Kidman Trail The Curate's Egg

Let me preface this by saying that there are some superb sections of road on the Kidman. The part between Macclesfield (Macca) and Echunga is superb. Do not miss this bit. Quarry Rd and Red Gum Rd are just ace.

And there are other great bits - some lovely unmade dirt in Roehr Rd north of Nuri. I have not ridden the whole of the Kidman, but, but let's be honest here, I can't really see myself making the effort to finish it.

The main thing putting me off is logistics - organising end point drop-offs and pickups is too hard, and the accommodation options along the way are not really my cup of tea.

It could be the horse thing I guess. The Kidman is billed as a horse/cycle/walking trail, and I think it's mainly set up for horses. Horses seem to need these big float contraptions to carry them round, and this seems to go along with 4WDs and flat areas for parking and all that sort of stuff. Visit Kuitpo forest on a Sunday and it's horse central.

Thing is - most of the good bits north of Adelaide are also on the Mawson, so you might as well just ride that, and there are probably nicer roads to the east as well, where the Mawson does not run.

The first (or last) bit of the Kidman is from Kapunda to Nuri - and that follows the Mawson. It’s not a great section (compared to the bit between Kapunda and Riverton, which is ace)

As I said before, Roehr Rd north of Nuri is really nice - but that’s where I double flatted and my pump broke, so took a shortcut back to Tanunda rather than loop round on the Kidman to Pewsey Vale Peak. In any case, the Mawson’s climb on dirt up Trial Hill Rd is really nice, with a great view from the Steingarten vineyard.

Again - the next bit along Crayton Park Rd and High Eden Rd are really good, but they are also Mawson.

Then you come to Mt Crawford. I don’t like pine plantations. Maybe it was too many cadet bivouacs up there at school, but to me it's a waste land.

After that the Kidman and Mawson part ways, never to reunite. And to me, it’s also the point at which my interest waned. I found it hard to get good stopover points this close to Adelaide. Further from town it’s easy to find a caravan park, campground or cheap country pub to stay in. In the areas round Tungkillo and Mt Barker the pubs don’t do accomodation, and you’re restricted to full-on camping or an expensive B&B or motel.

I really should get out and ride the sections I missed before writing it off, but in offering an opinion, I'm left with the feeling that there are some great bits of road to be ridden there, but as a whole the thing does not quite hang together for a cyclist.

There are a couple of sections after Dawsley that can't be ridden. There's a lovely creek crossing (Mt Barker Creek, full of water on the day I was there), and pushing a bike through that is a pleasure, but after that there are a couple of stretches that had become overgrown with prickle bushes, and which were almost impassable. (On Glen Brae Rd after Daniel Rd I think) Certainly not fun, with bikes dragged and legs full of itchy prickles.

This caused me to bail - and rejoin the Kidman after Macclesfield toward Echunga. This section really is stunning; It didn’t hurt that I had a perfect day for it. Remember Quarry Rd and Redgum Rd. Make sure you work those in to some kind of ride. As a bonus, the roads around the old Jupiter Creek Gold diggings near Echunga are nice too.

Kuitpo forest? Hmm - more pine plantation. Good for horses, and no cars, but it just doesn’t do it for me. After that Adam Gully and Thomas Hill Rd are nice, But really it’s just a dirt trickle into Willunga.

Bonus is if you want to get back to town you can rail-trail it to Seaford and get the train.

So that’s it. Take-home message; some lovely - and I mean really lovely dirt roads that we’re lucky to have and that any self-respecting dirt Adelaidean should aim to ride - but, the whole thing? Maybe more trouble than is warranted.

Created By
David Hume
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