Trail Well Worth The Effort & Wait!
21 years ago in 1997, a group of walkers realized the potential of a long distance walking trail on the eastern side of the Mt Lofty Ranges in South Australia. The attraction of a trail in this location is that it is in the “rain shadow” of the Mt Lofty Ranges thereby offering dry weather walking for much of the year.
This trail, 325 km long, called the Lavender Federation Trail, runs from Murray Bridge on the Murray River to Clare and connects with almost 100 km of link & loop trails to nearby towns & attractions through the Barossa & mid north.
The unique feature of this trail? It has been designed, built and maintained entirely by volunteers, the eldest 86. We understand it is the longest trail network in the country built entirely by volunteers.
The trail connects together the 1200 km Heysen, 35 km Riesling & 19 km Rattler trails and eventually, the 450 km Murray Coorong Trail now under construction from Cadell in the Riverland to Salt Creek on the Coorong.
As the trail is designed to pass through smaller towns & communities, they have been involved in all aspect of design and construction. In many areas, the trail traverses private land in the most attractive areas available at the suggestion of the land owner. In one case, the land owner after suggesting we traverse their property, constructed the trail installing trail infrastructure & will maintain it. The trail is mostly “off road” utilizing the unique “road reserves”, unmade road networks planned but never used that cover South Australia.
The trail is one of many contrasts and unique features. Past Monarto Zoo, the World’s largest zoo where exotic animals from around the World can be seen from the trail, many gullies, permanent water holes & high points with outstanding views. At Mt Beevor 50 km from Murray Bridge, looking south the Coorong & Southern Ocean/west is Mt Barker & Mt Lofty/north the Barossa Range/east is the River Murray. Passing through the Barossa, the temptation to stop at a winery, again tempting when the Clare Valley is reached. In the new section about to be opened the wind turbines at Waterloo & St Vincent Gulf can be viewed from one location. At one location the trail traverses just below a ridge metres from wind turbines.
We believe, South Australian Recreation Trails Incorporated (SARTI), who has been responsible for this project, that this is an outstanding example of community involvement in a volunteer project. It also is giving an economic benefit to small towns & communities as the trail is designed to highlight these areas. It is also an example of what can be achieved with the cooperation and assistance of Local & State Government authorities.
The trail is attracting Australia wide interest & being used by walking clubs & individuals from other states & those based in SA.
The official opening of the next section of trail ,the release of the latest map and the completion of the trail will take place at Clare on Saturday May 5th.