At the base of the Adelaide Hills, about 30 minutes from Adelaide, lies the town of Mt Barker. First sighted by Captain Charles Sturt in 1830, the town was named after Captain Collet Barker, who was responsible for surveying the area in 1831. Duncan McFarland, who was intending to subdivide the land into lots for wheat and grain farming, later surveyed Mount Barker Township. Among the first settlers was John Dunn, builder of the first flourmill, which operated for 50 years before becoming a tourist attraction. Today the town is home to many historic buildings, a variety of coffee shops and restaurants and some interesting walking trails.
Panoramic views over the town from the summit. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
The summit is a short drive, following the brown and white road signs, from Mt. Barker via Springs Road and Summit Road or from nearby Nairne, via Bartley Street and Summit Road. Vehicles can access the Summit entrance during daylight hours. There are no facilities at the summit, taking adequate water is essential.
Views of the township of Mt. Barker can be seen from the Mt Barker Summit, located 10km from the town. From an elevation of 517m the summit also provides views of Mt Lofty in the northwest, the Bremer Valley in the east and as far south as the Coorong.
The path to the summit has two short steep sections. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
From the car park, a short 1 km walk will take you to the summit where a stone cairn identifies the summit, known as Wommu mu Katra, as an ancient burial site. Small heritage sites exist on the summit belonging to the traditional owners of the land, the Peramangk people and the Ngarrindjeri people who also used the summit for ceremonial rites. The Ngarrindjeri people attempted to prevent the construction of a police communications tower in 1984 and a mobile phone tower in 1987, although both attempts were unsuccessful.
The picnic area overlooks the town of Mt. Barker. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
The Loop Trail The 2.5 km-walking trail starting at the big rock near the car park is an easy walk with two slightly steep sections along a narrow dirt path, areas with steps and a section which requires wakers to limbo or crawl under the tree branches.
This bushwalk winds around the hill, providing an insight into the changing vegetation, which has adapted to the shallow rocky soils. From the hot and dry western slope where Silver Banksia and Rough barked Manna Gums grow, to the eastern slopes where the shallow soil causes the wide gaps between the vegetation and the lower slopes with the blue gums thriving in the deeper soil. The vegetation changes with the seasons; in the winter, orchids and lilies that are in flower, become dormant in the summer months, wildflowers are prevalent in spring. Volunteers who work to eradicate weeds and care for the bushland assist with the conservation of the vegetation, which continues to be under threat from introduced plants.
A lizard enjoying the sun on a cooler day. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Walkers can enjoy the variety of birdlife and wild life that can be seen on the trails including the small lizards enjoying the sun on the rocks in the warmer months. The uneven walking trails require a moderate level of fitness and are unsuitable for strollers or wheelchairs. Dogs on a leash are allowed. Sun protection and adequate water is vital as shade can be difficult to find in some parts of the reserve.