Trish is resting her aches and pains from yesterdays ride so today I am riding solo and Trish driving the support vehicle!
This ride is 26.4 kilometres from the Northern end of the Riesling Rail Trail at Barinia Railway Siding to Clare and then on to Leasingham with some wine tasting on the way.
The first 10 Km Northern section from Barina Siding to Clare is the Riesling Trail Extension and the latest section to be added to the trail. In it’s day Barinia was an important rail terminus and now marks the Northern end of the trail. The trail infrastructure here is yet to be developed.
Waving Trish goodbye I follow the trail South South through farmland with curious cows and steel kangaroos.
At White Hut Creek the trail passes through a deep cutting before entering the White Hut vineyards, crosses the Farrell Flat Road railway bridge before entering the town of Clare.
Shortly after entering Clare there is an interesting Mob of Sheep Sculpture by Ty Manning that celebrates the contribution of sheep and the wool industry to Clare. Donated by farming friends of the Riesling Trail. This is also the start/finish of the Riesling Trail Extension to Barina Siding.
The old Clare railway Station is now gone and the only train is now a two dimensional steel sculpture. There is still an old steel crane left here from early rail days This is also the Clair Trailhead and marks the start/finish for many trail users. The town centre is just a few hundred meters away. The information video at the end of this post was recorded at the old turntable pit here.
Shortly after Clare the trail passes an entrance to Tim Adams Wines which situated adjacent to the Trail. The short pathway leads directly to the cellar door. Locked up the bike and settled in to taste a selection of wines. Gave Trish a call who left the shops of Clare to join me for lunch.
Leaving Tim Adams Wines the trail passes ‘The Cyclist’ sculpture by artist Paul Leditschke and a well placed bench to sit, admire the sculpture and take in the serenity.
The trail crosses the red Quarry Road Bridge where more history of the trail comes to the fore. Rail was important for both movement of grain and livestock, as well as passengers. The original Quarry Road Bridge was destroyed by the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires. The bridge was replaced with the help of BHP Whyalla as without this bridge traversing the entire length of the Trail would not be possible.
An Interpretive sign showing the construction of the original bridge shows the engineering involved.
The trail is a gentle uphill climb to Seven Hill station which still has the platform are but little else is visible.
At Seven Hills is the historic Jesuit settlement of Sevenhill Cellars and St Aloysius Church. Sevenhill was established in 1851 when the Jesuits who settled in the area planted vines to produce sacramental wine.
The Cellars produce award winning wines and still supply the majority of sacramental wine for Churches throughout Australia. Seven hill Cellars are very happy for Trail users to enjoy the use of their picnic facilities located on their grounds.
Leaving Seven Hills the trail continues to gently climb toward Penwortham at 490m the highest point on the trail and the first site of European settlement in the region. After reading the info sign of the Polish people settling at Hill River we plan to visit the settlement and the restored church at ‘Pole Hill River’ tomorrow. (more in a later post).
From Penwortham it is an easy gentle down hill ride to Watervale
Watervale is the home of the world-famous Watervale Riesling, Also commemorated with an Interpretive sign. There is also a trail rest area at Watervale with a shelter, seat and water tanks.
Before I know it I am at Leasingham and the end of todays ride. Leasingham’s Interpretive sign commemorates ‘The Copper Trail’, by which copper ore was taken from Burra to Port Wakefield in the 1850s by bullock and mule drays, returning with supplies for the Burra miners.
Trish is waiting with the support vehicle at our planned rendezvous at the Little Red Grape Cafe. It’s work done for the day I folded up the e-bike and loaded into the back of the Suzuki for the short 8Km trip back to our base camp in Auburn. Still over 90% battery left after 26 Km which is good because it means I did most of the work!!
Tomorrow we plan to explore the some more of the Clare Valley by car, particularly some of the sites mentioned in the trackside information boards.
The Riesling Rail Trail
Named for the most important grape in the Clare Valley, the Riesling Trail follows the former Spalding railway line established in 1860 that travelled between Adelaide and Spalding . The line was substantial damaged during the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires and a decision was made to close the line down. A local group believed it could be rejuvenated as a recreation trail and in 1994 it reopened as the Riesling Trail. It was the first conversion of a railway line into a recreation trail for walking and cycling in South Australia.
If you cannot bring a bike there is also bike-hire available from many of the towns along the trail, and some even offer one-way rentals with included pick up from the other end – perfect for a day of wine tasting by bicycle!
Opening of the Clare Railway
For those interested the Clare Museum has a complete history of the railway and development of the rail trail .
Below is a video of the Clair Railway Centenary