Distance: 9.5km (5.9 miles)
Don’t you love it when you discover a hike that not many people know about? Unless you are local to the Murray Bridge area, I doubt you would have come across this hike before.
True, there are prettier hikes within a reasonable driving distance from Adelaide suburbia, but will you have it to yourself on a sunny, Saturday morning in Spring?
What made this hike special for me was that I did it with an old school friend of mine, who I rarely get to catch up with. It’s nice to catch up on all of life happenings out on the trail with the sun shining and the birds singing, instead of sitting on your backside having multiple cups of coffee (don’t get me wrong though – I love a good cup of coffee just like everyone else).
I got up early yesterday morning, with my bag already packed and ready by the door. Murray Bridge is 1 hour 15 minutes away and the start of the trail is 5 – 10 minutes out of Murray Bridge.
The Kinchina Conservation Park loop trail is a combination of 4 existing trails and an adjoining link trail – the Cemetery Trail, the Jailbreak Trail, the Jailbreak Rocks Loop, the Getaway Car Loop and the Rocky Gully Link.
You wouldn’t know the Park and it’s trails were there if you drove past – the National Parks sign is at the end of a dirt road and completely out of view. There’s enough room for about 4 cars to park.
The warm morning quickly turned into a hot afternoon. We got some patches of shade on and off throughout the trail. Occasionally when we were out in the open we got a bit of a cooler breeze, which was very welcome.
In the North-East end of the park there were a lot of black, burnt areas. As it’s spring here the parks management have done a lot of burn-offs in order to reduce the bushfire risk in summer. The landscape around here can be very hot and dry. We could actually still smell the smoke/charcoal smell, so I don’t think it was too long ago that they did the burn-offs. You can see in the main photo at the beginning of this post that the tree leaves are quite light and dull-looking. I’d love to experience this walk in winter – to see the vegetation green and at it’s best.
There wasn’t a great deal of variety with the terrain but because the trail was rocky and mostly narrow we didn’t have time to get bored. It was undulating and we were mostly surrounded by low shrubbery. It was also quite sandy in parts.
I loved the rock formations as we got closer to the Rocky Gully Creek area in the North of the park. We skirted around the edges of a dry creek bed where the trail looked like it had recently undergone some maintenance. We also came across an old concrete water tank with a beautiful stone wall leading up to it and an old, concrete livestock water trough that’s no longer connected or in use.
Looking out over the train-line we could see some amazing-looking large, rocky outcrops up the side of some hills not too far off. I know that the Lavender Federation Trail follows the train-line through there and can’t wait to make a start on it when time permits!
You might be wondering how the Getaway Car Loop got it’s name? Well there’s an old abandoned car down in the creekbed – the person who named these trails had a sense of humour (or imagination) that’s for sure!
The start of the trail wasn’t particularly well signed but I’d taken a map with me, which had each individual trail clearly marked, as well as a map showing the trail which makes up the boundary loop. The rest of the trails were well-signed. No wrong turns – hooray!
As for wildlife, we saw 2 kangaroos, 1 unknown (but fast) lizard sprinting off into the distance, 1 sleepy lizard that was in no hurry to move while I took photos and a rabbit. We could hear plenty of birdlife and saw several eagles/hawks/kites (not sure what they were exactly).
I really came across this trail by accident. I was researching the Lavender Federation Trail, which starts close-by. This led me to researching other walking options in the area and I came across the Loop hike via the Walking SA website. The Walking SA website is a treasure-trove of information for anyone interested in hiking in South Australia and has been a great source of inspiration for me.
I was pretty written-off by the time I’d driven back to my house. I think hiking in the heat really pushes you, even when you drink plenty of water. Interestingly, the back of my ankles had sunburn. I didn’t even think of putting sunblock there.
I’m so glad we did this hike and I’m looking forward to exploring more around this area. Especially now that I’ve got a hiking companion out this way happy to hit the trails with me.