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Yurrebilla Trail, Adelaide

Posted by 42junkie , 23 November 2016 · 4,522 views

I've wanted to do the Yurrebilla Trail Race in the Adelaide Hills for a long time but somehow I have never been able to make it to this event. So finally this year I realised that the only way I was going to get to do this thing would be if I went and ran it self-supported all on my own. I had a look at logistics and decided that it wouldn't be too hard to run the complete 54 kilometre trail over a two day period, preferable to trying to run it all in one day if I went alone as there is no water available directly on the route so I would have to carry an awful lot. Also, if I needed to bail out there would be no options to abort my run and get public transport after I crossed Greenhill Road at the 25 kilometre point, so it seemed best to break the run at this point. I had to go on weekdays because I would be using public transport to get to and from the trail each day and the buses I needed to use don't run at the weekend. So in mid November I headed on over.

I based myself in central Adelaide, and on the first morning headed out to Belair on the train. The trail starts right by the station and the first few kilometres are in the Belair conservation park. There's a little lake and a climb to a waterfall. I couldn't believe it, but having come from Melbourne where the weather was unseasonably cool for November I was in Adelaide on a day forecast to be 34 degrees. It was getting hot very quickly and by the time I had ten kilometres under my belt I was already feeling the effects of the heat. I just felt it was going to be a long day.

The trail emerged from the park and followed quiet roads for a while, followed alongside a creek, passed a caravan park and then I found myself in suburban Adelaide and realised I had gone the wrong way. I went wrong three times on this first day but luckily each time I soon realised I had made a mistake and there were people around whom I could ask for directions. Most of the time I followed the little Yurrebilla Trail signs but in some places there weren't any signs or they had fallen down so couldn't be seen.

After a couple of hours I had the first of several wonderful views over Adelaide and ran some lovely singletrack. I also crossed a paddock where poor hot cows were all resting (actually they were resting right on the trail but I'm not sure this was intentional). I noticed one beast sitting all on its own in another part of the paddock and I suddenly panicked that this one might be a bull but I reasoned  it was far too hot for bulls to try any running and it was certainly too hot for me to run away from a bull. I emerged onto Mount Barker Road where a constant stream of cyclists were flying downhill. They would have had a nice breeze!

Then I turned into Cleland conservation park. The Yurrebilla race took a detour at this point this year because of flooding but everything was bone dry by the time I got here. The park trails were quite busy with people hiking to and from Mount Lofty. I was walking most of the time here and wishing I had brought a lot more water. After more great views and a very pleasant time in the forest once I turned off the main Mount Lofty trail, I enjoyed the descent to Greenhill Road and what I thought was the end of my day's running.

I reached Greenhill Road and, conveniently, a bus stop right there at the junction. However it wasn't quite 2pm and the next bus was due at 4.38! I had no water and no food and could not imagine sitting in the bus shelter for over two hours so I decided to start heading down the road towards Adelaide in the hope of finding a shop on the way down. This would have been a fabulous road to run down if 1. there had been a shoulder and 2. it wasn't so incredibly exposed to the fierce sun. As it was I had to take many walking breaks and sit down for a rest periodically. I made it down to Burnside where I finally found somewhere selling drinks  - the first shop I saw was a bottle shop and I was quite resigned to having a beer but then I noticed a fish and chip shop and I staggered inside. I got the bus back to Adelaide from Burnside and wondered if I could do more of the same tomorrow.

The next day was a fair bit cooler fortunately. I got the bus back to Greenhill Road and resumed my run. Today's running was more scenic with the highlight being the section across Morialta conservation park. Before reaching the park there were more forest trails and a big hill, and as I ran into Norton Summit the children at the primary school were having a fun run through town. Here I found the only water bubbler on the entire trail route.

Morialta was wonderful with its various waterfalls and long gradual undulations through the gorge. Some of the best South Australian scenery I've experienced - the sheer cliffs, wooded ravines, clear creeks and wildflowers. I even saw a few kangaroos. I was really having a good time and I loved the descent past Fox Dam but then I could hear very loud car sounds and I was surprised to have the serenity of the bush interrupted in this way. As I came down to Montacute Road I could see there was a car race in progress. I had to share a kilometre of Montacute Road with these guys but I got lucky because it seemed the race was briefly halted for some reason (not because of me, I hope).

I ran right past the site of the creek crossing into Quarry Track and on up to Black Hill because the crossing has been washed away, but I was able to ask directions from a car race spectator and found it was easy to cross the creek on stepping stones. The climb up Black Hill was steep, as I had anticipated, especially near the summit, but the view over Adelaide was again superb. The final part of the trail into Ambers Gully was maybe the prettiest part of the whole route, a gentle descent on a lightly forested  and grassy hillside.

Getting the bus back into Adelaide from Gorge Road was a piece of cake compared to my ordeal yesterday, a simple matter of jogging a kilometre along the Torrens trail, and the bus came within five minutes. I actually fell asleep on the ride into the city.

Well that's doing it the hard way Julia, but I'm glad you were able to complete it. I hope next year's event is back to the usual course and that you can make it here for that.

My little photo was taken by Michael Slagter in the 2015 event on the Morialta section just after the track leaves the downhill after Second Falls I think it is and links to another track which goes to the lookout.
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