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Published February 10th 2015
One of South Australia's hidden secrets
The Inman Valley on the Fleurieu Peninsula is one of South Australia's hidden gems. Light traffic, scenic countryside and historical pieces add to the attraction, and make it ideal for tourists, cyclists and anyone else who wishes to experience a great piece of South Australian country.
The Inman Valley Road commences in Encounter Bay and heads up a short hill, past the golfcourse and the quarry, and over the range before dropping down in to the valley itself. Large flood plains are dotted with cattle grazing, odd kangaroos, majestic gum trees and numerous flowering native bushes and trees.
After 2km or so the road crosses an oft-dry creek which feeds into and becomes the Inman River. The main valley road parallels this river for the next 15km occasionally criss-crossing. Winter sees water running in the river as it eventually travels towards its outlet in to the sea near the Victor Harbor Caravan Park.
Continuing west along the main road, the small hamlet of Lower Inman appears. Known predominantly for its large CFS station, there is little else in the village aside from a few houses, a couple of hobby farms and a striking old barn on the side of the hill.
The Rock View Café sits on the northern side of the valley road overlooking Glacier Rock. Glacier Rock is a large rock sitting in the bed of the Inman River that has glacial features, and was formed some 300 million years ago in the days when South Australia was covered in ice. The rock itself is believed to be made from boulders, some of which have been estimated by Geologists to be in excess of 450 million years of age.
A few more kilometres further on and the Heysen Trail appears and follows the road for 3km in to the township of Inman Valley. The Heysen Trail is a series of interconnected trails that form one long 1,200 km walking trail from Cape Jervis to the Flinders Ranges.
Nestled opposite a small grove of pine trees, which was the original home of the Orange Grove Tearooms from 1923-1960, is the remnants of the Inman Valley Post Office which was open from 1855 to 1983. The original foundation stones of St Thomas's Anglican Church are also nearby, and are now presented in a cairn marking the site. In days gone by, these buildings would have been popular places to visit, but sadly the passage of time and the creation of alternatives meant that they are no longer.
Entering the town of Inman Valley, a pleasant sight appears on the south side as an imaginative handyman has decorated his garden with 'creatures' made out of used tin, steel and other metals. The giant bull ant on the tree and the resting skeleton are particularly striking pieces, and create conversation points as we reflect on their genesis.
Within the town, the Memorial Hall hosts an arts, craft and produce market once a month (on the first Saturday), while the former service station has become the Inman Valley General Store and Country Kitchen which incorporates a cafe, wood oven pizza outlet and general post office. If you have any kids with you on the tour, make sure you show them the glass cubicle box sitting outside the front of the store with 'Telstra' written on it. This glass cubicle is called a telephone box, and one day is likely to go the same way of the old Post Office further up the road and will become a historical artefact.
Once outside the town, the river's catchment area dries up as the road meanders up to the top of the hill, and the intersection with the appropriately named Bald Hills Road. From there, there are extensive 360 degree views towards Kangaroo Island in the south, Yankalilla in the west, Myponga valley in the north, and expansive views to the east of the Inman Valley where we have just come from.
The Inman Valley Road (to the top of the hill) is around 20km and is predominantly flat aside from the last 2km, and is suitable for cyclists and tourists alike. The Rock View Café and the Inman Valley General Store are both open from 830am to 5pm daily, with occasional extended hours (check their websites) on weekends. So what are we waiting for - let's get out and enjoy a beautiful stretch of South Australian country.
I think you'll find that the old Inman Valley PO, near where the the wonderful Orange Grove Tea Rooms used to be, didn't survive into the 20th. century, maybe the date in your article should have been 1883, not 1983. The history of the many small country Post Offices of South Australia would make interesting reading.
Also, are you sure that what you refer to as an old barn at Lower Inman is such, I remember some great children's Christmas Parties at a community hall thereabouts.
I grew up on a dairy farm, up the Mt Alma Rd. from Glacier Rock, alongside Ducknest Creek. Beautiful countryside. Also attended the Middle Inman Primary School for a few years.
I would love to walk the length of Ducknest Creek, down the hills, through the upper valley, then the rocky gorge out on to the main valley, on to where it meets the Inman River at Glacier Rocks.
Another walk I'd like to do, if it is possible and allowed, is up the gorge to Strangways Falls and the Tower of Babel. Used to ride our bikes out from Victor up around that area from Sawpit Rd, above Strangways Falls, along the Devil's Backbone and down to Glacier Rocks back home, pulling the bottles of Stringer's Aerated Waters from where we'd left them to keep cool in the little creek down from Porter's Hill that you mentioned in your article.
All the best,