So, the map says that this walk is fairly flat with only one big hill climb and a few other hills with only gentle gradients. We decided to extend our usual walking distance based on this (supposed) fact. 26 odd km walk was going to be a challenge, but we were keen to finish up the year perched on the edge of the Barossa Valley, so the last two walks were going to have to be long ones.
We picked the best of the two weekend days, being Sunday. The forecast was for 21°, cloudy early with cool breezes. It only got to 19° which was perfect for walking. Once we get walking we get quite warm even at this coolish temperature, and any breeze is always welcome.
Getting to Montacute Conservation Park is not a particularly easy task. Signage is not very evident, and the road into the park is a single
lane dirt “track”, or as Grant put it, an extended driveway. It is quite amazing that even though we were only a half hour from the city, it felt like we were in “Hillbilly” country a thousand miles from civilisation. One of the locals even confirmed this feeling. Looked like he had never had a hair cut or a beard trim, and I swear he had rope keeping his trousers up!
With the sun peaking through the trees, we headed up the road towards the Park. Not too long after, we encountered what would be the first of many encounters with the varied wild life.
The male koala was wondering up the road and as we approached perched himself up on an adjacent tree about chest height, sitting there just looking at us. Very social he was. Appeared like he was saying “g’day” in his own way. Funny that as soon as we left him, he started grunting. I think he was grumpy we left!
I made comment at that point that we could have a good “animal day” today, and sure enough five minutes down the road I heard a rustling in the grass and out slithered a Red Bellied Black Snake a half metre behind Grant’s feet. I know it was a red bellied black snake because it had, well, a red belly and the rest of it was, black! Over a meter long too. Shame I was a little slow with the camera. Next year I will have the Go Pro, so nothing will get missed.
Up and over the 300 metre high hill we noticed that we could see the northern part of the Adelaide plains. We were 550 meters above sea level (highest in this area) so views were pretty darn good. Grant’s keen eye caught sight of a couple very large birds. Very large birds! Two and then three Emu’s wandered out of the scrub and came up to the fire track for a short stroll before heading of the road and up the hill.
Add to the list, half a dozen Stumpies, Wallabies, and Kangaroos, as well as plenty of birds. At one stop, “Granpa’s Camp”, all we could hear was a dozen or so different twittering and chirping birds. Just awesome and quite therapeutic.
Montacute Conservation Park and the adjacent Cudlee Creek Native Forest are still really green from the decent winters rain. Some great spots for camping and picnics. Just not that easy to get to, in these parks.
There are many fire tracks looping through the Cudlee Creek Native Forest Reserve and mountain bike riding is allowed, although we did not see any on this day. Looks like a great spot for a ride. Beginners trails right up to advanced available. I cant believe on such a perfect day there was no one there.
Exiting the Reserve, we entered Snake Gully. An incredibly beautiful place with idylic properties. Each property we passed had large manicured lawns, lakes and almost resort like facilities. Grant wants to move there, but I doubt he will find anyone who wants to sell!
We wandered down the road a little further saying hello to a couple of young girls brushing down their horses and admiring the scenery. Saw something quite odd along this road I must say.
This area is part of the Torrens water catchment area, which means any water run off eventually ends up coming out our taps down on the plains. This was pretty well stated on a fence sign, but sitting right next to it was another sign warning of the risk to animals from poison baits being laid. What the!!!!
Now, I may be over reacting, but it is not a good look and not what I would consider filling the public with confidence about our water supplies.
The Heysen trail is pretty easy to follow, but we came across a section that we could not quite believe. The Heysen arrow on the post said to turn left, but when we looked, we could not see a path. There was just trees and grass. We stopped and looked at the sign again. We looked at where the track could be, both left and right, and then just shrugged our shoulders and walked in the direction the arrow was pointing.
Stunning views as we walked along a ridge top. Even had a friendly horse tag along for a bit.
Now getting back to the subject of the supposed flat terrain. The Heysen trail book indicated in numerous sections that it was relatively flat on this walk, so we had decided to make this a long walk thinking we could easily cope with the distance.
After about the tenth hill (well, felt like it), we were starting to tire and we were kinda wondering where the easy going flat bits were. Lets just say that the last five kilometres were quite a struggle. I think I now understand what “hitting the wall” means. We hit it and had to just keep on walking! There was an upside however. Our next walk was going to be quite a bit easier due to our fitness level being a little better (after recovery) and the distance a little shorter.
Valley Rd to Hill rd
Distance : 26.2kms
Time : 7 hours
Speed : 3.7 kms per hour. 4.4 kms per without breaks
Terrain : Wide fire tracks, roads and narrow walking tracks. Lots of hills.
Best part : The wildlife in Montacute Conservation Park and Cudlee Creek Forest