The Willunga Basin Trail, a 130-kilometre volunteer-built bush walking trail, is now open for the community to enjoy.
The three-year building project was officially completed earlier this month by volunteer-based Willunga Basin Trail Inc, an incorporated body that partnered with City of Onkaparinga to create a sustainable and world-class walking trail over varied terrain that showcases the Willunga Basin.
The new trail is a low-impact trail that winds its way around and across the Willunga Basin—which is bounded by the Southern Mount Lofty Ranges to the east and south, the Onkaparinga River to the north, and the Gulf St Vincent to the west.
The trail showcases a diverse landscape of bushland, forests, vineyards, almond groves, parks and beaches and covers varied terrain. It consists of 11 sections of varying length and difficulty. These sections are graded as either moderate hike (Grade 3) or hard hike (Grade 4). Sections can be walked in two to 5.5 hours and the whole trail can be walked in five to six days.
Except for a few kilometres, the trail uses publicly owned land. State and council land such as national/recreation parks, existing trails/shared-paths (i.e. Coast to Vines Trail and Coast Park), road verges and unmade road reserves provide walking links throughout the region.
It traverses the townships of McLaren Vale, McLaren Flat, Kangarilla, and Willunga as well as the coastal suburbs of Aldinga, Port Willunga, Maslin Beach and Moana. There are several camping parks along the trail and plenty of overnight accommodation, some very close to the trail, though you must book your own accommodation.
Like the Heysen Trail, the Willunga Basin Trail uses trail markers to guide users along the natural ground surface.
Implementation was supported by the City of Onkaparinga as well as a major grant from the state government’s Office of Recreation, Sport and Racing, and sponsorship from Bendigo Bank, which enabled teams of volunteers to commence working three half-day work sessions per week from 2019.
Willunga Basin Trail Inc also received funds from the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board to develop and implement an ongoing maintenance program.
Chris Davies and Zara Lupton, the project leaders from start to finish, attracted and encouraged enthusiastic volunteers with a wide range of skills and expertise, to undertake training and join the regular work sessions.
“Every volunteer brought their own unique set of skills and expertise to the range of jobs required, and teams have worked cooperatively together—solving problems, sharing expertise and creating new ways to construct the trail in the bush,” said Chris.
“Experienced bush walkers provided guidance about the level of difficulty of the track and the safety of the tread,” Zara said.
“Bush care volunteers, environmentalists and gardeners also joined the group, providing expert advice on how to protect and restore the natural environment.”
“It has been a wonderful learning experience for everyone involved as the more experienced and professional volunteers designed and guided us through the installation of posts, stiles and some very unique creek crossings,” added volunteer, Christine James.
“There’s great enthusiasm from the volunteers to continue to maintain and develop the trail for many years to come,” said volunteers, Ian and Lynne Norman.
“Keeping the track clear, ensuring damage is repaired and biodiversity protection for local vegetation are priorities for the future.”
Head to the Willunga Basin Trail website for more information and to download trail section maps.
This article was originally posted on the Onkaparinga Now website. Click here for the original post.