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Brief Encounter

the route
the route

The Encounter Bikeway provides a couple of hours of easygoing undulations for riders to meander while taking in the beautiful views of the Fleurieu Peninsula coastline. Part on-road and part shared path, the route runs between the historic river port of Goolwa and the popular holiday destination of Victor Harbor, approximately an hour's drive south of Adelaide. Riders can travel in either direction or, if a longer jaunt is desired, it can be negotiated as a round trip of just over 60 kilometres.

It is generally a quiet ride, traffic-wise, although the populations of the pretty coastal towns increase significantly in the warmer months, due to the influx of eager holiday makers.

Signage is pretty good along the way, but first-timers would be well advised to pick up a brochure/route map from the Visitor Information Centre in Goolwa before departing. The brochures are also available in Victor Harbor.

The shared path begins at the boat ramp at Laffin Point, which is situated just to the west of Goolwa. The bikeway follows the banks of the Lower Murray, passing under the Hindmarsh Island bridge before heading inland and navigating the suburban streets that offer a mix of residential housing and holiday homes.

Once out of Goolwa, riders are immediately treated to the short, but extremely interesting, passage through the Tokuremoar Reserve. The path winds its way through the natural vegetation, and at one point traverses a slightly elevated boardwalk to ensure that the bikes do no damage to the wetland ecosystem.

Leaving the natural splendor of the reserve behind, riders join the beautiful beachfront of Middleton and its environs via the exotically named Waikiki Way. The properties here are, in the main, impressive second homes of city folk who like to get away in style. The Middleton swell is popular with South Australia’s surfing community, and it would be a rare occasion indeed that a surfer could not be spotted somewhere along this long, straight stretch.

Basham Beach Conservation Park is the site of a long-term community revegetation project, where cleared land has been repopulated with local native plants. The site has been developed as a reserve for natural and cultural heritage through the efforts of members of the indigenous community and local schoolchildren. The ride through the park is where the bikeway joins and runs alongside the Cockle Train rail route and, if the timing is right, riders might get to see the train as it makes its regular journey between the two towns that bookend the bikeway.

Basham Beach itself is a whale watcher's paradise in the winter, as it is a popular calving site for the Southern Right Whale.

The pretty town of Port Elliot is the next feature of the journey, and this erstwhile port is an excellent place to have a break if there’s any refueling required. The views over Horseshoe Bay are magnificent.

The path continues alongside the train line, out of Port Elliot, past Boomer Beach and follows the coast as the bikeway closes in on Victor Harbor. The bikeway keeps riders out of the middle of this bustling town so it is important that signs are spotted and observed. The Esplanade is a much more preferable, and safer, option than negotiating the main roads.

Some riders may wish to stop in Victor Harbor but, for those that want a little more, the bikeway continues along the coast until it reaches The Bluff at Rosetta Head. Along the way the path passes over the Inman River Estuary, where riders will be treated to the sights of the abundant native birdlife.

Arrival at The Bluff marks the end of the Encounter Bikeway. There's not much to do apart from enjoy the scenery here and perhaps take a photo, so before long it will be time to return to wherever it is that you've left the car.

Overall, this ride is a very gentle meander. The focus is on enjoying the fresh air and the impressive views, not to mention the legendary Port Elliot Bakery. It is quite suitable for most riders to attempt. It’s relatively flat, so it is only the weather conditions on the day chosen to ride that are likely to add any extra challenge.

rail trail
rail trail

© Copyright David Robinson, 2011

Not to be reproduced without the permission of the author