Cycle Adelaide, Road Ride, MT Crawford Forest Loop
Another great bike ride for the directionally challenged, this is a triangular route with just four turns. This translates into long stretches where you can just sit back, pedal in auto-drive (with a little effort on the climbs, of course) and enjoy the scenery. It’s well worth it on this bike ride, which is a rolling ride through picturesque countryside. Climbing most of the way to Mt Pleasant, the first section travels through native scrub, pine forest and grazing land. It’s then a flat run through open gum country and a descent into Springton, followed by a long climb back out, another rolling stretch and a final descent through pine and native forest back to Williamstown.
From Williamstown’s main street, take Mount Crawford Road and head east out of the township. After the football oval (1.5km) turn left and then immediately left again into the Queen Victoria Caravan Park.
Food and Drink
There’s a kiosk at the caravan park, or shops, hotels and a bakery in Williamstown. Also plenty of options in Mt Pleasant and Springton along the ride.
Pack a rod and reel and go fishing in the South Para Reservoir, at 51,300 megalitres the largest in the South Para system. Relax by the water in the shady forest reserve, with views over the reservoir and dam wall. Permits are available at the Williamstown newsagency and general store, and access is from the Kersbrook-Williamstown road.
The starting point at Williamstown probably makes this more of a summer ride. Where the Adelaide Hills meet the southern Barossa, Williamstown has a higher rainfall and lower temperatures than neighbouring areas – often recording the state’s coldest temperatures. In summer, though, the surrounding forests and hills provide a few degrees of relief, and shady trees along the route do the same.
The town was established in 1857, when a mob of horses was exchanged for land including the settlement of Victoria Creek. Named Williamstown after the owner’s son, it soon became the centre of the local timber milling industry. Today it’s a small but lively town, with heritage stone buildings, cafes and a pub renowned for both its meals and the long verandah bench made from a single, sawn Red Gum log.
Shortly after the first turn onto Cricks Mill Road is the walking trail to the 562m Mount Pleasant summit, renowned for its western views and remnant mature silver banksia forest – rare in the Mt Lofty Ranges. Part of the Mount Crawford Forest Reserve, there are some seriously old trees here, with up to 200 growth rings counted on some logs.
With the first long stretch of climbing out of the way we reach Mt Pleasant, the centre of the local sheep and cattle industry since the 1850s. Originally two adjacent towns, Mt Pleasant’s two pubs have kept the original town names of Totness and Talunga. These days it’s the centre of the local landcare movement – and the butcher is on the must-visit list for locally made mettwurst.
We turn off on the edge of Springton but pass the town’s major claim to fame, Herbig’s Gum Tree. A large, hollowed-out tree, it was home to Silesian tailor Friedrich Herbig, who acquired a wife and the first two of 16 children before moving to a hut nearby. As befits all hard working men with initiative, Herbig succeeded big-time, eventually owning more than 400 acres of land.
- 0.0 Leave the caravan park and turn right onto Springton Rd. At the T-junction, turn left and head east along Warren Rd. Note: while not heavy, traffic on Warren Rd is steady at 110kms, so keep to the left.
- 2.7 The crest of the first long, steady climb. The Warren Reservoir comes into view ahead.
- 6.4 Mt Crawford Forest HQ & Information Centre on the left.
- 9.1 Turn left onto the B35, Cricks Mill Rd, signposted to Mt Pleasant. Ignoring Mount Rd to the left, continue on the main road as it curves right.
- 15.0 The highest point of the ride at 488 metres. Enjoy the well-deserved rolling descent into Mt Pleasant.
- 18.1 Turn left onto the B10, signed to Mt Pleasant and Angaston, and continue through Mt Pleasant on the Torrens Valley Scenic Drive. There are shops and a bakery here to fuel up before tackling the next leg.
- 20.3 To the right, the road to Walkers Flat and Swan Reach heads down to the River Murray. Continue straight ahead towards Springton under the shady canopy of river red gums.
- 24.0 The head of the River Torrens, which flows west from here to Adelaide and the sea.
- 24.5 The River Torrens Scenic Drive ends.
- 25.1 The start of the long descent into Springton.
- 27.6 Enter the township of Springton, with the historic Herbig Family Tree on the right.
- 27.8 Turn left onto Springton Rd, signposted to Williamstown, and start the long climb up out of the valley.
- 29.3 The crest of the climb. The reward is a descent and rolling ride through farming country and scattered vineyards.
- 35.3 After a series of gradual climbs we hit 457m, the highest point on the last leg.
- 39.5 The ride crosses the saddle of Mt Crawford, to the left, and Wirra Wirra Peaks to the right.
- 44.8 From here the road runs parallel to Victoria Creek on the right. We follow the valley and creek all the way back, in a long, sweeping descent through pine and native forest.
- 46.4 Turn right and cross the bridge into the caravan park.
- 46.5 The ride ends.
49.335 km / 30.655 mi
541 m / 1,776 ft
500 m / 1,640 ft
498 m / 1,634 ft