trail.
The trail runs straight into a tree lined cutting shielding you from the road noise.
Not far onwards the first rest area appears, then you cross Gillman Rd where a few trail riders park their cars for a safer start.
As the trail follows the main road you pass old buildings and cross local side roads and the creeks that run into the Onkaparinga River to the left of the road.
Then at Woodside stage 1 of the trail ends unceremoniously just before the Woodside Oval and you have to ride on the road for a short distance.
The trail signs direct you left and then right into Station Street, a quiet lane behind the main street.
At a newly paved cul de sac stage 2 of the trail starts off to the left.
A tree lined laneway takes you down the old rail line between the houses.
Shortly the trail gets near the main road again at Woodside North.
The trail leaves the rail alignment as the main road has been built over it. The parking bay a bit further on is what’s left of the “S” bend associated with the old level crossing. For a short distance you ride on a slightly widened footpath past a number of businesses.
Approaching Charleston the trail spears off across the cow paddocks. In spring this is where a swooping magpie is known to live.
In Charleston stage 2 ends at Newman Rd and a short section of widened footpath leads you to the start of stage 3.
The stage 3 entrance is currently disguised as a private driveway, the bunting and keep out signs have just been removed but the welcome mat isn’t out yet. The trail restarts just down the laneway.
Back at the main road the new trail on a disused rail line on a new steel bridge overlooks the modern road on a thorougly old stone bridge. I’m sure the builders of that bridge never envisaged the traffic their bridge would one day carry or that the future rail line beside it would have such a short life.
Now the trail gets interesting in my opinion, scenic wise and engineering wise. It has to climb out of the Onkaparinga valley catchment and cross the watershed to the Torrens River catchment. The embankments have been built to cross the local creeks at a higher level than the adjacent road.
The local farmers have of course been using the old rail alignment for decades to cross this creek so their continued access involved building a new access track as well as the shared trail. Some fencing is still to be done alongside paddock boundaries but the safety fencing for the trail is all in.
Finally the trail reaches the watershed and recrosses the main road.
Along the road a bit to the turn off back onto the railway alignment.
Which then heads downhill in an arrow straight fashion.
Just west of Mt Torrens township stage 3 of the trail ends at the Oval road. This is about 18km trail kms from Oakbank. The Oval road looks like it’s being rebuilt for sealing in the near future.
Finally you can rest up on the front verandah of the oval clubrooms, public toilets are to the left of the picture. Food and drink is available at the general store on the main street of Mt Torrens or at the pub if you prefer.
I imagine there will be a stage 4 to Birdwood and a stage 5 to Mt Pleasant one day, it will be a great trail if it does. Tree cutting work just past the end of stage 3 suggests it may happen sooner rather than later. Here’s hoping for more of that excellent trail.