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Published June 14th 2015
In search of Australia's prickliest mammal
The Warren Tower in the Mt Crawford Forest is a strategically positioned tower on top of a hill overlooking the forest and the ranges beyond those. During January this year, when the Sampson Flat fires took hold, this Tower provided an important visual base for our emergency services personnel. Also, during the cooler climes, the Warren Tower is a destination for walkers on the aptly named Warren Tower Walk.
The walk commences from a small carpark on Watts Gully Road with a short boardwalk across what could be a slightly damp swamp during the midst of a wet winter. Crossing the boardwalk we approach trailhead 1 which provides an overview of the 9km loop. Leaving the trailhead, the signage is excellent with Warren Tower Walk signage every 200m, ensuring that we are on the right track.
Heysen Trail signage is also observed on the path as we head up the first hill with some views across the grazing country to the west. The Heysen Trail travels through this part of the Warren Conservation Park and the Mt Crawford Forest on its way from Kersbrook in the south to Tanunda in the north.
After about 0.5km the natural grazing land is replaced by the trees and shrubs of the Conservation Park, and at the 1.0km mark we come to the loop junction and another trailhead. The upper/right path has a shorter distance to the Tower, while the lower/left path appears to be more gradual.
We choose the lower path and continue past some Aldgate sandstone (Mica) and some maginificent large granite and moss rocks, which presumably had been there for years. The trail undulates a little, passes some creek growing ferns and grasses before crossing the small creek, and then starting a slow wind up the hillside to a range. It was at this point that I experienced something new.
I've been on plenty of hikes before, and have seen most of Australia's native animals, with perhaps too many of some of those that make a living by jumping everywhere and eating everything. But never before in the wild had I seen an echidna until I turned a corner on the way up the hill. There, sitting on the path with his head buried under a rock was one such cute looking beast.
Clearly frightened by the spectre of a large winter-clad ogre standing there with a camera, the echidna looked to bury his head further. Suddenly, and while I had momentarily put my camera down, the echidna turned, and scurried down the path a short distance before darting in to some bushes with a view to finding another bush or rock to bury its head in. Concerned then that I was perhaps scaring him in to doing something he wasn't wanting to, I moved on, and continued the long and gradual climb up to the range.
Aside from a narrow piece around a rocky outcrop and some more Aldgate sandstone, the trail heading to the range was easy going. Great views formed, as did our first glimpses of the Fire Tower. The single trail joined a fire trail, and passed some old stockyards and a dam, and after crossing a stile, the fire trail enters a large clearing and we make our way to the Fire Tower where 360 degrees tempt us.
To the North, the Warren and South Para Reservoirs are visible, while to the east the Mt Crawford Forest stands tall and unscathed by the 2015 bushfires. To the south, the view extends across undulating lands towards Mt Lofty, while looking west the Kersbrook Forest and the Williamstown hills are prominent. Although not visible on the day that we were there, it appears that views of the St Vincent Gulf and possibly Yorke Peninsula may also be visible.
From the Tower, there is a fire trail that heads south and takes you to Tower Road at the entrance of the Mt Crawford Forest. Ignore this fire trail and the Heysen Trail on your left, and follow the signs across the clearing, staying close to a clump of moss rocks, until you reach a partly hidden stile.
Cross the stile and continue along the fire trail a short way, before a single path arrives from your left. Take this single path, and commence the downhill descent. The countryside on the downhill is similar to the uphill, albeit with more of the beautiful yakka bushes.
At the 8km mark, the downhill trail arrives at the Trailhead 2 junction, where you continue straight and eventually arrive at the car park. The Warren Tower Walk is of moderate gradient, and suitable for everyone in the family. Further details on the Warren Tower Walk is available from the online brochure or available at the Trailhead on Watts Gully Road.