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Take a Scenic Road Trip from Adelaide

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by Dave Walsh (subscribe)
I enjoy writing about Adelaide and its many attractions. If you think Adelaide is boring, the problem is not with Adelaide. Please click the link to Like my articles, and subscribe to see more. adelaideunearthed.blogspot.com.au
Published July 13th 2013
Scenic tours are full of hidden surprises
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A Lion Sculpture at Elephants Rest


Making road trips fun
The school holidays are a popular time to escape the city and do scenic tours to the country.

Places like Victor Harbour, the Adelaide Hills, Yorke Peninsula, Port Willunga and the River Murray are all popular destinations for a scenic drive.

But when you route a trip, do you just jump in the car and head for the freeway - content to get to your destination as quickly as possible? Or do you enjoy taking your time, stopping occasionally to sample local produce or wines? Perhaps pause at a country pub or bakery for a meal? Even stop at a local art gallery or museum?

While planning a recent trip to Murray Bridge I stopped to think about what the trip route had been before the freeway was built. Back then we would have followed the Old Princes Highway through a series of country towns. It meandered into Littlehampton and Nairne (past the old Chapman's Factory), Dawesley and Kanmantoo, then on to Callington and Monarto before reaching Murray Bridge.

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A Cottage at Kanmantoo in the Adelaide Hills


A quick look at Google Maps showed me that driving on the freeway to Murray Bridge would take 58 minutes, but to route a trip through all the small towns would take only 17 minutes longer. Personally I find that freeway travel gets a bit boring, with little change in scenery other than different bridge styles. I usually take my favourite CD along to let me drift away to some music.

As I wasn't in any hurry to get to my destination, I set the Old Princes Highway trip route into my GPS and set off on a scenic drive through charming old Adelaide Hills towns to Murray Bridge and the River Murray.

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Former Post Office at Dawesley


Dawesley
After passing through Littlehampton and Nairne, my first stop was at the village of Dawesley. This place is easy to miss as the only building on the main road is the former post office, complete with private mail boxes.

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Commonwealth of Australia Private Mail Boxes


However Jonathan Art Centre is nearby, where painting courses and art classes are held for visitors. There is also the option of bed and breakfast if they wish. It's only a 15 minute road trip from Mount Barker, so very convenient to other facilities.

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The Kanmantoo Hall Built in 1864


Kanmantoo
After passing Native Valley the next town along the highway is Kanmantoo where mines have operated since 1845. They are not visible from the main street, where charming stone buildings and the quaint 1864 Kanmantoo Hall are clustered.

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The Osteria Sanso Restaurant Serves Tuscan Food


Not only does Kanmantoo have a general store, but also the Osteria Sanso restaurant specialising in Tuscan cuisine, with accommodation available just next door. It's very handy if you wish to avoid the drive back to Adelaide after having a few drinks.

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A Playground in Kanmantoo


Short term visitors are catered for in Kanmantoo also, with a playground and sheltered barbeque area located on the main road.

If you're travelling with children it makes a good place to stop and stretch your legs without stretching the budget.

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The Callington Hotel - A Classic Country Pub


Callington
The next town along the trip route is Callington, where the Callington Hotel is a classic country pub with a friendly licensee. It was a bit early for me to have a drink when I stopped, but the owner was happy to chat.

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The Lavande of Callington French Restaurant


A short distance down the street I saw the Lavande of Callington, a restaurant in a former police station built in 1867. I'd never expected to find a French restaurant in town, but this little gem is typical of the surprises that you find when doing scenic tours. Unfortunately the restaurant was closed when I visited as the owner had injured herself, but it has since re-opened on weekends while the owner is recuperating.

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The Elephants Rest African Garden Gallery


Next door is Elephants Rest, an amazing African themed gallery with some very unusual carvings on display. Check out their website gallery for other examples. Unfortunately Elephants Rest was also closed, with the website stating that the owners will be travelling in Africa for some time. However it is still possible to see sculptures in the front garden.

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A Windmill Powered Cyclist


After leaving Callington we were amazed to stumble upon a collection of weird windmills on a property. There must have been ten or fifteen, in a bizarre collection of styles. My favourite was a windmill that powered a cyclist, so that his legs turned while wind was blowing. Very ingenious.

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The Bremer Mine Produced Copper


Our final stop before Murray Bridge was at the site of the Bremer Mine where a historical marker and interpretive signs told the story of copper mining in the area.

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A Sign Warns That the Mine Area is Private Property


There were some remains including a chimney stack and some well restored buildings. However the owner clearly does not encourage visitors to stop by.

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A Water Bird on the River Murray


What do you think?
On your next scenic tours, will you choose a trip route that takes you the quickest way to your destination? Or will you explore alternative ways through places like the Adelaide Hills, and see what hidden gems you find?

Let us know what you discover in the comments.
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Why? The fast lane is not always the best.
When: SA
Where: Anywhere
Your Comment
Great scenic trip - the elephant's rest was a great place. I was able to meet the owners a while ago and they do amazing work in Africa - all self funded.
by Annie Waddington-Feather (score: 2|186) 2167 days ago
Nice scenic road trip Dave. I also enjoy exploring the small towns and taking my way off the beaten track when I have time.
by Yin-Yin Ow (score: 3|1596) 2226 days ago
I enjoyed the photos and will try your suggestions!
by Jenny (score: 3|1684) 2226 days ago
Nice one Dave. Great photos.
Those towns are very quaint.
I have been to the Osterio Sanso its a lovely restaurant....
by James Newcombe (score: 2|359) 2224 days ago
When we go past the many and varied 'windmills' in Callington we stop for a while to admire the handiwork...especially if it's windy.
by soupson (score: 2|133) 2226 days ago
For years I drove through Pt. Wakefield not realising there was an entire town there with a couple of pubs and even a port! Another place easily missed is Curramulka on Yorke Peninsula,- it`s almost invisible from the main road but well worth the detour. Cheers Dave, Brendan McGuire
by slogg (score: 1|62) 2225 days ago
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