Adelaide to Willunga and back by Bikepaths.

An overnight cycle trip to McClaren Vale via established bikepaths  – a wine drinker’s paradise and Willunga Hill – a famous stage of the Tour Down Under.

The Indian summer gives us a perfect excuse for two days of fine weather riding, and we hope to link up bikepaths for the entire 100km return trip from Adelaide to Willunga. Well thats the plan!

Grade: Easy, mostly rolling country,  sealed paths, one steep (2.5km) uphill.

With no need of cold and wet gear and a room booked, our light pack comes in well under the maximum for our Topeak bags.

Packed and ready to roll
Packed and ready to roll

Mike Turtur Bikepath – Sturt River Linear Park

The Mike Turtur Bikepath, gives us an easy downhill to hook up with the Sturt River Linear Park path. Its not clearly signposted but easy to find, – just after Marion Road, near the Tram depot.

The route follows the river ( really a concrete floodway at this stage) moving from side to side over bridges and crossing a few busy roads, passing though small reserves and the backs of industrial and residential blocks. There are useful signs at each road crossing giving more info on the next stage of the ride.


Cockatoos enjoying the shade
Cockatoos enjoying the shade

We have been gently heading uphill getting nicely warmed up and finding the many wetlands and trees providing welcome shade as the day heats up. The path tunnels under the Southern Expressway and we turn Right onto the footpath of the Sturt Road and 100 meters ahead, is the start of the Veloway and the end of our shade.

Veloway bike path –  Sturt River to Noarlunga

It’s a hard and hot 2.5km climb to the top of O’Halloran Hill, but we are rewarded with great views and a wind that helps ease the humidity and heat. From here, the Veloway follows the Southern Expressway; surprisingly not noisy thanks to well designed landscaping.

Looking south from the Veloway
Looking south from the Veloway

The veloway comes to a T junction end with another bike path. With absolutely no signs anywhere, we take an educated guess and turn right, to discover that we are now on the Coast to Vines path.

Coast To Vines Bike Path – McClaren Vale

This route continues down a wide gully – with housing estates sprawling down the tops – where we find the first shelter, seating and much needed drinking water before it flattens out and we cross the Onkarparinga River.

Paddle boarders on the Onkaparinga River
Paddle boarders on the Onkaparinga River

Once past the Seacliff train station (a possible start point for those who want a shorter route) the path makes for easy riding though reserves and residential areas before plunging down though an old railway cutting, offering a cool pine scented respite from the heat.

Pedlers Cutting - all cut by hand in around 1914.
Pedlers Cutting – all cut by hand in around 1914.

Leaving the cool, it’s a railway gradient downhill to McClaren Vale, ducking under the highway to find vines forever leading the eye astray. Known for it’s consistently stunning vintages McLaren Vale is one of the top Shiraz wine regions of the world. We leave the path temporarily for a ride though the main street, in search of water and a late lunch. Best veggie burger at the café beside the old church – home of Dave Clark and the Singing Gallery.

McClaren Vale – Willunga, via The Shiraz Trail Bike Path.

Fuelled, and back on bikepaths, now called the Shiraz Trail Bike Path  we follow the old railway line to Willunga (and our accommodation) a further 7kms of gentle uphill gradient.

Shiraz as far as the eye can see.
Shiraz as far as the eye can see.

The heat (36 + ) and humidity has sapped our remaining energy and enthusiasm to ride Willunga Hill, but we console ourselves that we did grind our way up it last year, before watching the riders of the Tour Down Under, flash their way up.

Our room for the night is wonderfully cool, the shower strong and bed comfy. Heading out for dinner we notice huge black clouds forming over the hills begin to regret the lack of wet weather gear. However the publican reassures us, that, the clouds will just sit there. The next morning he is proved right and we get the benefit of a gusty tailwind as well as a cooler day.

Mark uses the Garmin 500 bike computer – the map, details and profile can be found here on the Garmin site.

The Return – The Shiraz Trail once more.
Old carriages from the railway's former days, provide a welcome coffee now.
Old carriages from the railway’s former days, provide a welcome coffee now.

Flying into McClaren Vale, we pause for coffee at the Almond Train, and then check out the Info place, to find a family fair in full swing. We resist adding more bottles to our panniers and head back up the railway cutting, taking the same route back to the T Junction.

Coast to Vines bike path – Noarlunga to Hallett Cove

This time, we continue on the Coast to Vines path when it meets the Veloway at the un-signposted T Junction, discovering that this is the old Hallett Cove to Noarlunga railway line – which proves to be a lovely tree lined route through residential areas. Great gradient too.

 Noarlunga to Hallet Cove railway bike path, provides shade and a gentle gradient.
Noarlunga to Hallet Cove railway bike path, provides shade and a gentle gradient.

The Coast to Vines path leaves the old railway line, crossing a major intersection before dropping under Main South Road – keep an eye out for the cardboard sign! – This directs you to the right bike path that curves over the Veloway and Southern Expressway to Sheidow Park.

Residential reserves link up and soon we are greeted with sea views crossing over the new railway line at Hallett Cove Station. From here, it’s a downhill coast to Kingston and the end of the Coast to Vines path.

End or start of the Coast to Vines.
End or start of the Coast to Vines.
Marion Rocks to Glenelg Bike Path.

The next 2 kms of road travel bike lane is unavoidable, but we did descend to the Brighton Caravan Park to pick up the Esplanade and the start of the Marino Rocks to Glenelg bike path.  Although today, the sand is firm and the tide out –  a great choice for our MTB bikes all the way to Glenelg and our favourite café – The Broadway Kiosk.

Beach riding at its best.
Beach riding at its best.

A late lunch fuels us up for the last 10k leg home, on the Mike Turtur bike path, bringing to an end a great two days cycling – all on bike paths, with a 2km exception. Fantastic.

The stats: 54 km, – out, 55 km back.

Garmin stats for the second day ride can be found here on the Garmin site.


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