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Published October 22nd 2012
The most picturesque ride in Adelaide
The River Torrens Linear Park was completed in 1997 and is the largest hills to coast park in Australia. Cyclists and walkers can use the 37km sealed trail that runs from Gorge Road in Athelstone in the north east to the river mouth at Henley Beach in the west.
The Linear Park's level, bitumen surface makes it ideal for families and people of all ages and all levels of fitness. Users can access the path at countless locations, and free bicycle hire is available between 9am and 4:30pm from Adelaide City Council (Bike SA).
Bikes can be picked up from several CBD locations including the Adelaide Convention Centre or the Par 3 Golf links at North Adelaide, right next to the Torrens Lake Weir. The great thing for tourists is that they can get to see so many sides to Adelaide that you might not otherwise experience.
I commenced my bike ride at the Adelaide Zoo after parking my car in the nearby North Adelaide parklands on Mackinnon parade. The banks of the river this time of year are very green around the Adelaide University and contrast well with the dark, glassy waters of the Torrens. I was surprised to see a number of fishermen trying their luck on the banks of the river. Wedding parties, picknickers, Pelicans, swans, ducks and seagulls create a lively scene.
Pelicans often venture upstream from the river mouth
The river flows past many iconic Adelaide landmarks including the Adelaide oval, Elder Park the Festival Theatre and the Convention Centre. Passing the Torrens Lake Weir one can get a glimpse of the foreboding walls and watchtowers of the grim Adelaide Gaol, opened in 1841 and still in use right up until 1988.
The crumbling, fortified walls of the old Adelaide Gaol
The green grassy riverbanks are full of Australian natives and chirping birds as you head under the busy Port rd intersection. The path ambles its way past the manicured lawns and gardens of the West End brewery before the ageing factories of Thebarton dominate the north side. The picturesque Adam Street cemetery is framed by beautiful shady trees on the edge of the steep riverbank. From south road more factories can be glimpsed through the trees, and the first signs of residential life appear on the northern side.
Every year the brewery chimney is painted in the SAFL premiership's team colours
Between Holbrooks and Tapleys Hill road ovals, parks, playgrounds and picnic areas abound. The park narrows around Flinders Park and the trail passes right by residential backyards until it widens again 2km from the beach at Lockleys.
The area from Henley Beach rd to Tapleys Hill rd is known as Break Out Creek. Restoration of Break Out Creek began in 1996 and was completed in 2010. This included extensive remodelling of the river profile, new footbridge and viewing platforms, weed removal and the planting of 200,000 indigenous plants covering dozens of different species. A viable ecosystem has been created by the Council with deep and shallow pools, reed beds and a fish ladder at the Torrens mouth to help native fish return to the river for breeding.
Horses graze on the riverbanks, some sporting brightly coloured jackets.
The beauty of the Linear Park is that there are no major roads to cross and there are many bridges along the length of the trail, enabling users to cross over the River and loop back to their starting point.
The Linear Park passes under many interesting bridges
The return trip from the city to the river mouth at the sea took me around 3 hours. Once you reach the river mouth at West beach it's only a short 2km ride along the beach front to the vibrant Henley Square with its many cafes and eateries.
Finally the Gulf of St Vincent comes into view. The Seaview rd bridge.
James, this is such an excellent article. I have only traversed a short section of Linear Park. After reading your review, I am keen to do the trip from City to West Beach but it will probably take me longer than 3 hours.