A great excuse for a weekend short stay or even just a country day trip out of Adelaide, the Rattler trail runs between Riverton and Auburn, in the mid-north of South Australia. It's just a short drive (just over 100km) north of the Adelaide CBD. This shared cycling/walking trail runs along what used to be a railway line and merges into the better-known Riesling trail, which traverses the Clare Valley winery region.
In its entirety, the trail is 19.5 kilometre's (12.11 miles) one way. So, unless you are up for a return trip of 39 kilometre's (24.23 miles), you may want to consider arranging a pick up or, alternatively, just doing a section. The track itself is generally well maintained and is relatively flat, so most fitness levels would be able to participate. Along the trail there are a number of informative signs providing information about the history, flora and geology of the area. One of my favourite things about this trail is that it’s dog friendly. Another of my favourite things is the diversity of the country side over a small distance - and the golden apple of a winery at the trails end - really, what more could you ask for?
RIVERTON TO RHYNIE
There is plenty of space for parking at the Riverton town oval, which is where the trail begins. The start of the trail is well marked with a large sign providing essential information and expected user etiquette. I will say if you are walking this section and going from Riverton to Rhynie, just take a moment to turn around and look back in the other direction from time to time. The upper Mount Lofty Ranges makes for a beautiful back drop against the surrounding rolling hills of the countryside.
Heading north from Riverton, the trail skirts out around the edge of the township and cuts through the golf course on the path of the old railway. After the golf course, the trail passes a lovingly restored farmhouse, complete with an old windmill, before rambling through a strand of Australian swamp oak. This area is, frankly, a little eerie due to the sudden stillness and silence broken only by the occasional creaking groan as the oaks sway against one another in the breeze. From here, the trail crosses the road and splits away through open cropping land before curving back to recross the road and into the past site of the old Rhynie station.
There is a rest point at Rhynie with a small shelter, table and bench - there is also a rain water tank. Unfortunately, if a bathroom is needed, the nearest public toilet is in the township which is roughly 1km away. The town has minimal services but there is a local pub if you want to opt for a more civilized rest break. There is a path that branches off from the trail that goes into the town.
RHYNIE TO AUBURN
From here onwards, the trail essentially runs parallel to the Main North Road. It’s at a slight distance, so you can expect to have the faint sound of traffic accompanying most of the remainder of the hike. The land is a mix of cropping and grazing land. The hills, while still rolling, start to increase in size and start to appear more like those of the Clare Valley. Despite the larger hills, the trail remains easy and relatively flat. Keep an eye out for wildlife and old relics of farm machinery in the nearby paddocks - remember to enjoy the scenery. There is one section of the trail which comes fairly close to the road and there is no fencing between the trail and road. This is only a short section and the trail splits away by a good distance soon after.
Point of interest 5 is the Undalya platform site. The display board provides information about the old settlement and rail station that once existed there and makes for an interesting read. Experience the country aromas as the trail passes a dairy farm and continues on through a series of cuttings. Take a bit of time to check out the exposed rock and learn a bit about the geology of the area. The trail continues on a winding path before plunging into more of a treed area, as the town is approached. The Rattler train ends at the site of the old Auburn railway, which currently houses Mount Horrocks wines. A perfect ending which makes for a great place to meet your pick up and perhaps indulge in a well earnt glass, if you are walking on a weekend or holiday.
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