Panel Discussion on Trails – new trails

On 28 October, we hosted a panel discussion on trails – trail building, trail maintenance, current and emerging trail projects, and how the walking community can help.

Our panel, hosted by Board member Ben Trewren, included Matt Lang from National Parks and Wildlife Service SA, Rachel Godoy from Forestry SA, Chris Bushel from South Australian Recreation Trails Inc (SARTI), and Chris Davies from the Willunga Basin Trail.

The panel discussion included projects underway or being planned, which we’ve outlined below.

Recent and Current Projects by National Parks and Wildlife Service SA

National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia is building new experiences, improvements and facilities across the state including world-class fossil and mountain-biking experiences, new multi-day walks, trails, roads, campgrounds, kayak launches and car parks.

Approximately $130m is being invested across the state as part of the Parks 2025 initiative, a strategy that aims to conserve our natural landscapes and wildlife, activate nature-based tourism, boost the state economy and strengthen local communities.

Belair National Park

An upgrade to the Playford Lake – Wood Duck Walk trail. The project will upgrade the trail to meet class 1 accessibility standards.

Kangaroo Island – Cape Willoughby upgrade and funding for multi-day trail

An upgrade of the Cape Willoughby visitor precinct will help to transform the tourism experience at the eastern end of Kangaroo Island.

The state’s oldest lighthouse is set to host the island’s newest tourism destination following the announcement of a $5 million project aimed at supporting and rejuvenating the visitor economy.

Jointly funded by the federal and state governments, the redesign and rollout of the Cape Willoughby visitor precinct has been made possible thanks to the purchase of an additional eight hectares of former private land.

The federal government will be providing $4m and the state government $1m towards the project.

Located in Cape Willoughby Conservation Park, the redesign will include upgrades to heritage accommodation and visitor facilities, a cafe and visitor centre, new walking trails and a spectacular cantilever viewing platform overlooking ‘Devil’s Kitchen’.

The new viewing platform will be set above a 10-metre chasm in the cliffs where waves break over the rocks below and provide visitors with stunning coastal views.

Part of the funding would be also be used to kick start a process to deliver a multi-day trail from Penneshaw to Cape Willoughby, which would be done in partnership with the Tourism Industry Council.

Wild South Coast Way on the Heysen Trail

The Wild South Coast Way is a project to upgrade 80km of the iconic Heysen Trail and connect the parks that run along the breathtaking southern coastline of the Fleurieu Peninsula.

  • $6 million investment to create a new multi-day walking experience on the Fleurieu Peninsula, which will provide an economic boost to the region and better connect the parks along the state’s southern coastline.
  • New walk-in campsites are currently being developed
  • A new Goondooloo Ridge Trail and day visitor facility has recently been opened in Deep Creek Conservation Park.

New National Park in Hindmarsh Valley

  • The project will see $3 million invested to increase recreational experiences within a newly proclaimed national park on the Fleurieu Peninsula
  • As part of this project there will be approximately 7km of existing tracks opened up for walking access, a new class 1 shared use trail built to a lookout over the valley and a new walking only trail will be constructed.

Mount Lofty Botanic Garden

Upgrades to the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden will include resurfacing of key trail and the establishment of a new wayfinding strategy to develop a series of promoted walking loops throughout the garden.

Southern Flinders – Gorges Walk

  • The Gorges Walk trail network will create a new, iconic, multi-day hiking experience in the Southern Flinders Ranges, taking hikers through rugged gorges and up on to vantage points with spectacular views across the Spencer Gulf.
  • A consultant has been engaged to develop the plan for the new walk.

Glenthorne National Park

Construction on the trail network within Glenthorne National Park is now commencing.

This will expand the current single 4.4km loop trail.

Opening of Reservoirs

  • Continuing to work with SA Water to open reservoirs for public access and recreational use.
  • Construction of Happy Valley Reservoir’s 20-kilometre trail network, car parks and a range of visitor facilities is now underway, ahead of the site’s planned opening in December this year.

Nilpena Ediacara National Park

  • Scheduled to open in 2022, Nilpena Ediacara National Park is home to the world’s best example of Ediacaran fossils
  • A new fossil experience will be opened to the public next year and we’ve recently completed a new trail which will allow visitors to walk out to the fossil beds

Kangaroo Island Bushfire Recovery

In additional to the Parks 2025 investment, National Parks and Wildlife Service have been progressing rebuilding of park facilities on Kangaroo Islands.

  • We’re currently tendering for the rebuilding of campsites which will enable multi-day hikes on the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail to recommence
  • The Remarkable Rocks boardwalk is nearing completion
  • Rebuilding of the Platypus Walk in Flinders Chase will be starting next month
  • Other fire affected trails across the island are currently being assessed for reopening

Recent and Current Projects by Forestry SA

Forestry SA will soon be opening two new 7km multi-use trail loops in Second Valley Forest. This is exciting because Second Valley Forest has never been opened for general public access before. The District Council of Yankalilla are installing a new carpark on the corner of Range Road and Bedlam Flat Road near new step-overs into the forest to access the trails. The trails follow fire breaks and tracks and meander between pine plantations and patches of native vegetation, providing beautiful views across towards Rapid Bay. An announcement will come soon on the official opening.

Forestry SA is currently auditing trails across the Mount Lofty Ranges region, with volunteers and rangers walking trail loops and checking signage and track conditions. The Mount Pleasant multi-use trail and Jenkins Scrub Walking Trail are currently being assessed.

We are working with SA Water and National Parks staff to effectively manage new walking trails which have recently been installed across all three land tenures in the South Para Reservoir area. This includes the Cattleyard Track – Para Wirra Link, Warren Tower Link and East Warren Reservoir Loop.

The multi-use Onkeeta Trail has been officially finished in Kuitpo Forest with trail head map plates installed next to a new step over and revamped carpark. This trail is currently closed due to harvesting operations but will reopen again very soon.

A section of the Willunga Basin Trail has been completed through the Mount Panorama area of Kuitpo Forest.

I’m currently working with the Friends of Heysen Trail to renovate Rossiter’s Hut in the southern Barossa’s Pewsey Vale block (Mount Crawford Forest). We’ll be working closely with volunteers to get in a contractor to complete works on the hut before the 2022 season walking season opens.

Recent and Current Projects by South Australian Recreation Trails Inc (SARTI)

SARTI has completed the 300km Lavender Cycling Trail – a variant of the walker’s Lavender Federation Trail designed for cyclists. A grant request has been submitted to mark trail.

They also undertook the project works to build two trails for the Clare and Gilbert Valley Council. The council has recently packaged six short walks to form the Clare Valley Short Walks, with two new trails marked by SARTI:

They were also involved in the Clare Valley Wine & Wilderness Trail. The trail showcases Clare Valley’s natural beauty & premium food and wine products. It will be a 100km loop of hiking and cycling trails. The trail will travel on a network of backroads, road reserves & private property. Sections 1 was opened in April 2021, and section 2 on 3 October. The last four sections will be completed by April 2022.

They have been helping a fledgling concept project to develop a trail around Kangaroo Island.

A short loop trail off the Lavender Federation Trail at Eden Valley has been developed.

They’ve been involved in interest in developing the Eudunda to Morgan disused rail corridor as a trail to link the Lavender Federation Trail and Lavender Cycling Trail at Eudunda to the Murray-Coorong Trail at Morgan.

The discussion included issues with developing trails:

  • Lack of tradition of trails in Australia – unlike Europe. We seem to have obliterated any knowledge of indigenous trading routes.
  • Issues of gaining insurance for trails not developed or adopted by the State Government.
  • Nervousness and mind changing on behalf of landowners in granting access for trails.