In this chapter of our Bike Trails and Rides series, we’ll be heading over to South Australia to check out what they have in store for bike riders like ourselves. But in case you missed it, here are our feature blogs for our top trails in Brisbane, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.
While most interstate tourists visit South Australia for the wine, the wildlife and the natural wonders, the region has something in store for bike tourers and bike packers alike. Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned rider looking for new lands to conquer, you’d be excited to learn that South Australia covers some of the most arid parts of the country—this can only mean more open spaces and trails where your electric bike can take you.
Continue reading to discover our curated list of the top bike trails and rail trails in South Australia.
Riesling and Rattler Trail
Start/End: Riverton Former Railway Station to Barinia Former Railway Site
Trail Type: Fine Gravel
This rail trail passes through one of Australia’s premier wine regions, which is why there’s a consensus that it’s the region’s best-known trail and most popular route. Riding through this trail will take you through seven townships and numerous cellar doors. You’d also be able to experience a bit of history because some of the original railway cuttings and infrastructure are still visible as they form part of the trail.
The trail consists of three main sections, which are all distinct from one another, in terms of topography and scenery. The Rattler section will take you across open farms, Reisling passes through wine regions and historic towns, and the last section will give you an enjoyable flatland experience.
- Clare Valley Vineyards and Cellars
- Fine Dining Options using Local Produce
- Vibrant Tourist Area
- Historic Buildings: John Horrocks Cottage, St Aloysius’ Church and Martindale Hall
Riverton to Auburn (19km)
The section opens up from the north end of the Riverton Oval. Make sure you take the time to explore Riverton’s picturesque rail station still intact. You can take your first break at Rynie railway station site shelter. Pushing to Auburn will take you through a pine-shaded corridor, then, past the oval to the site of the Auburn station.
Take a left into Church Street to cross the creek, and you’ll find the Auburn Centenary Park to your right. If you need to resupply at the town centre, you’ll find it a little further at the end of Church Street.
Auburn to Clare (25km)
This exceptionally well-maintained section of the trail will feature plenty of wineries along the way. Departing north from the Auburn station will let you cross a bridge where the trail joins the old railway corridor. Once you get to the highway and cross with care, you’ll be faced with a gentle climb all the way to Leasingham, approximately 8km away. Look for the site of the missing bridge and bypass it; the trail continues the gentle climb all the way to Watervale and Pentwortham.
When you get to Pentwortham, Highway 83 crosses beneath the trail and follows it to Clare. When you get to this location, you have the chance to visit the historic St. Mark’s Church, where John Horrocks was buried back in 1846. You can also visit his original cabin on the corner of Surrey Lane and Horrocks Highway.
You’ll be pushing another 5km more until you reach Sevenhill. Your landmark is the local cemetery where you’ll begin your descent into Clare. Notable stops are the Aloysius Church and the Sevenhill Cellars, which are a short distance up College Road.
This section of the trail ends at a carpark at the old railway yard—the station is long gone but a new shelter was built next to the Leasingham Winery. From here, you can follow the signs to the highway and into Clare Township.
Clare to White Hut (10km)
The section extends all the way north from the site of Clare railway station. The last section will take you through a fairly flat surface which goes through shady cuttings and bridges, then all the way out to picturesque farmlands. The trail finally comes to an end at Barinia Road in White Hut.
Southern Flinders Rail Trail
Start/End: Laura/Melrose to Stone Hut/Wilmington
Trail Type: Coarse and Fine Gravel
This famous rail trail blends seamlessly into the landscape and gives a little bit of a challenge as it takes the rider through some rough sections and creek crossings. eMTB riders at the base of Mount Remarkable also find this trail complementary to their action-packed rides.
The traditional custodians of the land and rivers are the Nukunu people, and the trail is currently managed by the Mount Remarkable District Council. For specific concerns about the trail, you can contact the council at 8666 2014.
This relatively narrow railway was once the artery which joined Gladstone, Laura, Stone Hut, Wirrabara, Yandiah, Booleroo Centre, Perromba, Melrose, Terka and Wilmington. Gladstone, in its time, was a bustling station which served the rapidly developing wheat industry. Today, very little remains of its grain silos, cattle yards, warehouses and railway turntable.
The trail is divided into four main sections which all vary in terms of scenery, surface and topography. You’ll be riding through open farmlands, dirt cycle pats, pine trees and open plains.
- Mount Remarkable
- Alligator Gorge
- World-Class MTB Trails
- Pichi Richi Railway
- Flinders Ranges
- Melrose Campgrounds
Laura to Gladstone (2.5km)
This first section opens up on the outskirts of Laura and runs parallel to the Main North Road. Your landmark will be the ‘Welcome to Laura’ sign and the trail will run smoothly towards Gladstone. Please note that the coarse gravel will be better-ridden on a mountain bike.
Laura and Stone Hut (7km)
This next section was completed in 2011 and still runs alongside the Main North Road. This “high-class” trail offers riders a smooth, hard-packed gravel surface, and you’ll know you’ve entered this section once you see the northern ‘Welcome to Laura’ sign, near the Laura Golf Club. The section ends half a kilometre shy of stone hut, and you can use the road to get to the Stone Hut bakery.
Wirrabara towards Stone Hut (3km)
If you choose to come off from this point, you’ll be riding through fairly good quality gravel surfaces with rough creek crossings. The trail was completed in 2011 and follows the rail alignment south of the Wirrabara silos. You’ll find yourself winding through scenic hills and shady clumps of pine trees.
Booleroo Centre to Melrose (17km)
This recently-completed section features good-quality compacted fine gravel trails and follows the old railway alignment. As it moved through open farmlands and Mount Remarkable, you’ll be tasked with crossing four creeks, so best be prepared to get a little bit wet.
- Bastion East Creek – Steep Embankments
- Bastion West Creek –The Trail will Cross the Creek Bed
- Collins Creek –The Trail Crosses the Creek Bed Past the Original Rail Bridge
- Rotten Creek –A Large Creek with Steady Water Flow
You can leave your vehicles in Booleroo Centre near the historic railway display on the corner of Campbell and Arthur Streets. The nearby Stephens Street offers public toilets and a few shops where you can rest and refresh. Continue riding west along Arthur Street and take the first right towards Colin Street. Follow Colin Street to its bend and you’ll see the trail appear.
You can follow the trail all the way to the silos on the outskirts of Melrose. About 5km out from Booleroo Centre, the trail will cross Perroomba Road and you’ll find the remains of the old Perroomba Station.
Once you get past the Melrose silos, the trail follows Girdham Road to Horrocks Highway. This will be where the trail crosses into the Melrose Showgrounds and continues to Wilmington. When you turn left within the showgrounds, you’ll find yourself riding into Melrose Township. Paradise Square and the town centre will be a convenient resting spot.
Melrose to Wilmington (22km)
Like the previous section, this part of the trail was completed in 2011, and features high-quality gravel and follows the old railway alignment whenever possible. This section will also let riders come across creek crossings and features beautiful views of Mt. Remarkable to the west and Flinders Range to the east.
Please note that summers can get really hot in this region, so it’s best to ride between autumn and spring. But regardless of the season, please make it a point to pack enough water and supplies because travel time can be longer due to creek crossings and headwinds. Wilmington will have public toilets, but food and water will be hard to find.
The section begins from the corner of Joes Road and Horrocks Highway, opposite the ‘Over the Edge’ bike shop. Follow Horrocks highway north for about 700m until you reach Dorrington Road. Once you get to Dorrington Road, the trail will enter private property through a gate on the corner. This part includes a ford across Willochra Creek and winds through large eucalypts all the way to the entrance of the Melrose Showground.
Follow the path around the buildings at Showground and the old railway alignment will be at the northern end. The trail continues to move along the old rail alignment through open fields until you reach the entrance to the Willowie Forest mountain bike network.
Along this section, you’ll be crossing Goyder’s Line, separating cropping lands, prepared by George Goyder in 1865. About 7km away from the Showground, the trail will cross Horrocks Highway and continues through open views of the plains to the northeast.
When you get to the Spring Creek crossing, you’ll see an old chimney, which is all that remains of the township of Terka. The last creek crossing will only be a short distance from Wilmington; Stony Creek, as its name suggests, will have you dismounting and walking across while you enjoy the scenery.
At the end of the trail, take a left into Gogler Road and continue past the silos to Tuckwell Street. A slight ride past the primary school to the main road will take you to the Wilmington Hotel. There will also be shops and self-serve machines on the corner of Dignan Street for food and drinks. Public toilets will also be available, next to the fire stations. And please note that mobile phone coverage will be limited.
Barossa Rail Trail
Start/End: Gawler to Angaston
Trail Type: Sealed
This rural trail will take you through vineyard scenery and plenty of German heritage. The sections from Tanunda to Angaston is flat and perfect for children and less-experienced bikers. The shared-use trail, for walking and cycling, sits in the heart of Barossa Valley and goes through the towns of Gawler, Tanunda, Nuriootpa and Angaston through the old railway corridor.
The Barossa towns will have plenty of coffee shops, restaurants and bakeries for tourists. Lyndoch, Tanunda, Nuriootpa and Angaston will have toilets and picnic grounds. Also, the Tanunda Visitor’s Centre will have showers, bike hires, toilets, lock-ups, bike tools and spare parts. The Gawler Visitor Centre will also have the same amenities, including bike maintenance stands, drinking fountains, picnic tables and shelter.
- Wine and Food
- Barossa Towns
- Barossa Adventure Station and Recreation Area
Gawler to Lyndoch (14km)
This high-quality hot-mix-surfaced trail was completed in 2014 and opens up from the Gawler Central Railway Station. You’ll be travelling via Murray Street and turning right at the Lyndoch Road level crossing into Sunnydale Avenue, then left into Carlton Road. This initial route is initially uphill then gently undulated once it gets to the start of the Barossa Trail at Kalbeeba.
Alternatively, you can start from the Council Administration Building carpark in High Street and follow the signages and road markings—you can opt to pick up a map from the Cycle Hub Information Centre. From the Gawler Railway Station, you’d want to ride through the 12th and 8th Streets, across the footbridge to Walker Place, before crossing the main street onto Calton Road. The first kilometre of this stretch will be a steep uphill, then gently undulated for another 3km until you get to Kalbeeba.
The trail mostly follows the discontinued railway line from Kalbeeba to Sandy Creek, then runs along the Barossa Valley Way and railway to Lyndoch. While there will be no dangerous surfaces, you should be wary of the road crossings along the way. This section passes mostly through farmlands, vineyards and several Lyndoch wineries. Once you get to Lyndoch Hill, you’ll find the hotel grounds, the rose garden, picnic facilities, water stations and toilets, as well as the Lyndoch Bakery.
Lyndoch to Rowland Flat (5.6km)
From here, you’ll be departing from the rail trail and cycling on a sealed path which follows the North Para River and, eventually, the Barossa Valley Way to Tanunda. Prepare yourself for short but steep climbs and sharp switchback bends. There will also be some hazardous sections, so please proceed with caution.
The trail will pass through the grounds of the Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre and finishes at the start of the busy main street in Tanunda. There will be plenty of food, beverage and accommodation options once you get to Tanunda.
Tanunda to Nuriootpa (6km)
Once again, you’ll find yourself pedalling mostly on a railside trail. From the Tanunda Cycle Hub you’ll go through on-road cycle lanes via Murray Street. The following 3.5kms is a railside trail which starts at Kroemers Crossing Roundabout at the crossroads of Murray Street and Burings Road.
The stretch will have you passing through a long avenue of red roses which splits the cycle path and the old rail line. There will also be plenty of large, shady trees between the path and the main road. If you chance upon an early morning ride, you might be able to spot some hot air balloons.
At Nuriootpa, the Penfolds Building has been repurposed to house stores where you can get food and drinks.
Nuriootpa to Angaston (7km)
This last section of the trail follows the old rail easement and you’ll be biking on a smooth hot-mix surface. From Nuriootpa, you’d want to turn into South Tce, then left to The Crescent to reach the trail. The section will pass through more vineyards and wineries, as well as metal sculptures, on-road maps and information signages.
At Angaston, the trail ends at Washington Street. Take two lefts to find yourself on Sturt Street with plenty of shops and cafes. There will be plenty of accommodation, food and beverage options once in Angaston.
Coast to Vines Rail Trail
Start/End: Marino Rocks Railway Station to Willunga
Trail Type: Sealed
If you’re looking for a good aventure on the Fleurieu Peninsula, then, this is the rail trail for you. With sealed surfaces, gentle gradients, shady cuttings and stunning landscapes, you’re sure to have a memorable ride.
You’ll be able to enjoy views of the sea and the vineyards, as well as the ocean cliffs of Hallett Cove, the Onkaparinga River and the Southern Vales Wine Region.
The entire trail is made up of three distinct sections, in terms of their scenery and topography:
- Marino Rock to Old Reynella will have long climbs.
- Old Reynella to McLared Vale travels along the old rail reserve and opens into farmlands.
- McLaren Vale to Willunga will have the best displays of the wine region.
- McLaren Vale and Willunga Wineries
- Cellar Doors at Shiraz Trail Section
- Dining in McLaren Vale and Willunga
- Plenty of accommodation in McLaren Vale and Willunga
Marino to Old Reynella (9.4km)
The first section starts from the Marino Rocks Station and runs beside the operational railway to Hallett Cove then moves on to follow the Old Willunga Rail Line. Prepare to be amazed by the stunning ocean views. Once at the Hallett Cove Railway Station, follow the signages to get to the ramp at the southern end. From there you’ll find the overpass that runs above the railway line. The eastern side of the rail line will swing to the east; follow the uphill slope to Zwerner Drive, across the Hallett Cove Mall.
From there, the trail runs through a deep gully and waterfall creek. The Glade Crescent reserve will have playgrounds and public toilets. Once you cross Lonsdale Road, you can follow the old railway line through the Hugh Johnston Blvd Reserve, all the way to the Young Street Crossing which is the highest point of the trail.
The trail will also pass underneath the Southern Expressway, then beneath the Main South Road Bridge then merges onto the the Old South Road. Keep following Old South Road until you rejoin the old rail alignment.
Old Reynella to McLaren Vale (20km)
This wider section of the trail will pass through vegetated reserves and suburbs, conservation areas and parks. There will be major road crossings. Passing through the Hackam, the scenery becomes more rural, all the way to Noarlunga Downs. From here, the trail will cross the Onkaparinga River via a restored bridge, then another half kilometre until you reach the Railway Road.
You’ll find yourself riding next to the electric railway and will pass the new stations of Seaford Meadows. Then, the trail will climb towards the Seaford Rise housing estate and will turn east into Pedler Creek Valley. From here it will be mostly undulating hills.
Once you get to the end of the valley, the trail will join a path beside Victor Harbour Road before emerging beside the Main Road of McLaren Vale. At this point, you can find the Visitor Information Centre and stop for some coffee.
The trail, then cross Main Road into Caffrey Street then takes a left. Once you reach the Almond Train, you’ll find that it has been converted into a gift shop. This is aside from the numerous shops and bakeries in McLaren Vale.
McLaren Vale to Willunga (8km)
This section will let you experience a steady, gentle climb all the way to Willunga. There will be plenty of wild olive trees dotting the vineyards. Willunga will have a well-preserved railway station, with the township a couple of hundred metres away.
More South Australia Trails
South Australia’s massive landscape offers virtually endless adventures for the bike tourer. Here are some more shorter trail options for you, if you’re not ready for longer rides. If you wish to prepare for longer bike tours, this blog might help: Long-Distance Biking for Beginners | Electric Bikes Brisbane
Start/End: Goolwa Railway Station to Rosetta Harbour near Victor Harbour
Trail Type: Sealed
Copper Rail Trail
Start/End: Port Wakefield to Balaklava
Trail Type: Coarse Gravel and Compacted Earth
Outer Harbor Rail Trail
Start/End: Adelaide CBD to Outer Harbour - Port Adelaide
Trail Type: Sealed
Adelaide Hills Amy Gillett Rail Trail
Start/End: Oakbank to Mt Torrens
Trail Type: Sealed
Nurragi Conservation Reserve
Start/End: Milang to Sandergrove
Trail Type: Compacted Earth
Electric Bikes to Help You Push Further and Stronger
Most electric bikes can take on the sealed trails we’ve highlighted, but if you want an all-rounder which can take on more kinds of terrain we have an excellent selection of Adventure and Touring bikes to choose from.
You may also check out the EBB Owners Club for upcoming biking tours or to connect with people who share the same passion for electric bike touring.