I was going to write about our adventure in the Adelaide Hills, but since I have already written about the Birdwood Motor Museum, I’ll probably stick with Gumeracha (since there actually isn’t all that much in Birdwood other than a motor museum and a pub with an old beer truck hanging from the balcony). Actually, the way I understand it, people probably end up stopping at Gumeracha on their way to the motor museum, namely because you have to pass through Gumeracha to get there.
Gumeracha and Birdwood are actually two small towns out in the Adelaide Hill, and while I suspect that there is a bus that heads up there, though from perusing the Adelaide Metro website it doesn’t seem to be one of them (and I also checked the Stateliner Website, and they don’t seem to operate a bus service either – so I guess you are going to have to use a car), they aren’t the easiest of places to get to on public transport. When I say small towns, I actually mean that they are really small – namely a single road and the entire trip takes about two minutes. However these two towns do tend to attract the crowds since Birdwood has the Motor Museum, and Gumeracha has the giant Rocking Horse.
Anyway, one morning I grabbed my brother and then headed into the city to grab another friend before making our way out into the hills. The two towns lie to the north east of the city, so the most direct route happens to be North East Road (which is not all that surprising). Actually you can get there by simply sitting on North East Road and heading out of the city (past Klemzig, Holden Hill, Tea Tree Plaza, and then into the hills). Mind you, once you are in the hills the going doesn’t get any quicker because even though you have escaped the traffic, and the traffic lights, the road then begins to meander around the hills, and that is generally not conducive to high speeds.
After passing through Inglewood (which mostly consisted of paddocks and vinyards, though there was a pub there – I just didn’t have the time to go inside, or the inclination since I was driving and I don’t drink and drive, though surprisingly I have encountered people that will proudly proclaim that they do) we then came upon a massive reservoir known as the Chain of Ponds. This is one of the major reservoirs that provides water to the city of Adelaide, however one interesting thing that I noticed were the trees.
In December 2014 (I believe, or it could have been January – it was around that time) I was sitting at the Victoria Hotel with some friends having dinner when we saw a huge plume of smoke rising up from the hills. It was a pretty hot day (actually that is somewhat of an understatement, the temperature was in the low 40s) and for some bizarre reason somebody decided to a light a fire to burn off some rubbish (some people are simply lacking in the common sense department) which set off a massive bushfire. Anyway, the bushfire burnt for a couple of days before being brought under control, but while very few houses were destroyed, much of the bush out here was burnt to a crisp. So, here I was travelling through the Adelaide hills, a year on from that fire, and could still see some of the scars that it had left.
Anyway, I should probably embed Google Maps so you can work out where we are:
After turning off from the Chain of Ponds (which unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a photograph of, namely because there wasn’t really any place I could stop along the way) we turned off following the road towards Gumeracha (I believe it is still North East Road, though the road heads all the way to the riverside town of Mannum). The road runs along the Torrens River, which is more of a creek around here (though by definition you can jump over a creek – further downstream the Torrens is still a fairly narrow river, but it can be a little problematic jumping over it, though I have managed to do just that).
Anyway, after a short while we finally arrived at the town of Gumeracha, however we had to drive right through to the otherside where we suddenly discovered the Giant Rocking Horse. I remember people were worried that the bushfire in 2014 had destroyed the Rocking Horse, which is an Adelaide icon (if you know about it that is), however when we arrived here I discovered that it wasn’t made out of wood (which is what I believed), but actually corrugated iron. I also was half expecting there to be a toy museum here, however that also turns out not to be the case, just a giant rocking horse, a cafe, and a toy shop. There are also a couple of signposts giving you the direction, and distance, to various places around Australia – and the world.
Well, we could’ve climbed the rocking horse, or gone and had a cup of coffee, but we didn’t (anyway my brother isn’t a big fan on climbing up these things, though he has climbed the Eifel Tower, using the elevator that is – he also climbed to the top of the dome at St Peters in the Vatican, but that was only because we took the wrong turn). Instead we went inside the toy shop to have a look around.
Mind you, this isn’t your typical toy shop that you will find in your local shopping centre. No Nintendo’s, Playstations, or X-boxes here. Also don’t expect to find plastic figures or Lego here either because this is a specialist toy store – they only make good old fashioned wooden toys. In fact the workshop is onsite, though unfortunately we were able to go in there and actually see them making the toys (and I’m not sure if you can do that even when it is operational). However it is interesting looking at all these old toys, and a part of me wanders whether children still have wooden toys in their rooms. Actually, you can even buy the toys to put together later (which tends to be a little cheaper than the pre-built ones).
Well, once we have finished having a brief look around the toy shop we then went back outside, however there was also a wildlife preserve here so we decided to go and check it out. Like many of these places you can expect to find Kangaroos and Emus (though the Emus are actually kept behind a fence because they can be pretty vicious – remember they did manage to outsmart the Australian army). They also have a number of peacocks running around, and I took notice of one of the signs strictly forbidding you from taking the peacock feathers – obviously people have had a habit of doing that. If you’re lucky you might find some lying around on the ground, however if you want to take them home you do have to pay for them.
We also purchased a small bag of feed for the animals, but it turned out to be a little problematic because half the animals weren’t interested in eating (with the exception of the emu, and there was no way I was going to put my hand in front of that emu). It probably had something to do with all the children running around here feeding the animals to the point that the animals were pretty full (and a lot of them seemed to prefer to sit in the shade as well).
So, we the left the sanctuary and headed back into the town, if only to have a drink at the pub. To be honest the pub wasn’t all that flash, and there wasn’t all that much in the town as well – the only coffee shop happened to be closed which was a shame. We did end up having a beer, and taking all of ten minutes to look around then town, we then headed off towards Birdwood to check out the motor museum.
As I mentioned, I have already written a post on Birdwood (and other than the Motor Museum, and the pub, there isn’t all that much else there). However as we were driving along the road and heading in that direction I came across an old bridge, and a marker. Apparently the marker was the location of an old pub which had long been destroyed, which I have to say is a shame because it would have been nice to have had a drink there.
Actually, I did end up taking a few photographs of Birdwood that didn’t involve either the pub or the motor museum. Once again, aside from the pub and the Motor Museum there wasn’t all that much up here that would really hold my attention. Mind you, I suspect that the main reason people come up here is for the Motor Museum, and only go to the pub as an afterthought – though it might be the other way around in the case of some people.
So, after spending an afternoon at the Motor Museum we then headed back to Adelaide, but this time we took a different route. Instead of going straight ahead at the cross roads at Chain of Ponds (there is supposed to be a town there but I couldn’t find anything) we instead turned left and headed the other way around the reservoir. The reason for this was because I wanted to visit the Cuddlee Creek Hotel. Actually Cuddlee Creek is a part of my childhood because I remember going to a really cool campsite there when I was in cubs. I remember it because there were these stairs heading up the side of a hill. I never got around to climbing those stairs however.
Well, we arrived at another intersection and I ended up taking the wrong turn, namely because Cudlee Creek actually has two townships (which is a little odd). After discovering that the town that I wanted was the other way we turned around and headed back, and had a beer at the pub. The pub itself was quite nice, and was situated next to the Torrens River. We ended up sitting out the front on the road side, before heading off back to Adelaide.
This route took us down Gorge Road, named as such because it happens to head through a gorge through which the River Torrens flows. Before you hit the Gorge however you pass another of the Reservoirs, the Kangaroo Creek Reservoir (as I believe it is call). There are a couple of spots where you can take some photos of the reservoir before you then head down the side of the cliff and into the gorge.
Gorge Road is actually a favourite of a lot of motorcyclists because it is quite windy and very scenic. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take a video of the route, but I’ll probably come down here again another time. One thing I did see on my travel down here was this:
I think there are a lot of theories as to what lies behind this gate, but I generally go with Occam’s Razor – it probably has something to do with Adelaide’s water supply.
The Toy Factory – Gumeracha by David Alfred Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me.