This map covers what is possibly Australia’s best hunting ground for motorcyclists. The roads through the Adelaide Hills provide wonderful opportunities to hone your cornering skills, as well as taking you to terrific locations. Colin Whelan has been riding these roads for quite a while, and has chosen the best of the best for you as well as taking the photos. He also pointed out that you can always rent a bike and sample these roads if you happen to be in Adelaide on business or without your own bike for any reason. It’s only for a couple of days!
ALONG THE WAY: PINK RIDE
In 1917 a government act changed the Germanic names of 69 South Australian towns (you may have heard, there was a war going on), and this place became Ambleside. In 1935 this Act was repealed just in time for another round of unpleasantness but this town was one of the few which returned to its original name and has been proudly Germanic ever since. It’s now a State Heritage Area and if you like bustle, commercialized faux oom-pah-pah kitsch then you’ll adore this biggest of the Hills townships. On a lovely Sunday arvo there’s any number of places where you can wait to be served, wait for a seat, wait for you meal and if you’re wearing leathers, you’ll feel at home amongst the lederhosen! My highlight of Hahndorf is Hans Heysen Gallery to the north of the town… head toward Mt Barker and take a right on the well sign posted Ambleside Rd.
A very quaint and enjoyable place to stop. The Aldgate Pump Hotel is right on the main intersection which can make the beer garden at the front rather noisy but it catches the afternoon sun and there are a million worse places to spend a recoop hour or so. Up Mt Barker Road is Aldgate Village with some quality smaller eateries and opposite them, behind the car park is tranquil park with plentiful benches to get away from the madness for a while.
For most first-time visitors the reason for coming here is the National Motor Museum and it’s well worth a visit. Twelve bucks will give you a good few hours of enjoyment and the café is way better than average. (Remember to quiz them on why a museum housing so many bikes doesn’t have designated motorcycle parking.) But if you’re visiting the Hills for a few days, try to allocate Birdwood a day other than Sunday or Monday as the town’s best attraction is closed on these days. Up on main street you’ll find Bill’s Bits and Bikes store which is just something else. Run by speedway sidecar maniac Mark Mitchell this is a MUST on the visit list. Truly unique, completely wonderful and wholly memorable, and run by a bloke who must be in the top ten nice guys list.
Nothing here but the pub, but what a pub! At the top of the old road, this is a mecca for all day trippers from Adelaide and on weekends it’s jam packed. But with good reason. It has a great mix of a top outdoor bar coupled with a superior restaurant. Worth a stop even for a water! It’s open from ten each day but from nine on the weekends.
One of my favourite towns in the Hills. Much more relaxed than Hahndorf, the whole town has a friendly feel and if you’re overnighting then the art deco picture theatre is a great nostalgic experience. The hub for riders is the Amberlight Café run by Jo and Greg. A very friendly joint with good tucker and I can vouch for their milkshakes. There’s also The Rising Sun Hotel with its vine covered verandah.
ALONG THE WAY: BLUE RIDE
Along the Cudlee Creek road are two standalone cafes which I can’t separate. Both are very rider friendly, have heaps of parking and serve honest locally made food. Try ‘em both!
The renovations at Inglewood Hotel are complete and they have fully respected the historic building whilst adding a fantastic balcony at the back. The balcony is shared between the bar and the restaurant and so you can enjoy the view without smokers at adjacent tables spoiling it for you. And when you are there, try to get the true story about the Hills Hoist in the middle of the field on the other side of the creek.
Home of the beautiful Oakbank Races and Oakbank House. The course seems open most of the time and is worth checking out for its relaxed majesty but avoid early mornings with their heaving equine traffic.
The proximity of the Mount Lofty Ranges to the state capital makes the fine riding of the Adelaide Hills unique in Australia. No other capital can boast such great roads within 7km of the CBD, but it’s not just this accessibility that makes these hills so attractive, it’s also the sheer choice of roads and routes.
Compiling a map of good routes here is difficult only in the decision of what to leave out. I’ve done my best but I can be sure of three things: Firstly anyone trying to keep to either of the loops I mapped will get lost, secondly the road you ride instead will be equally as enjoyable and thirdly anyone lucky enough to ride these Hills regularly will argue that I’ve left out some of the best routes.
Ah! Decisions, decisions! I’ve chosen a couple of 100km rides each of which can be broken into shorter loops and up-and downs. The first stays pretty much on the tighter twists of the Hills, beginning at Magill just at the east of Adelaide and ending at Bridgewater. The second starts closer to north Adelaide, has an intense start then opens out on the east of the hills before returning to end at Hahndorf.
ROUTE DESCRIPTION (BLUE)
The obvious places to meet are the BP servo on the corner of Portrush Rd and Magill or at Macca’s just a bit further up on the left.
As you head east on Magill Rd, you’ll have your first choice: A bit after the lights at Penfold you can take the left fork around the substation and ride up Norton Summit Road, or keep to the right on the Old road. Both are good but I find less traffic and more overtaking places on the new road. Whichever way you get to the top, take the right for Lobethal. Take care of the crossing at Ashton where you’ll continue straight ahead.
Enjoy this wonderful riding all the way to Lobe where a break at the Amberlight Café on your left is always a good decision except in Tuesdays when it’s closed. Head north through the town then left on Pioneer St to Cudlee Creek where you turn left onto the famed Gorge Rd. Follow past the Reservoir and as the Upper Torrens joins on your right, keep your eye out for Corkscrew Rd on your left. Take a break at the corner to allow time for anything ahead to clear and give yourself a clear road! Squirt up this classic hill then left onto Montacute Rd and follow all the way back to the Ashton intersection.
This time cross over heading south west in the direction of Mount Lofty and take a break at the lookout if you wish. Cross over the Freeway at Crafers and continue south on Upper Sturt Rd. If you don’t want to go into Belair then take a left Sturt Valley Rd and wait a couple of paragraphs at the T intersection. Otherwise continue straight with the National Park on your right but then continue straight onto Hawthordene as Upper Sturt bears right. Keep with this as it arcs south and you’ll arrive at Main Rd.
Turn left onto Main Rd and then take the 2nd exit at the roundabout onto Ackland Hill Rd which becomes Ironbark Rd. At Ironbark bear right with the road. (If you continue straight ahead onto Pole Rd, just enjoy the fabulous trip back up to Upper Stuart Rd, then turn right and right again soon after onto Sturt Valley Rd and we’ll all meet up at the junction of Sturt Valley and Ironbark!)
More choices at Mt Lofty but I prefer to head south on Longwood til the Mylor turn then left and follow Strathalbyn Rd back up to Aldgate. Turn right at the roundabout at the pub and it’s a short squirt up to Bridgewater and time for a break.
ROUTE DESCRIPTION (PINK)
Best meeting point is the BP at the corner of Lower North East Rd and Ann St in Campbelltown. Take the right fork for Gorge Rd and after just 5km you’ll be erasing your chicken strips on a good surface of twists and curves. After about 9km from start you see the reservoir on your right and at 13km take the left onto Torrens Hill Rd/Paracombe and follow this down the mountain til you clear the NP and turn right at Hancock Rd. Head north for about 2km then turn right on North East Rd and shoot back up the hill.
Continue through Inglewood and follow the signs for Birdwood. The road straightens a bit (you’ll be glad of the respite) as you pass the giant rocking horse and then continue east through Birdwood until you take the right in direction of Mannum/Murray Bridge. A bit over 5km take the right for Mt Torrens and once through Mt Torrens take the left fork for Woodside/Hahndorf. Continue on through Oakbank and then at Balhannah take a left for Littlehampton where you turn west and follow Mt Barker Rd to Hahndorf.