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Gilbert Valley - The Valley They Don't Talk About

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by Dave Walsh (subscribe)
I enjoy writing about Adelaide and its many attractions. If you think Adelaide is boring, the problem is not with Adelaide. adelaideunearthed.blogspot.com.au/
Published October 27th 2012
See the one in the middle
The Valley They Don't Talk About

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The Station Master's Roses Run Rampant Now


Ask someone where tourists should go in SA and the usual responses would almost certainly include the Barossa Valley and the Clare Valley.

Both regions offer some excellent local wines and innovative food delicacies that we are proud to show off to our visitors. The wineries themselves have been "freshened" in recent years, so there are some very attractive venues where you can taste, dine and sometimes even obtain accommodation.

But sandwiched between these two extremely popular regions is the Gilbert Valley, an area that even few South Australians have visited.

The Gilbert Valley is mainly a farming and agricultural area, reached via the Barrier Highway as it meanders up to Broken Hill. But don't dismiss it as just as an agricultural region, there are attractions for many tastes.

Tarlee

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The Grain Silos of Tarlee


Driving up from Adelaide, the first town in the area that you will encounter is Tarlee, with its massive grain silos on the main street. There is a little rest area with maps and an overview of the towns in the region.

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The Towns of the Gilbert & Clare Valleys


As with many country towns, Tarlee has been hit hard in recent years by tight economic times. A number of the local businesses have closed, but it is still worthwhile to stretch your legs and look at some of the quaint and unusual buildings.

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The Tarlee Deli


When leaving Tarlee take a moment to wonder how such grand churches could be built by country folk in times gone by.

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The 1876 Church of Saints John & Paul


Riverton

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An Imposing Building in Riverton's Main Street


As I approached Riverton I was pleased to see a sign advertising the Riverton Railway station, as it is also mentioned on the local council website as a heritage location worth visiting. It was to be my first stop in the town and I drove past some grand old buildings on the charming main street as I made my way to the station.

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Riverton Railway Station


I was quite disappointed to find a "Private Road" sign on the track leading to the station. Not to be deterred, I drove a little further away from the station on the other side of the tracks. On walking through some scrub I got a great view of the grand station building which seemed in mostly good condition.

Much of the railway infrastructure still seems to remain - I saw a couple of old "Red Hen" trains parked nearby, and there were signal boxes and equipment, cattle pens and other equipment.

As I stood across the railway line from the station building, someone called out asking me to leave, which I did promptly. Clearly tourists are not welcome in this part of town.

It would have been great if I could have stayed longer in Riverton - there is plenty to see on the main street alone, with shopping and a homely pub to explore, while nearby there is an art gallery and a museum. If you still have energy to burn, go for a bike ride on the Rattler Trail along a former railway line.

Hikers and bushwalkers are sure to find something to challenge them, with a choice of the Riesling Trail, the Heysen Trail, and the Riverton Trails.

If shopping is your main game, consider coming up on a Saturday for the Riverton monthly markets. Country markets can be quite different to those in the city.

You can check out coming events in Riverton here, and more on the history of the town can be found on Wikipedia.

For those who would like to stay a while, there is a pleasant looking caravan park where pets are permitted (but not inside). But for me it was time to press on, and see more of the Gilbert Valley.

Saddleworth

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Saddleworth Institute Building


Arriving in my next stop Saddleworth, I pulled in to admire the carefully restored Institute building.

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Saddleworth Heritage Trail Start


There was a pleasant surprise in the car park, a sign advertising the Saddleworth Historical Walk, and a container with some slightly rain damaged maps of the 3 kilometre walk. Somewhat disappointingly the brochures are not available online, but I have scanned a copy and placed it at the end of this section.

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Saddleworth Museum


There is a Saddleworth Museum, but it is only open on Sundays or Public Holidays unless by appointment.

At first I thought that the only other sign of life was at the Gilbert Valley Hotel, the most prominent building in Saddleworth. But like others before me, I had been fooled. As I discovered on my return journey, the main street of the town runs off the Barrier Highway and is easily missed.

I passed up on refreshments, and soldiered on to Manoora, my ultimate destination for today and the source of the Gilbert River.

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Saddleworth Heritage Trail Brochure page 1


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Saddleworth Heritage Trail Brochure page 2


Manoora

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Manoora Information & Map


The end game for my lightning trip to the Gilbert Valley was the township of Manoora, originally a sheep station established in 1840. There is a helpful information bay and map with suggestions of places to visit opposite the imposing Manoora Institute as you enter the town.

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Manoora Hotel


After a long trip I was ready for lunch, although my options were quite limited to the Manoora Hotel. Country hospitality was at its best though, and the friendly publican was happy to make me a toasted sandwich to carry me over for the last leg of my journey.

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Manoora Hotel Interior


I amused myself by browsing photos of Manoora's sporting achievements over the last fifty years :)

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Manoora Railway Station, Dwarfed by Washington Cotton Palms


I eat my tasty lunch chatting to a friendly local man with an enormous (equally friendly) Rottweiler, then headed for my goal - the abandoned Manoora railway station built in 1898 from bluestone quarried in Tarlee.

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Manoora Station Waiting Room


The roses, once carefully tended by the Station Master in the days when 60 steam trains passed by every week, now ramble rampantly across the deserted platform. The waiting room that echoed with the cries of excited and happy children is now silent.

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The Stone Water Tower to Service Steam Engines


The stone water tower still looks solid after a hundred years of service.

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Manoora Station Train Control


The station is generally well preserved inside. It's a pity that something hasn't been done to conserve the building, perhaps by transforming it into a residence.

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Manoora Station Sign


The station name is still visible through foliage, while a camera UV filter lies lost on the platform by an earlier explorer.

It's with a feeling of sadness that I depart the station. Despite the small size of the place, it's clear that the inhabitants take pride in their town, with houses kept in neat and well maintained condition.

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A Homely Rustic House in Manoora


I regretfully I set out for home. It's late in the day, and I didn't get to see even half of what I had planned. But perhaps another time I will get a babysitter for the dogs, maybe even base myself in Riverton to explore the area more fully.

There is a lot more that I want to see - up as far as Peterborough, and I could hardly do another visit without visiting some of my favourite wineries in Clare.

But that will have to wait for another day.

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The Rest Stop @ Winkler Park Near Saddleworth
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Your Comment
Excellent article.
by ross. (score: 0|8) 1409 days ago
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