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Departing from the Cudlee Creek café, the 3km-walking trail from Cudlee Creek to Chain of Ponds is a bushwalk, which offers challenging hill climbs, scenic views of farm lands, vineyards and the sprawling hills and a trek through bush land.
Located 32km from the city, Cudlee Creek is a small town situated on Gorge Road which is a favourite of cyclists, walkers and classic car club members. Facilities include a café, pub, golf course and caravan park.
Cudlee Creek became well known for cheese making when the first European settler, William Kelly established Sulby Glen Estate. Cudlee Creek also became an exporter of fruit, in particular apples and pears. In 1922, a cold store was built for a fruit growers' cooperative.
Crossing over the River Torrens on the Union Bridge at the start of the trail could almost be considered an extreme sport. The bridge is just wide enough for two cars and situated on a blind bend. The original bridge, constructed from timber in 1871, was replaced with the current steel and concrete arched bridge in 1917, before cars had to share the bridge with pedestrians.
To safely negotiate the bridge it is necessary to wait at the start of the bridge, listen carefully for approaching cars and if silence prevails, run like crazy until reaching the gateway at the end of the bridge. No mean feat with a backpack.
Keeping toward the left will take you uphill, where scenic views wait, before travelling downhill, alongside a vineyard, toward the Adelaide-Mannum pipeline. The 60km pipeline, the first major pipeline built from the River Murray to meet the needs of Adelaide, began operating in March 1955.
In previous years, this area has been damaged by fire. It is interesting to see how the trees regrow, with leaves sprouting from the lower parts of the tree trunk. Following the Heysen Trail signs is vital in this section of the walk, as the land looks the same from one path to the next. It would be easy to get lost in this part of the trail and mobile phone coverage is intermittent.
Little remains of the town except the badly vandalized cemetery. The small town, originally called Philiptown after Oliver Philip who owned the Morning Star Hotel, was a small hamlet, which served as one of four changing stations for the Adelaide to Mannum Coach Service in the mid 1850s. The town became known as Chain of Ponds in 1864.
The Millbrook Reservoir, built in 1918, near the town caused concern from Adelaide residents in regard to pollution of the reservoir water supply by the Chain of Ponds residents. As a result, the Chain of Ponds town was demolished between 1977 and 1981 after being purchased by the State Government.
Hiking boots and long pants are recommended for this walk, which will take approximately one hour each way. Although the trail is predominantly on fire tracks, some parts can be barely visible tracks through the grass. This track is part of the Heysen Trail and can be accessed easily from Gorge Road, adjacent to the Union Bridge.
The Cudlee Creek café is definitely worth a visit, great coffee, locally sourced produce and friendly, helpful owners. In the winter months, the licensed café offers a wood wire to warm up after a walk or in the warmer months, relaxing in the outdoor area is an ideal place to unwind.
I would say this walk wasn't as challenging as the article says , the walk from the cudlee creek cafe is dangerous and unsafe as cars drive past you crossing the bridge , the entrance however is the best part of the walk as you enter a forrestry of greenery and views of the farmland valleys , the last leg of the walk is a big circle of nothing that brings you back to the start , the chain of ponds and cemetery are only accessible by car not walking and the walk itself isn't long an hour at most return , I recommend the cafe for the food is exceptional.