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Walk of the month: Getaway Car Loop Trail, Rocky Gully
In the first instalment of a regular feature, Graham Hallandal suggests an activity for your long weekend.
This article was contributed by Graham Hallandal.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given many of us additional time as we work from home, work reduced hours or have all our volunteering activities cancelled.
It is hard not to notice the number of people in the area that are now out and about, often with the family dog and family members.
If you are walking regularly then you are in good company.
Walking is Australia’s most popular recreational activity, with bike riding increasing in popularity.
The Murraylands has some of the best conditions for outdoor activities in Australia.
We are blessed with more sunshine in winter - and more cloudy days in summer - than Adelaide, under half Adelaide’s rainfall, and some magnificent areas nearby, most of them unknown even to long-time local residents.
Instead of that same walk or ride every day, why not experience somewhere new?
Many local trails are multi-purpose and suitable for walking, trail running and mountain biking, with many new trails built over the past few years by volunteers and state and local government.
Most are dog-on-a-lead-friendly.
Over the coming weeks we will introduce you to some of the best trails for you to experience in the area.
I believe most will be amazed at what is on our doorstep.
The Getaway Car Loop Trail
At the western edge of Murray Bridge is Kinchina Conservation Park, a 414-hectare area proclaimed in September 2016.
Originally a part of the proposed Monarto satellite city project in the 1970s, the area contains grassy woodlands of high conservation significance and a habitat for a number of birds in decline in the Mount Lofty Ranges.
A total of 68 different bird species have been recorded in the area, including the rare diamond firetail, restless flycatcher and hooded robin.
In later parts of the year the area has blossoming orchids, lilies and beautiful spring wildflowers.
There are populations of threatened plant species, such as Monarto mintbush and Menzel’s wattle, in the park.
This park is the only area where Menzel’s wattle is formally protected, and there are more than 4000 plants in the park.
This month’s walk is the 1.9-kilometre Getaway Car Loop Trail, one of eight separate trails within the park which total 17.8km.
The walk takes about 30 minutes with undulating terrain, and it suitable for hiking, dog walking on a lead, trail running and mountain biking.
Car parking is available at the main entrance to the park on Maurice Road, 700 metres past the entrance to Mobilong Prison, marked with a P on the map - look for the park sign.
When you enter the park, an information board and plaque is worth a few minutes’ reading.
Turn sharply right, following the fence on your right and the Getway Car Loop Trail markers.
The trail then enters a wooded area and runs along the side of a shallow gully to a T intersection.
It soon becomes aparent where the name of the trail comes from: within sight of the prison, an old car wreck sits at the bottom of a gully, with the trail running around the edge of the gully.
A gradual climb into an open area gives a view of the river and Murray Bridge.
The trail then turns left and heads back to the start point.
The eastern end of the Rocky Gully Link Trail - 600m long, shown in blue - is worth a diversion.
There are spectacular views into Rocky Gully along this short trail, however, be aware that the track is quite rocky underfoot.
If the Getaway Car Loop Trail is not long enough, you can walk or ride a circuit using the Rocky Gully link, Jailbreak, Jailhouse Rocks and Getaway Car Loop Trails back to the car.
If walking, allow around three hours back to the car, a distance of more than 6km.
The next section of the Getaway Car Loop Trail is mostly a gradual downwards slope.
The ruin of an old house is to your right with an unusual round fireplace.
Also of interest nearby on the left are several water tanks that appear in the past to have been used as part of a watering system.
There is little information recorded about the history of the house or irrigation system.
To keep your heart rate elevated, the final section back to the start of the walk is uphill.
Trails in Kinchina Conservation Park are very popular, so you will probably meet others on your walk, run or ride.
They have become a favored destination for many outside of the area, many from the Adelaide Hills attracted by dryer weather away from muddy tracks.
The Department of Environment and Water has installed counters on trails in the park which indicate that more than 2100 a month are using some of the trails.
More information, trail map: lavenderfederationtrail.org.au/kinchina-conservation-park.
Photos: Graham Hallandal.