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Shiraz Trail- McLaren Vale to Willunga

Home > Adelaide > Cycling | Escape the City | Food and Wine | Free | Wineries
by James Newcombe (subscribe)
Freelance writer for feature articles, web content and blogs. Specializing in non-fiction articles on a range of subjects including lifestyle, travel, architecture and product reviews.
Published November 11th 2012
Historic ride on an old railway
A splash of colour outside McLaren Vale. Image by writer.

The 9km Shiraz trail takes you from McLaren Vale to the quaint village of Willunga. It extends further north to the Onkaparinga river, to Hackham, Old Reynella and Hallett Cove before finally finishing at Marino Rocks. The flat, straight bitumen path is suitable for families, cyclists and walkers and is part of the larger 37km 'coast to vines' rail trail.

I commenced my bike ride south to Willunga at the McLaren Vale Information Centre where I left my car in the large, shady carpark.

Info Centre
The Information centre at McLaren Vale. Image by writer.

Two historic railway carriages are now home to almond lovers at the 'Almond Train', located where the trail intersects Main road. These 1920's carriages were once used when the original Goodwood to Willunga railway line was still in operation.

Almond Train
The Almond Train sells gourmet produce, crafts, gifts and souvenirs. Image by writer

Heading south towards Willunga, the trail passes through vineyards, sheep grazing areas, a shady playground, restaurants with outdoor decks, tall stands of Eucalypt and Pine, wineries and the back doors of houses before the vista opens up to fields of hay and grapes.

Some interested onlookers. The Llamas protect sheep from fox attack.Image by writer

McLaren Vale vineyard. Image by writer

Along the way a nod is given by Council to the previous railway stations with covered seating areas and signage. One of these is Taringa station, in the valley at Pedler creek, and is a welcome stop along the path. The railway was important for the region; not only for passenger transport but as a way of getting local produce to the city markets. The last passenger train left Taringa in May 1957, the last freight train in April, 1969. In 1972 the entire rail track was removed.

Taringa station
Taringa station

old buildings
Derelict buildings behind the main st of McLaren Vale. Image by writer.

After crossing a couple of minor back roads, Willunga golf course appears on the left, whilst Willunga High School can be seen on the right. At Main street in Willunga, the track continues over the road where it ends at the Trailhead Horse Yards and now redundant Willunga station.

Willunga RS
The old Willunga railway station where the track ends.

The adjacent Willunga Park features a rose garden, duck pond, skate park, playground, electric BBQs and toilet facilities. The large expanses of lawn are a great spot for a picnic.

A good idea is to start the trail mid-morning from McLaren Vale and ride to Willunga where you can enjoy the excellent Farmer's Market in High street held every Saturday from 8am-12:30pm. Across the road the Quarry Market

Willunga Quarry Market is larger with more stalls and held the second Saturday of every month from 9am-1pm. The return trip from McLaren Vale to Willunga took me just 1.5 hours and was a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon, and only an hours drive from Adelaide.

Vineyard near Taringa.
Vineyard near Taringa. Photo by writer.
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Why? For a scenic ride from McLaren Vale to Willunga
When: All year round
Where: McLaren Vale
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Very informative & nice pics.
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|11307) 3305 days ago
What a nice scenic trail. Your article is enticing me to visit Mclaren Vale and Willunga soon. The Willunga markets are fantastic - love the produce there.
by Yin-Yin Ow (score: 3|1596) 3305 days ago
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