Cycle Adelaide, Road Riding, Gawler-Williamstown Loop
This ride is a little deceiving – but in a good way. In a rare phenomenon for a bike route, the 360 metres of climbing recorded on this ride just doesn’t feel like that much – or anywhere near that much, actually. You certainly feel the long climb out of Gawler at the start – especially where it tightens towards the top – and there’s definitely a bit of work up the undulating climbs through to Williamstown, but it just doesn’t seem to add up to 360 metres. What that means for those of us outside the two-percentile of natural hill climbers is the opportunity to do a 41km Level 4 ride and simply feel comfortably satisfied at the end. Not that you won’t need your regular post-ride stretch, or deserve a good meal afterwards, just that you won’t hurt and it won’t be a struggle up that last little hill. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Food and Drink
Shops, cafes and takeaways in Gawler and Williamstown; shop, cafés and wineries in Lyndoch. Author’s pick is the Lyndoch Bakery (sensational pretzels!).
Leave the car at home and catch the train with your bike to Gawler Station.
Visit Whispering Wall, just out of Williamstown. The thin, curved wall of the Barossa Reservoir was controversial for its design when built but is now better known for its acoustic qualities – whisper a message at one end and it carries audibly to the other, 140 metres away.
The ride starts and finishes in Gawler, South Australia’s oldest country town. At the junction of the North and South Para Rivers, Gawler was planned by Colonel William Light in 1839. Surrounded by fertile agricultural land, the town quickly became a prosperous economic hub, with development reflecting its colonial wealth and success. Much of that grandeur remains today in the magnificent architecture, wrought iron lacework and heritage-listed buildings throughout the town, including the railway station and – numerous even by country town standards – its 10 heritage hotels.
From Gawler that long, hard climb takes us straight out into the countryside, along undulating roads through grazing land, horse properties and farms, interspersed with housing. Nearing Cockatoo Valley the landscape takes on a less inhabited feel, with stands of ancient gums and native scrubland providing homes for the flocks of cockatoos which gave the area its name.
Just nearby are the Barossa Goldfields, site of a massive gold rush in the 1860s. Some 5000 miners rushed to the area and over the next 30 years more than three tonnes of gold was extracted – in today’s money, around $7 million worth. By the end of the century the fields were largely abandoned but much of the workings remain, and the signed Barossa Goldfields Walk meanders past shafts, tunnels and old mining equipment. Part of Para Wirra Recreation Park, the Goldfields are a great place to explore a bit of South Australia’s early history. Back on the ride, though, we continue past Williamstown and on to the long, gentle downhill spin through vineyards to Lyndoch. Established in 1839, it was the first settlement of the Barossa andboasted the first flour mill north of Adelaide. Today it’s a quiet, community centred town with a seriously good bakery – and home to South Australia’s best mettwurst for three years running.
From there it’s an easy, rolling ride back to Gawler via Sandy Creek with a couple of notable highlights: the spectacular views from the crest at 32.8 and the seriously fun descent back down into Gawler.
- 0.0 Head out of the Gawler Station carpark and turn right into 18 th St. Continue as the road veers left and becomes Eighth St and shortly afterwards turn right into Sixth St.
- 0.7 At the roundabout, turn left onto the main road and continue through the traffic lights. Take care along this very busy stretch.
- 1.5 Turn right into Calton Rd and head uphill out of town. After a flat stretch alongside a silt dam, the road climbs again.
- 4.5 Turn right into Balmoral Rd and continue climbing for another 400 metres. The route then continues through an undulating landscape of grazing land and scattered houses.
- 11.2 At a T-junction, turn right onto Williamstown Rd.
- 12.1 The turn off to Whispering Wall.
- 14.2 Views of Mt Crawford Forest on the hilltop straight ahead.
- 16.9 Turn left onto Lyndoch Valley Rd, signposted to Lyndoch. There’s a short climb before the long, gentle downhill spin to Lyndoch.
- 23.4 Carefully cross the intersection to the town centre. Take a break at the Lyndoch Bakery, then continue on Barossa Valley Way.
- 24.4 Pass Rick Burge Wines, Kies Estate and then Yaldara Estate/Lyndoch Hill Retreat.
- 30.1 At the Sandy Creek Hotel turn left into Davies Rd, signposted to Cockatoo Valley and Williamstown. Head over the railway line and up the hill.
- 30.9 At Curdnatta Park the road curves left. Veer right and continue towards Cockatoo Valley, with the oval on your left.
- 31.6 At a T-junction, carefully turn right onto Balmoral Rd.
- 32.8 At the top of a small crest, spectacular views open out over Gawler and beyond. Enjoy them on the descent.
- 36.1 Take the slip road left onto Calton Rd for a descent then another short climb.
- 38.1 The top of the last climb on the ride, followed by a long, fast, steep descent.
- 39.3 At the T-junction with the main road, turn left and continue along Murray St back towards the station.
- 40.1 At the roundabout, turn right into Sixth St. At the T-junction and palm tree, turn left onto Eighth St. Shortly afterwards veer right into 18 th St.
- 40.7 Turn left into 23 rd St and then right into the station carpark.
- 40.8 The ride ends.
41.398 km / 25.724 mi
377 m / 1,236 ft
377 m / 1,236 ft
260 m / 854 ft