- 8.7 km return
- 3-5 hours return
- Suitable for
- Hiking, Trail Running
- Grade 3, Moderate Hike
- Park (national park, conservation park, forest, reserve)
- Horsnell Gully and Giles
- Adelaide Hills
- Download maps & GPS files
- 2 GPS files
- 1 website link
- 21 photosJump to Photos section
- Travel options
- Travel time from Adelaide
- 1 hour or less
About the Walking Trail
Hike into Horsnell Gully and Giles Conservation Park to explore the Giles Ruins, and spot koalas along the way.
Charles Giles and John Horsnell settled the area in the 1840s, building three stone cottages here. The cottages were build from local stone with stone lined floors, and named ‘Hope’, ‘Faith’ and ‘Charity’. At the junction of the two creeks they established The Reedbeds, an area cultivated by three gardeners and their families who lived in the cottages. A slate-lined channel helped direct waters from the creek into The Reedbeds. Hornsell established a nursey and home called ‘Grove Hill’ nearby at Norton Summit.
Throughout the valley are scattered ruins. Two of the cottages are easily identifiable and fairly complete, although both are fragile. The Reedbeds are not easily identifiable, although some of the slate channels can be found, and there are plenty of European trees which mark the cultivated area.
There are plenty of koalas to be seen and heard near the ruins, and walking down into the valley.
Commence this hike from
There are four ways to do this hike:
1. The end of Coach Road at Skye
This is the route shown in the Google Map above. It is 8.7km return (4.3km one-way).
Parking is available at the end of the road. View parking location in Google Maps.
- Walk through the white gate, following the continuation of Coach Road (now a fire track) along the ridge. There are a couple of steep climbs.
- Near the end watch out for a walking trail off to the left, marked with a hard-to-see brown sign with an arrow.
- If you miss the walking trail, it’s about the same distance to continue onwards. You will pass through a gate entering into Horsnell Gully Conservation Park, with a shoe cleaning station. Continue until you reach a marked junction with another clear fire track, and turn left, walking just 100m to a shoe cleaning station. At this junction, you will meet up with the walking trail you missed.
- Turn left at the junction (or right if you missed the walking trail), following the Heysen Trail.
- Continue past the junction to the Main Valley and Rockdale Hill Hike, staying on the Heysen Trail (veering right)
- Follow the Heysen Trail down into the gully and the ruins. At the first complete ruins, the Heysen Trail goes left above the main cottage ruins, and a second fire trail goes right, beneath the main cottage ruins. The slate channels and The Reedbeds can be found by following the right-hand fire trail.
2. Main Valley and Rockdale Hill Hike
Extend the Main Valley and Rockdale Hill Hike by following the Heysen Trail to the ruins.
- Leave the Main Valley and Rockdale Hill Hike at the marker named ‘junction with Rockdale Hill Hike’ in the above Google Map. This is at the top of the hill when the Main Valley and Rockdale Hill Hike meets the Heysen Trail.
- This option is a good way to make an overall loop, with only 1.6km each way to get to the ruins.
3. From Coach Road, via Summertown in the Adelaide Hills
This route begins at the other end of Coach Road, near Summertown in the hills. Parking is available at the end of the road. View parking location in Google Maps.
- Follow the continuation of Coach Road, now a fire trail, for 250m to the first junction
- Veer right, walking another 50m to another junction, past a shoe cleaning station
- Turn right, following the Heysen Trail, down into the gully and the ruins. At the first complete ruins, the Heysen Trail goes left above the main cottage ruins, and a second fire trail goes right, beneath the main cottage ruins. The slate channels and The Reedbeds can be found by following the right-hand fire trail.
4. From Woods Hill Road, via Ashton in the Adelaide Hills
This route begins from Woods Hill Road, near Ashton in the hills. Roadside parking is available here. View parking location in Google Maps.
- Follow the Heysen Trail down into the gully for 2.2km to reach the ruins.