Nine years in the making and almost there, a reflection on the Adelaide100 trail

We've launched a project website for the Adelaide100 trail at

by Jim McLean

Jim McLean, the visionary and trail maker of the Adelaide100 loop trail

As a kid on Sunday School Picnics in the Belair National Park, I was dubbed “Mountain Goat” for the ease with which I scaled steep slopes to explore the holes in the rock which we called “caves”. It was then that I fell in love with the Adelaide Hills. It was the 1950s. On weekends and public holidays people dressed up and headed in droves by steam train, manually operated buses and bone shaking family cars to the picnic grounds of Belair, Loftia Park, Mount George and Morialta. You could find a nook in a gully with a shack and a waterhole and stay and swim over the weekend.

In my youth, through the Boys’ Brigade and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, I was exposed to multiday group-walking. We started with two days on the Fleurieu Peninsula, progressed to three days in the northern Mount Lofty Ranges, and finished with four days in the northern Flinders.

In adult years, friends and I got away when we could. We never tired of the “at peace with the world feeling” that comes with being in unspoilt outdoor environments and being fit and healthy. Central mountains of Tasmania, hinterland forests of southern NSW, logging country of Victoria and the emerging long distance trails at home enduced perfect senses of remoteness even when we knew civilisation was just on the other side of the range or the forest.

I did the Yurrebilla Trail in three one-day walks. I did the Lavender Federation Trail (Murray Bridge to Clare) from Murray Bridge to Springton in two three-day walks. In May 2012 I completed the Heysen Trail. It had taken 22 years, walks of one to six days, and eleven different companions in all.

Trail visionary, Jim McLean, installing an arrow decal in Belair National Park

It was 3.00am in July 2012 with the Heysen Trail fresh in my mind when an idea popped into my head. When that happens I can’t let it go. I jumped out of bed, went to the home office, spread the maps out, and started looking for a way around the suburbs and hills of Adelaide.

Australia is a big country. Just getting to its best walking environments can take significant energy, resources and time. Adelaide is globally unique. It is on a small piece of plain wedged between the coast to the west and the hills to the east. For a dry climate, significant waterways find their way from the hills to the sea to the north and the south. How many other places have this variety on environment so close to the CBD?

A loop trail taking in coast, hills and fresh waterways could be accessed from the backdoors of a large population of curious, outdoors thirsty, health conscious people. It couldn’t be too hard to make. In a couple of years, I could put a rough line-map out to the walking community to do with it as it wished, and I could wash my hands of the project.

It soon became evident it wasn’t that easy. I needed help. The Friends of the Heysen Trail and the Warren Bonython Heysen Trail Foundation were very welcoming, they understood everything about making and managing a signature trail and were very good at it, but they had their plates full. SA Recreation Trails Inc (SARTI) were making the Lavender Federation Trail. They built and are managing a trail from scratch so they knew what they were doing. They were extremely helpful, totally authoritative, but they had their hands with the Lavender Federation Trail. The Department for Environment and Water (manager of the Heysen Trail) and the SA Tourism Commission had other agendas. I tried smaller walking groups and trail makers, anyone I could find.

I toted my idea around hoping for a glimmer of break-through support. In the end it was John Eaton of Walking SA who listened and provided the encouragement I sought. Although no longer officially with Walking SA he was still heavily involved in walking initiatives and was strongly enthusiastic for the Adelaide100, as it came to be known. I was on a range of walking councils, boards, and committees. I joined the Board of Walking SA as well. The Adelaide100 became a Walking SA project in 2015. The first portion, 1.6km of unmade road reserve at Norton Summit known as Monument Road, was completed on the 19th June 2017.

A local National Parks and Wildlife Service SA ranger, working on the roll out of the Adelaide100 trail through Morialta Conservation Park

It is nine years from the time the idea popped into my head. Walking SA has support for the Adelaide100 of the Minister for Environment and Water, David Spiers, his department The Department for Environment and Water, and the mayors of 13 LGAs. SA Health recognised the worth of the project and gave it significant support. An initial project launch at Pinky Flat on the Torrens River was attended by hundreds of people. A subsequent launch was part of Walking SA’s Hiking Expo at Belair which was attended by over 1,000 people.

The Adelaide100 is a long-distance loop trail of more than 100km in length. In addition, it roughly coincides with the boundary of the land title division, set by the South Australian colonists, of the Hundred of Adelaide. The Adelaide100 traverses the traditional plain of the Kaurna people from coast to foothills and extends over the range of the Peramangk people to its most eastern point Basket Range. The colonists chose the site, on the Torrens River, of the City of Adelaide around which the Adelaide100 loops. The current route traverses 13 LGAs, 9 big parks managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service SA, and SA Water’s yet to be opened Happy Valley Reservoir.

The Adelaide100 is currently 40-50% marked on the ground. There is an Adelaide100 website. There are electronic route files. People are walking it. People are running it.

Jim McLean leads the walkers out at the Adelaide100 section launch at Pinky Flat

The first completed sections of the Adelaide100 was opened last October, with a 7km showcase walk on the River Torrens / Karrawirra Parri. The trail section was officially opened by Stephen Wade MLC and Walktober Ambassadors Sandy Verschoor – Lord Mayor of Adelaide and Genevieve Theseira-Haese. It was a spectacular, sunny day with hundreds of walkers celebrating with a community walk along the River Torrens.

The Adelaide100 is designed around accommodation and food outlets being available along the way. It can be walked at a casual pace in six or seven days with nothing more than a day pack on the back. The yet to be signed portions, all in the hills, are currently being negotiated. Fine tuning of the route in these parts is continuing.

A volunteer installing an Adelaide100 arrow decal in Mark Oliphant Conservation Park

As well as the 9 big parks there are numerous smaller parks and reserves along the way. The Torrens Linear Park is traversed from the bottom of Black Hill to West Beach. Most of the Adelaide100 is shared-use. There are cycling alternatives for the walk-only bits. Signage is in place from the Black Hill Conservation Park exit, along the Torrens River to West Beach, along the coast to Kingston Park, and through the back streets to the entry at O’Halloran Hill Recreation Park. Signage is in place through the Sturt Gorge Recreation Park, the Belair National Park, and the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park. Belair and Mark Oliphant is shared-use and there is a cycling alternative for Sturt Gorge.

Walking SA received great cooperation and even generous enthusiasm from suburban and city councils along the way. Rangers of the National Parks and Wildlife Service SA and officers of the Adelaide Hills Council are generously giving their time to the location and fixation of signage through the Adelaide Hills. The brand new Glenthorne National Park is currently being developed by the NPWSSA with walking corridors. The Happy Valley Reservoir will be opened to the public at the end of the year. We look forward to working with the National Parks and Wildlife Service SA and SA Water to complete the routes through Glenthorne and Happy Valley when the time is right.

The two most common questions are: When will it be finished? How long will it be? Walking SA was hoping that it will be finished by the end of the year. Let’s say not long after that. My estimation is that the Adelaide100 will be between 130km and 140km. We will see.


You can find out more about the Adelaide100 trail, and sign up for updates, at

Improve your Hiking Skills session

Sunday 22 August 2021
Hale Conservation Park

Choose from two sessions:
9am to 12noon, or
1pm to 4pm

Join an experienced leader from Walking SA for a guided walk & bushwalking skills session in the rugged and rocky Hale Conservation Park.

This 3-hour session will include a 2 hour hike in the park plus some time to have a chat and learn about:

  • How to plan and be well prepared for a hike
  • How to stay comfortable while walking
  • Equipment should you take with you
  • Navigation and map resources
  • What to do in an emergency
  • Rules and guidelines about walking in parks
  • The principles of Leave No Trace
  • Walking SA
  • Bushwalking Leadership South Australia

Fitness requirements: A moderate to good level of fitness is required to complete this hike. The proposed route is on grade 3 to 4 trails and includes some uneven surfaces with moderate to steep ascents and descents. This trail, while only 4kms, requires the ability to walk uphill and climb boulders on a sometimes rough but safe path.

Toilets: No toilets at meeting point. The nearest toilets are in Williamstown or Forestry SA Mt Crawford.

Driving: allow plenty of time to get to the start point, as it is a scenic but slow journey. The carpark is small and tight but is signposted, and on google maps.

Age: This event is suitable for children over 12 years of age accompanied by their adult and who are willing and able to complete a 3 hour trail hike.

What to bring:

  • Completed Medical Info and Acknowledgement of Risk form
  • Hiking boots / enclosed footwear
  • Sun protection – hat plus sunscreen
  • Wet weather protection (if rain forecast) – check the forecast
  • Warm clothing for after the walk (jumper/jacket)
  • Drinking water (minimum 1 litre per person)
  • Snacks
  • Walking poles (optional)
  • Personal medication
  • Hand sanitiser

Please note that the event may be cancelled in the event of a total fire ban or extreme weather, at the discretion of Walking SA.

This event is proudly supported by National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia as part of the Parks of the Barossa – (Para Wirra, Warren, Hale, Kaiserstuhl, Sandy Creek and South Para Reservoir) – Park of the Month program.

Advice for Bushwalkers to consider Biosecurity

Recently we sought advice from the state government Primary Industries & Regions SA (PIRSA) in regards to issues bushwalkers should consider in relation to biosecurity.

Read the advice from Biosecurity SA – Invasive Species Unit, Primary Industries & Regions SA (PIRSA) in full below.

A major issue for the protection of native vegetation and primary production is the transport of seeds of weedy plants on clothing including footwear, and even coats or backpacks.

Walkers are advised to check their trousers, shoes and socks after walking through a weedy area, then take a moment to get all weed seeds out of their clothes. Staying on established walking trails can make it easier to avoid picking up this plant debris.

Walkers should also consider the potential for their vehicles to carry weeds on roadsides and car parks adjoining the walking trail.

The SA Weed Control App may be useful to walkers.

View as response letter (PDF).


Thank you for your enquiry, and for Walking SA’s interest in supporting the education of bushwalkers about biosecurity.

A major issue for the protection of native vegetation and primary production is the transport of seeds of weedy plants on clothing including footwear, and even coats or backpacks. All these items should be checked for any burrs, grass seeds etc. When camping out, it is also advisable to check swags and tents for seeds that get attached.

High risk declared weeds that may be transported in this way include caltrop, Noogoora burr and khaki weed; and, in the arid zone, buffel grass.

Walkers are advised to check their trousers, shoes and socks after walking through a weedy area, then take a moment to get all weed seeds out of their clothes. Staying on established walking trails can make it easier to avoid picking up this plant debris.

Walkers should also consider the potential for their vehicles to carry weeds on roadsides and car parks adjoining the walking trail.

Risk of vehicles spreading pests and diseases can be lessened by washing down using a hose, high pressure cleaner or spray tank and pump. Be sure to clean all potential seed collection points, and move the vehicle forward to ensure tyres are clean all around the tread. Sweep or vacuum inside the cab to remove seeds and plant debris.

Where no wash-down facilities are available be sure to physically remove all clods of mud and visible plant material in addition to cleaning the foot-well and cabin of the vehicle. Use a brush or scraping implement to remove contaminants such as burrs and clods of mud from tyres, mud guards, ledges and crevices where they could lodge.

Removed seeds should be bagged and taken to where they can be disposed of safely, for example by putting the bags in the ‘red’ garbage bin.

Soil pathogens such as phytophthora may also be carried in soil on footwear, particularly in the winter-spring wet months. Walkers should observe any signs marking known phytophthora infestations. The presence of shrubs that have died with all their dry brown foliage in place, especially yakkas and banksia, may indicate the presence of phytophthora.

Further to the above, the Invasive Species Council has produced a useful brochure on minimizing biosecurity risks when visiting natural areas:

Kangaroo Island is in the fortunate position of being free from many weeds and pests that are established on the mainland, and visitors have a responsibility to protect the island’s biosecurity. In particular, honey and unwashed potatoes must not be taken to Kangaroo Island. More information can be found at the Biosecurity SA website.

The SA Weed Control App may be useful to walkers. It illustrates all the plants declared in SA under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019, and enables a user to report infestations to regional weeds officers with GPS co-ordinates and a photo. The app can be downloaded from the Department of Primary Industries and Regions website at ol_app

Volunteer groups who are installing trails should obtain advice from regional Landscape board staff and land managers regarding biosecurity signage, as part of the approval process for the on-ground works.

Thanks again for your interest in biosecurity issues.

Yours sincerely,
Dr John Virtue
General Manager Strategy, Policy & Invasive Species

Showcasing a Walking Club: Gawler Bushwalkers

Gawler Bushwalkers on a hike

The Gawler Bushwalkers club has been going for over 20 years with many long-standing members and well qualified walk leaders. Members come from a wide range of backgrounds and ages and enjoy bushwalking and as well as walking for fitness and friendship. Many take a keen interest in native plants, trees and orchids, and walk locations often reflect this. The walk program is compiled at the AGM each year in February, and then walks are held every second Sunday from April to October. Members meet a carpark in Gawler for an 8am departure, often with car-pooling, to the walk start point. Most walks are held in the northern areas out from Gawler generally in the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley or Kapunda area and have included the Lavender Federation and Heysen Trail and the new Clare Valley Wine & Wilderness Trail. Most Sunday walks are 5 to 6 hours in duration with stops for morning tea and lunch, after which some members will have a coffee and cake as a reward.

The walks cover a distance of 16 to 20km. Occasionally there is a shorter walk where available, and new, or less-experienced walkers’ needs are always accommodated, as the group aims to offer a welcoming, safe walking experience.

The club also runs a summer walk program on a Thursday afternoon/evening around the Gawler area from November to March, weather permitting.

There is a group of members currently walking the Walk the York trail which they should complete in 2022. A group is also holding a camp in Victor Harbor in October this year.

The club presently has 70 members with 20 to 25 who walk regularly.

The first walk with the walk is free and if people decide to continue, the membership fee is $20 per year. There is no charge for each walk.

You can find out more at:

You can find a walking club at

Congratulations to our latest BLSA Day Walk Leader graduate – Roxanne Crook

Roxanne Crook has recently graduated as a Day Walk LeaderRoxanne Crook has recently graduated as a Day Walk Leader. Roxanne is a member of Adelaide Bushwalkers and the Friends of the Heysen Trail, and well regarded in the SA bushwalking community.

The Day Walk Leader Certificate equips people to lead single day group bushwalking trips.

Thanks to grant support from Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing, Walking SA partnered with Bushwalking Leadership SA to strengthen bushwalking leadership within our clubs.

The next Bushwalking Leadership SA Day Walk Leader Certificate course is in September. The Training Day is Saturday 4th September 2021, with the Workshop on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th September 2021. Book via

You can find out more about upcoming training dates by contacting us or visiting