I am a freelance writer, photographer & fitness instructor. I enjoy hiking and kayaking and writing walking guides. Visit our website www.greataussiewalks.com.au or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/greataussiewalks
Published June 4th 2016
Walk, run, cycle, hug a koala at Eagle on the Hill
Eagle on the Hill, once a stopping point for a meal at the pub or a steak sandwich from the service station, is now a shadow of its former glory since the South Eastern Freeway was designed. Located 9km from the city on Mount Barker Road, Eagle on the Hill reportedly became popular with downhill speedboarders travelling at incredible speeds. Today, the Yurrebilla and the Pioneer Women's Trails run through the area and cyclists use the designated cycle lanes to climb and descend Mount Barker Road, once used by early settlers to transport timber and goods from the Adelaide Hills to the Adelaide Markets.
Eagle on the Hill Hotel circa 1900 B34076 State Library of South Australia
The Eagle on the Hill Hotel now stands empty. First opened in 1853 by licensee William Anderson, the hotel was originally called the Anderson Hotel, before changing to The Eagle on the Hill in 1855, then the Eagle's Nest in 1859. Returning to the previous name of Eagle on the Hill in 1860, the hotel was almost completely destroyed by fire in 1899 and suffered complete destruction in the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983. The rebuilt hotel continued to operate until around 2005 when the South Eastern Freeway rerouted the stream of passing traffic.
Koala in the gum tree in the Mt Lofty Ranges. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Easily accessible from the metropolitan area, this 7 km walk is a bushwalk located just outside the city. From the Old Bullock Track entrance, walk through the gateway toward the information signs at the start of this walk, which provide information about the history of the area, as well as the various walking and cycling trails. Following the Yurrebilla Trail signs, the trail journeys toward the Mount Lofty Summit track before turning off to traverse the boundaries of the Cleland Conservation Park, finishing on the Pill Box Track on Mount Lofty Summit Road, near Summertown.
The trail meanders through beautiful trees and vegetation. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Intersecting with the Waterfall Gully to Mt Lofty Summit track, some parts of this walk can be busy with walkers heading to the Mt Lofty Summit, until reaching the more isolated Wine Shanty Track. Walking through the blue gums, wattles and manna gums, the path varies from wide even paths to narrow trails with loose rocks. Sections of the walk include moderately steep ascents and descents, so a good level of fitness is required for this walk.
Views of Adelaide from the trail. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Looking out over the city of Adelaide from the trail, the modern development is in contrast to the surrounding area with rock faces where block faulting occurred over 20 million years ago. The area of the Mt Lofty Ranges was laid down as sediments as part of the formation of the earth's crust millions of years ago. Early settlers referred to the ranges as the Tiers due to the step like appearance of the rock faces when viewed from the city and coast. This gave rise to the name 'Tiersmen' in reference to the men who lived in huts in the gullies behind Mt. Lofty, reputed to be thieves and trouble makers who were runaways, escaped convicts from the eastern states, timber cutters and bushrangers.
The trail traverses a variety of bush tracks and sealed paths through native vegetation. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
The trail changes from a sealed to gravel path numerous times along the trail. Stone seats set into the rock face in several locations provide a welcome rest stop along the way as the trail passes behind the Third and Fourth Falls. A short walk off the trail, on the Waterfall Gully section, leads to the ruin of the Chinamans Hut. Little is known about the history of the ruins.
On the Bilba Track section, the trail passes the along the boundary of the Cleland Wildlife Park. Open everyday, except Christmas Day and days of catastrophic fire danger, from 9:30am to 5pm, the Wildlife Park has been providing a place for visitors to appreciate animals in their natural environment since 1967. Accessed from the South Eastern Freeway at 365 Mount Lofty Summit Road in Crafers, the Reserve has picnic and barbecue facilities to make a family day out complete.
Tall gums forma beautiful backdrop to the walk. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Heysen Trail walkers join the trail at this point from the Lodge Track, with both trails continuing along the Wine Shanty Track onto the Pillbox Track to the turnaround point at Mt Lofty Summit Road.
Allow about 3 hours each way to complete the moderately challenging walk. Facilities on the trail are limited, an adequate supply of water and sun protection are essential. Due to the uneven surfaces, the trail is not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs.
This walk forms the second of the five legs of the 54 km Yurrebilla Trail from Belair National Park to Ambers Gully, passing through the Mt Lofty Ranges. Officially opened in September 2003, the trail provides a scenic challenging bush walk in close proximity to the CBD.
For those who prefer to cycle, a network of cycling tracks throughout Cleland Conservation park deliver trails for easy, intermediate and advanced riders. Mountain Bike riders can experience 21kms of cross country trails in the Eagle Quarry Mountain Bike Park on the Crafers side of the South Eastern Freeway. Designed to accommodate a variety of abilities, the park contains a skills development park, a downhill trail, a jumps park and trials area. Accessed from Mt. Barker Road, Leawood Gardens, the park is open from sunrise to sunset everyday except Christmas day, total fire ban days and days of extreme weather.