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Published October 9th 2017
Break your trip and enjoy the moment
Just over an hour out of Adelaide and at the end of the Freeway, Tailem Bend is one of those towns that most of us have a need to stop at. Perhaps it may be for a bathroom break, or for an early morning coffee at the Bakery or perhaps it is just to fill up with petrol at the cheaper regional prices at the last petrol stop before the City. Or perhaps it may be for a stretch of the legs before the next long stint behind the wheel, and this is where the Tailem Bend community can assist.
Tailem Bend is a town with much interest and history, and in an effort to encourage visitors to stay a little longer, the town has two main walking trails providing you with an opportunity to see what makes the town today, and to imagine what the town may have looked like all those years ago when first founded.
Recently re-branded and re-launced in conjunction with the team from Coorong OPAL, the River Rail Road Trail is a 2km trail through the centre of Tailem Bend and takes in many of the popular tourist spots, and highlights the three forms of transport that has placed Tailem Bend on the map. Along the trail, a number of information signs provide background information on the items of interest while other signs offer interesting health facts about walking and our bodies.
The trail starts in the gardens at the Tailem Bend Visitor Information Centre in the former Railway Station where maps can be obtained. The first stops are alongside the Rotunda and the Railway Lines, one of the three significant transport features of Tailem Bend over the years. Like most rail services, recent decades has seen a decline in movements to just a few freight trains each day, of which if you happen to be there at the right time to catch these, the counting-the-carriages remains a highlight for young kids.
The short trail then heads towards the Murray River, the first of the major transport means in the region. Like the rail infrastructure, much of the water infrastructure is aged, however the ferry continues as the means to get across the River, and the views from the cliffs above Tailem Bend are always worthy of a photo at any time of day.
The final part of the trail takes you back along the main highway, the modern method of transport. Visible for some distance, the Rhino at the southern entrance to the town is an exciting stop for kids and signifies that Monarto Zoo is not that far down the freeway and well worthy of a visit to see some of the larger beasts from the animal kingdom.
Railways came to Tailem Bend in 1906, and with the introduction of the Adelaide to Wolseley line in 1913, Tailem Bend needed a grand railway station. Over time the relevance of the station declined, and today it serves as an Information Centre / Museum and the start of the Historic Rail Trail.
The Rail Trail is best taken in two parts with the first part being a walking trail of some 4km past the old Rotunda, railway cottages, Railways Institute and the early hospitals and churches. Two of the items of interest, being the former Wurtun Railway Station and the Cemetery, are both a few kilometres out of town and are best accessed by car.
Similar to many old towns, a number of the heritage buildings are now in private hands, with some of them continuing to receive the loving care and attention that they once did from their proud original owners. The old Hospital and the Methodist Church on Granites Road are two great examples of such buildings. But Heritage Walks are not just about what it highlighted as significant, but also about finding other gems around town, and this old Ford Truck qualifies as one of those outside the home of an antique's collector.
Both the River Rail Road Trail and the Historic Rail Trail commence outside the Railway Station with the well-maintained gardens, playground and toilet facilities nearby. The aroma of freshly baked goods from the adjacent Tailem Bend Bakery offers a tempting reward for both the young and old kids at the conclusion of the walk. Further details on each of the walks are available at the Information Centre, the local Council offices, or available online.