Thru Hiking the Lavender Federation Trail – Sept 2018 – Page 18

28 September Monarto Oval to Murray Bridge 18 km

The overnight rain didn’t worry us – again we were safely under cover and able to wrap up dry tents. We shoulder our packs again, this time with almost no food left in them and feeling ridiculously light, and head off early.

We were soon walking along the western boundary of the Monarto Zoo, heading down to the Princes Highway. Graham had mentioned that this is the largest zoo in the world and that they had planted millions of trees and bushes, which became evident as we walked around the perimeter of the zoo for the next 5-6 km. The LFT follows a mountain bike trail along the southern boundary of the zoo. Some of this is hard going with thick patches of sand and small and frequent undulations, perfect for bike riding but hard going with a pack.

Gazing into the zoo we see a variety of different animals which you aren’t meant to see on a bushwalk in Australia – giraffe, bison, antelope and wild horses, maybe the Przewalski Horse? Its great to see them with extensive fields to forage in. The forested zoo ended and we walked beside sheep paddocks again. The trail now shadows the Adelaide to Melbourne train line for most of the way into Murray Bridge. We walk through the Kinchina Conservation Park, another revegetation project through small gorges and over rocky ramparts. We follow the course of Rocky Gully Creek which, on a series of stepping stones takes us under the railway.

The trail climbs out of the creek bed to pass next to Mobilong Prison where the unfortunate residents are walking laps of the prison oval as we are on the last lap of our long walk. The Overland train passes us with a blow of the horn and many waves from the passengers. The trail follows the rail line past market gardens and industrial sheds before entering the suburbs at Cypress Terrace.

A newly opened section of the LFT takes walkers along an extended walk through Mobilong Swamp where a wetland connected to the Murray River has provided a perfect habitat for birds, amphibians and reptiles. The 1.5km walk through the swamp took us down to the bank of the Murray River, then under the rail and road bridges and on to the wharf area of this historic old river port.

There was much to see there but it would have to wait – we were on a mission and there was a weather change approaching. The trailhead of the LFT is in Sturt Reserve and we paused to take photos and shake hands. Under gathering storm clouds, we headed up to find the essentials, a bakery, hotel and laundry.

As with most long trails, the sum of the LFT is much more than the addition of all of its parts. Our journey through country SA was over but the memories remain of sweeping views, pretty villages and friendly and hospitable locals.

Ed: Wow! an epic story for the Lavender Federation Trail, well done to Alan, Roger and the author of this story Ross Kendall whom we say a special thank you for taking the time to write it and share it with us.