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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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