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Published August 28th 2013
Just remember - bandicoots aren't rats
The Aldgate Valley Nature Walk Runs Through Pleasant Woodlands
Well, sort of new - some of the locals have been using parts of the trail for years as they walk their dogs or go to the shops, but the route has now been formalised as a public trail with markers, and some facilities have been provided.
I was alerted to the walk by the Parks For Us All group - a collection of people that enjoy using parks in Adelaide and elsewhere, and share their stories and photographs about parks flora and fauna on the website and on Facebook.
The walking trail can be started from either end, or from the Aldgate Valley Reserve on Shanks Road which is roughly in the middle. The reserve is also the border between Stage 1 and 2 of the walk - Stage 1 is now completed and runs from the reserve to Aldgate. Stage 2 connects the Aldgate Valley Reserve to Mylor, passing through Kyle Road Nature Reserve and along the Valley of the Bandicoots.
My GPS seemed very uncomfortable with this trip - it told me to turn off the freeway at the Mt Lofty exit, then sent me straight back on again before finally directing me into a church car park on Strathalbyn Road. Perhaps assuming that I needed spiritual guidance? Luckily some friendly local dog walkers were able to point me in the right direction.
Aldgate Valley Nature Walk Stage 1 It's quite easy to miss the Shanks Road turnoff to Aldgate Valley Reserve even while driving slowly along the narrow Aldgate Valley Road, and the reserve is located just a few metres further down. Unfortunately parking is very limited nearby - something to bear in mind if you drive up to use the walking trail. Personally I wouldn't drive in to the reserve because the turning area was quite muddy.
I spoke briefly with a helpful Adelaide hills Council worker who was busily put finishing touches to the nature walk. He clarified for me the track locations as some markers were not yet in place. This section of the trail is dog friendly - dogs are permitted on leads, but dogs are not permitted on Stage 2 due to the risk to wildlife.
The Aldgate Creek whispers and gurgles through the reserve and a new bridge has been built to cross the creek, with an interpretive sign and map conveniently placed. After a short walk along the creek and then briefly on Aldgate Valley Road, the track follows Blackwood Lane - a slightly muddy unsealed road that meanders through pleasant wooded terrain.
The walk then detoured onto a narrower track in even more heavily wooded country which seemed to be between two private properties. There was little noise other than the sound of bird calls, but I did meet several other dog walkers on my travels.
A final detour along an another little country path and through more rambling Adelaide Hills bushland led me unexpectedly to the Aldgate cemetery. While my dog Max busied himself sniffing through bushes, I browsed among gravestones and was very surprised to discover the Teesdale Smith family tomb.
Aldgate Valley Nature Walk Stage 2
On my second visit to the Aldgate Valley Reserve (without my dog) I followed Shanks Road up the hill. Just at the corner I noticed the former Aldgate Valley Church of Christ built in 1925, which is now a local heritage listed building and presumably converted to accommodation.
It passes the rather derelict looking National Trust Nurrutt Reserve and winds down a hill to the Kyle Road Reserve, adjacent to an animal sanctuary. From there the walk becomes a narrow walking trail through masses of spring bulbs and forest until I reached a creek crossing.
Unfortunately my shoes were not up to crossing on the slippery wet stones, or over a mossy branch. My attempts to go around the crossing were frustrated by a heavy growth of brambles that snagged my clothes, so this was the limit of my travels on Stage 2 to Mylor.
If you're prepared to take a running jump or wait for drier weather, the crossing should not be a problem. A couple of railway sleepers would make the crossing trivial in wet weather, but for now the remainder of the trail will remain on my to-do list.
Please note that the only facilities on the Aldgate Valley Nature Walk are interpretive signs and a picnic table at Adgate Valley Reserve. There are no toilets on the trail, although these are available at both ends. There are also cafes and shops in Aldgate and Mylor to obtain refreshments or provisions for you journey.