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Published September 11th 2016
Take a walk on the east side
South Australia is blessed with some great Hills walking trails with the iconic long distance Heysen Trail holding the mantle as the premier trail. But another trail is starting to make its mark as an alternative long distance hills trail, but with an entirely different outlook on South Australia's hills and countryside.
The Lavender Federation Trail is a walking trail in the eastern Mount Lofty Ranges in South Australia and currently extends from Murray Bridge to Webb Gap (north of Eudunda). The trail is named after Terry Lavender OAM and development started in 2000 with over 300km of trail already opened, and a further 100km planned as the trail winds its way to its ultimate final destination of Clare.
The trail starts at Sturt Reserve by the Murray River in Murray Bridge. It climbs out of Murray Bridge through Rocky Gully and passes Monarto Zoo and the remains of Preamimma Mine. The trail crosses the ridge with views over the Bremer River valley, and up to the summit of Mount Beevor at around 500m above sea level. The trail then continues north along the eastern Mount Lofty Ranges past Tungkillo and through the Eden Valley wine region to the centre of Travellers Resting town of Truro.
From Truro the trail passes through Dutton and some early pioneering countryside to Eudunda, the original home of Colin Thiele. Continuing north the trail continues on the eastern ranges towards Inspiration Point, before heading westward to Webb Gap where the trail meets the Heysen Trail.
Like the Heysen Trail, the Lavender Trail may be tackled as a whole or in bite size pieces with distances of 20km per day generally easily achievable. Typically the Eastern Ranges feature several stretches of bald green hills that are generally unsuitable for cropping due to being on the wrong side of Goyder's Line, although a number of rocky creek crossings and gorges would cast a different impression.
Another great difference with the Lavender Trail is the introduction of numerous spurs and loops from the main trail, providing regular walkers with a greater view of the surrounds, or casual walkers with a nice walk around a local town or community. Many of the spurs or loops take walkers into nearby towns which have been bypassed by the main trail, such as those at Springton, Eden Valley, Pine Point and Robertstown.
Meanwhile there are also some spurs which take walkers past some scenic locations such as the Tungkillo and Moculta loops, or the popular Jailbreak trail adjacent to Monaro Zoo and the Murray Bridge Prison. In August 2016 another spur was opened from Sanderston which takes walkers across a different part of the Eastern Ranges, and through the beautiful Saunders Gorge Sanctuary.
Walkers need not worry about getting lost on the Lavender Federation Trail, unless of course they cant read signs ! Great directional signage is prominent at every corner and alongside numerous fences, while small distance signs at loop / spur intersections provide indications of distance travelled. Meanwhile each of the larger towns typically features a large sign board advertising the trail, local attractions, and distances to travel. And if that isn't enough information for you, the volunteers who prepared and maintain the trail have assembled a series of topographic maps to give even greater details on distances, terrain and topography.
The trail has adopted a lavender colour in its signage to ensure that it stands out, but also as a mark of respect for Terry Lavender. Further information on the trail is available from the Lavender Federation Trail website or from their facebook page.