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Adelaide is lucky to have a large number of green spaces for recreational use. Sometimes the problem is just finding where they all are.
One sunny morning I was idly browsing the net, looking for somewhere interesting to go when I stumbled across Craigburn Farm Shared Use Trails. They are actually a part of the huge Sturt Gorge Recreation Park south of Adelaide, and I had already visited the attractive Warriparinga Wetlands where the river meets the metropolitan area.
What particularly attracted me to Craigburn Farm's trails was that they are intended for a variety of uses - walking and hiking, horse riding, and mountain biking are all catered for. Even better, a number of trails of various difficulties have been mapped out for you, and dogs are permitted (on leash) there.
There's no need to take your GPS, and there's no chance of getting lost if you simply follow the signs. For me the hardest part turned out to be getting there. More about that later.
Having my dog with me, the logical path choice for my first visit was the Walk the Dog trail. The directions from Bonython Way were clearly marked with a map and colour coded sign posts, and we were soon making good time along the gently sloping path.
On a weekday there was no one else about - no traffic noise or other intrusions, just a few butterflies lazily flitting and the occasional bird call. The terrain is slightly hilly through grasslands with scattered trees, and evidence of some new plantings - some apparently done by mountain biker volunteers.
After about 10 minutes I spotted a lone bike rider, then saw a few more arriving and taking off rapidly down steep bicycle trails. One keen rider even had a video camera on his helmet to record the highlights of his ride.
While the dog was busy sniffing happily, I scanned the trees for local fauna. I didn't see any koalas, but there were plenty of native birds including Australian ravens (crows), rainbow lorikeets, and a few others I couldn't identify.
There are no amenities (water, toilets etc.) in the reserve, so it's best to bring a bottle of water and maybe some lunch if you plan to spend a while. Otherwise it's not far to return to Blackwood where there are plenty of places to eat.
The park entry on Bonython Way would be easily reached from Craigburn Road, but the entrance to the appropriately named Hayman Retreat has a "no entry" sign. It seems that the local residents are offended by the sight of other people's cars polluting their fair street, and lobbied the Mitcham Council to close the road.
This means that to access the Craigburn Farm shared trails in a vehicle it's necessary to drive a far longer route past a whole heap more houses in the subdivision - but Hayman Retreat residents don't get their tranquility disturbed. A classic case of NIMBY!
If you're mountain biking you can access the trails readily via a closed off section of Craigburn Road, but for those hiking in the reserve this means a ten minute additional walk to even reach the trails.
There are also a couple of other parks nearby that are great for hiking in the Adelaide Hills too - the Sturt River Linear Park has a little more to see, while at Blackwood Forest it's an off leash dog area.
On a Saturday morning the Lions Secondhand Book Shed down the road in Coromandel Valley has a big range of books going dirt cheap - ideal if you want to take a break from your hike.