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In this series:

The Story of Clare's Riesling Trail

Chapter 1: Clare gets a Railway

Chapter 2: Clare to Spalding Line

Chapter 3: Clare Railway Station saga

Chapter 4. Clare Railway declines

Chapter 5: Riesling Trail Planning & Building

Chapter 6: The Riesling Trail now

The Riesling Trail Story

  Chapter 6. The Riesling Trail Now


The Riesling Trail provides health, social and economic benefits to the Clare Valley, and is an exceptional South Australian tourism attraction.

"The Riesling Trail is a living interpretive link to the
many historic areas of our region." - Graham Mill 6/6/2001

Clare Valley vinyard.jpg
Logo Riesling Trail.jpg
Timeline Highlights:

October 1992

  • 'Creative Think Day' by Clare Winemakers' Association

  • Evan Hiscock (Petaluma Wines) contacts Terry Lavender (Dept. Sport and Recreation)

  • Tony Brady (Wendouree Cellars) enlists architect Michael Towa, to show an artist's impression of unsuitable Warenda Rd. urban infill

  • and then to re-use the dis-used railway corridor to create a tourist trail

  • Published by the Adelaide Review October '92 as "The Vision Splendid" by Duncan Miller

December 1992

  • "The Riesling Trail" becomes a registered Business Name of the Clare Valley Winemakers (Inc)

February 1993​

  • John Nowland and Evan Hiscock design the Riesling Trail logo.

Mid 1993

  • Announcement of the conversion of the Auburn to Clare dis-used railway into a walking/cycling/riding trail.

  • Clare Quarry P/L removes ballast to construct a trial section of half-kilometre of rail line.

  • Tony Brady widely campaigns for the development of the 'Riesling Trail'

October 1993

  • Recreation and Sport Minister Greg Crafter announces the new walking trail with a grant of $10,000.

  • Riesling Trail project manager Terry Lavender says the walk will weave through the heart of the the wine-growing region and pass 22 wineries.


  • Trail construction from 1997 to late 1998

    • First section from Sevenhill to Clare commenced April 1997​

    • Second section from Penwortham to Watervale

    • Final section from Watervale to Auburn completed August 1998

  • Issues and Concerns (March '98):​

    • Auburn ​Station connection

    • Watering of Trees and weed removal

    • Dogs not kept on leash at all times

    • Several type of Signs needed

    • Trail pamphlet preparation 

    • Upgrading of Car Parks by the Trail

November 7, 1998

  • Official Launch of the Riesling Trail


  • A Landscape Masterplan is produced which coordinates funding, referencing and establishing committee guidance.

February 2000

  • "The Riesling Trail" becomes a Registered Trademark (TM)

Timeline Highlights
Rieseling Trail Management Committee 4-11-1999_edited.jpg
Trailblazing Tourist Attraction
Riesling Trail components.png
Riesling Trail Management Committee
Riesling Trail Management Committee formed

From inception through to 1999, the Riesling Trail was managed by the 'Riesling Trail Steering Committee'.

  • On the 4th May 1999, a broadly based 'Riesling Trail Management Committee' was formed and

  • in December 1999 their issues of concern were outlined by chairman Graham Mill as 

    • The design of Riesling Trail signage

    • Protection of the name 'The Riesling Trail'​

    • Development of Loop Trails to the Riesling Trail

    • The use of an external consultancy to develop planning outcomes

    • Use of the Rotary Club's offer of $3,000 to develop interpretive signage​

    • Community membership structure

    • Development of a Strategic Plan for the Riesling Trail

    • The level of communication with the Office for Recreation and Sport​


  • The first Riesling Trail Committee was formed, consisting of:

    • Patricia Jacka​ (mayor)

    • Graham Mill (chairman)

    • Carita Brown

    • Leith Hughes (Dept. Recreation and Sport)

    • Ted Nettleton

    • Rosemary Goode

    • Bev Hannaford

    • Richard Rowe

    • Julie Cowperthwaite (secretary)

Slow Progress

Slow Progress...

Martindale Hall / Mintaro Heritage Trail

  • Graham Mill supports the Heritage S.A. application for another Clare Valley tourist trail, by Alison Radford.

  • However, nothing further is discussed. 

January 2000 - Railway Heritage signposts

  • Dr. John Wilson (The Wilson Vineyard) suggests his proposed various Railway Heritage signs along the Riesling Trail (documented below),

  • These Railway Heritage signs were not proceeded with.

February 2000:

  • The Deputy Premier announces a budget allocation of $330,000 to extend the Riesling Trail to the township of Auburn via an underpass of the Horrocks Highway near Auburn.

March 2000

  • The first Riesling Trail Strategic Plan produced by Simon Gierke and John Squires, with input from interested bodies.

September 2000:

  • Graham Mill supports the Heritage S.A. application for another Clare Valley tourist trail to Martindale Hall, by Alison Radford.

  • However, nothing further is discussed about it, and suitable unused trails no longer apparently exist. 

Frustration with lack of Progress:

Graham Mill reports to the 2001 AGM of the Riesling Trail (TM) that he has frustration with the lack of progress with: 

  • Completion of the Riesling Trail link to the restored Auburn Railway Station

  • Finalisation of an agreement with the Minister for Recreation and Sport for significant local management of the Trail

  • Lack of progress of work on Signage (directional and interpretative)

  • Low membership of the Friends of the Riesling Trail group

Partnership Agreement signed:
  • In July 2002 an agreement for funding of $87,500 is signed for the year to June 2003.

  • Of this, $57,500 is committed to these Development Projects:

    • Interpretive Signs​

    • Directional Signs

    • Trail Head Signs

    • Completion of Auburn Connection

    • Sevenhill Access Trail (now a Loop Trail)

    • Fr. Rogalski (Polish Hill) and Spring Gully Loop Trails

  • By November 2002 Chairman Graham Mill reports:

"What a Change - Finally a solid working relationship has been established with the Office for Recreation and Sport".​

Partnership Agreement
Frustrating lack of Progress
Trail Signage proposals
Trail Signage proposals
The Auburn Connection


The Auburn Traders lobbied Government official Leith Hughes in July 1998, regarding the connection to the town, considering the Horrocks Highway had a speed limit of 110 kph.

They agreed their should be an underpass of the Highway.


  • A tunnel (underpass) of the Horrocks Hwy (aka Main North Road)

  • a bridge over the Wakefield River

  • a new trail connecting Main North Road and the Auburn Railway Station


Initial costing for the project totalled $440,000, made up of

  • $300,000 - Construction of underpass tunnel

  • $125,000 - Construction of Wakefield River bridge

  •   $15,000 - Resurfacing 2km of trail to Auburn Station

The Consulting engineer to the Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing in 2001 estimated the costs for the Auburn crossing of the Riesling Trail and the Horrocks Highway to be $147,000  without an underpass:

  • $3000 - Preliminaries

  • $28,000 - Path Improvements

  • $26,000 - Road widening and Traffic Island Installation

  • $65,000 - (Signalised) Slow Point

  • $15,000 - Bicycle Lanes and Footpath construction

  • $10,000 - King Street Intersection

Auburn Connection
Reisling Trail Certificate of Incorporation 17 Dec 2001.png
Incorporation: The Riesling Trail Inc.

The Riesling Trail was incorporated into the State of South Australia on 20 July 2000. Riesling Trail Inc.®  is a community body which has the objectives of

  • developing and promoting the Trail, and

  • facilitating the management at a local level.

'We are proud to share the ‘sense of place’ the Trail promotes with the local community and visitors alike.'​

Old Government of 2001 dithers

The Riesling Trail Committee waits for Government action in 2001

  • A cheque for $10,000 is received

  • A later discussion supports $30,000 for maintenance, $20,000 for signage

  • By April the Dept of Sport and Recreation was working to develop a Memo of Understanding between the Department and the local committee.

Government dithers (2001)
Trail Maintenance

Examples of Tasks identified in February 2002

  • Contouring and landscaping, surface repair

  • Car Park tidy-up and weeding

  • Spoon drains needed at Clare Valley Cabins to stop gravel spilling onto the Trail surface

  • Better definition for Stanley Street Access (Clare, lawyers involved)

  • Railway sleepers over Maynard Road rough and too high

  • Drains under Wendouree Road needed, Trail surface there too rough

  • Quarry Road bridge is higher than the Trail surface

  • Sevenhill Cellars has grape marc (waste) which needs removal

  • Penwortham cutting has a severe blackberry ramble problem

  • Access points over Pawleski Road and Morrison's Road, too rough

  • Also rough surface at Schobers Road and at Leasingham

  • Effective Trail crossings a priority

  • Need more and bigger stop signs, better physical barriers

  • Zebra crossings

Maintenance work was to be undertaken from Friday May 3, 2002.​


Mistletoe infestations were observed along the Riesling Trail:

  • Clare - Sevenhill :193 trees bearing misteltoe infestion

  • Sevenhill to Watervale : 128 trees ...

  • Watervale to Leasingham : 2 trees...

  • Leasingham to Auburn : 28 trees...


A bridge replacement over the Wakefield River will be funded solely by local volunteer effort, since the government is no longer forthcoming. 

Trail Maintenance

Early Trail User Statistics

  • last 6 months of 2003 = 4,780

  • 2004 = 12,097 
    (total 16,877)

Riesling Trail Network Management Plan
  • Adopted in October 2003, this sets out the overall Business Plan for the Riesling Trail.

Re-Launch of the Riesling Trail Organisation
  • Helene M. plans a grand meeting at Annie's Lane set up for 14 November 2003 to get the Trail supporters back 'on track'.

Ownership and Title

In August 2004, the development of the Riesling Trail was described as a joint project between

  • the Office for Recreation and Sport;

  • Department of Transport, Urban Planning and Arts (Transport SA);

  • Clare Valley Winemakers Inc. and

  • the Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council. 


The Crown land on which the Riesling Trail is based had been granted to the Office for Recreation and Sport, to be under their care and control. 

Management of the Riesling Trail was carried out by the Office for Recreation and Sport in partnership with the Riesling Trail Management Committee.

Early Trail User Statistics
Re-launch of Trail organisation


"Clare needs an image of
a united force"

"Clare has a long way to go towards

  • making the area look like a united force to the outside world

  • and towards embracing food in combination with wine,

  • with celebration and fun."

(Sevenhill Cellars

Ownership and Title
Heritage Signage Interpretation

"From pioneering pastoralists and Jesuit priests to master winemakers, the Clare Valley holds a fascinating history waiting for the inquisitive traveller to uncover at historic sites throughout our region".

  • Uncover historic individual properties such as Bungaree Station or Martindale Hall, or you might find yourself exploring entire towns filled with history, like Burra or Mintaro.
    ​Each of these towns has their own heritage tour to help guide you through.

  • below are Heritage Listings for all points on the Riesling Trail and the three Loops under consideration.

Heritage Signage
Riesling Interpretive Sign - the Grape.png
Interpretive Sign - Gulf Copper Road.png
First Interpretive Signs - 2003
  • Mellor Quarry, Auburn - Natural Resources

  • Gulf 'Copper' Road, Leasingham - Development due to copper at Burra

  • Riesling - the Grape, Watervale - Region's significant wines

  • John Ainsworth Horrocks, Penwortham - Early pioneers

  • The Jesuits, Sevenhill - Immigration history, first winery

  • Quarry Road Bridge, Clare - Railway History

Useful Developments:
  • Car Parking and Parking Bays

  • Three 'Loop Trails'

    • John Horrocks Loop​

    • Father Rogalski Loop

    • Spring Gully Loop

  • Seating along the Trail

  • Restoration of Sevenhill Railway siding

Partnership Agreement with Govt.
  • An initial Partnership Agreement signed for year to June 2003, with a budget of $84,000

  • Second Agreement signed to November 2004, with a budget of $100,000

  • Negotiations to develop triennium funding agreements

Useful Developments
Five Loop off the Riesling Trail.png
In 2004

AGM discussion (11 November 2004):

  • The Mawson Trail and the Riesling Trail:
  • The Mawson Trail was originally developed for long-distance cyclists, avoiding towns and built-up areas

  • In response to community concerns, the Mawon Trail has now been re-routed to give access to provisions and accomodation:

  • Adelaide to Tanunda​

  • Tanunda to Riverton

  • Riverton to Burra via the Riesling Trail in the Clare Valley

  • The Mawson Trail from the Auburn Oval to the Mount Horrocks Wines will be developed to Riesling Trail standards​

  • A joint Mawson Trail/Riesling Trail to Barinia is the dream.

The Clare Model (Train) Engineers will take the Trail to the Clare Country Club 

In 2005 
  • Riesling Trail Charity Bike Ride - Sunday 24 April 2005, raised $25,000 for the McGuinness McDermott Foundation (supporting seriously ill children)

  • Hardy Wine Co., new owners of the old Clare Rail Yards, agree to allow the Riesling Trail access to the north from Clare with a 5-metre easement for the Trail over their property

  • An extension to the Barinia siding is now possible (Barinia is the northern-most area of the Clare Valley wine region)

  • Father Rogalski Polish Hill loop trail established and signposted

  • Auburn bridge work was to be funded by Government Office of Recreation and Sport (ORS).

  • ORS will provide:

    • $5,000 for administration and management

    • $26,000 for maintenance and minor works

    • $82,800 for major works (altogether $113,800)

  • ORS funds $136,840 cheque received​

  • Ryves Hawker convened a meeting to consider public art and sculpture with enthusiastic support

    • Arts SA ask to meet the group and advise on funding (Oct.10)

  • New Management Committee consists of​

    • Graham Mill (Chair)​

    • Peter Wood (Clare Valley Tourism Association)

    • Robert Bartholomaeus 

    • Helene Bourne 

    • Noel Kelly (Clare Valley WInemakers Inc)

    • Ryves Hawker, Anama (and AARTAG)

    • Patricia Jacka (Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council)

    • Anthea Shem (Office of Recreation and Sport)

    • Tony Cox

Clare tends to lack a strong draw for visitors.png
Auburn finally linked
Public Art on the Riesling Trail
Draft of sign at railway art site.jpg
Public Art on the Riesling Trail

As well as a cycling and walking trail, the Committee hoped the Riesling Trail would also take people on a cultural journey.

1. The first installed artwork was 'Power Lines' by local arttist Vivian Ziersch, which was completed in 2008.

Power Lines sculpture on Riesling Trail..png
Gathering sculpture on Riesling Trail..png

The first art works on the Riesling Trail through Clare

Above Left: 'Power Lines' by Vivian Ziersch 

Above Right: 'The Gathering' designed by artists
Verity Jasmine Burley and Kath Inglis, who designed
and created the work along with local stonemason Peter Russell

Auburn finally linked

In 2018 the big news was that finally the funding ($320,000) became available to complete the Riesling Trail into Auburn and so link directly with the Rattler Trail.

This involved

  • rebuilding a 60m long bridge across the River Wakefield,

  • constructing 1km of trail along the old railway track and

  • putting safety rails in place for the crossing at Horrocks Highway. 


Completion of the final section of the Riesling Trail into Auburn was celebrated with a grand opening ceremony on 19th of November 2019, over 20 years from the establishment of the Trail.

This completion has really enhanced that section of the trail and has made it much more convenient and safer to access in Auburn. The much-photo-graphed archway near the start in Auburn really sets it off.

Around 150 native trees have been planted along this section of the trail with help from the Upper Wakefield Landcare Group and students from the Auburn Primary School.

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