Walk And Learn
21st of September, 2018
Walking is a wonderful way get some exercise, see some sights and learn about history while continually observing how our Five Drivers manifest into both our economy and land prices.
Ian and I set off to conquer 25km of the Clare Valley Riesling Trail, while my mum, Michele, and her very good friend Viv, walked from Henley Beach to Adelaide City along the Linear Park bike track. We were walking as part of our 50Fifty Challenge.
THE RIESLING TRAIL
The Riesling Trail started life as a railway line between the postcard towns of Riverton & Clare in the beautiful Clare Valley north of Adelaide.
Originally it was the discovery of Copper at Burra that saved South Australia from potential bankruptcy in 1845 with Clare providing agricultural support to the growing population of miners hoping to make their fortunes mining copper.
Ian and I can attest to the higher rainfall of the region as we spent about 45mins walking head on into rain coming down in sheets, but soon it cleared and the attractive fertile soils that have blessed this picturesque country opened up. It was easy to see just why this area has significant agricultural importance to the South Australian economy.
As is still true in today’s infrastructure plays, the proposed rail link was based upon completely unrealistic costings that blew sky high. It was difficult terrain that tested the engineering resolve of the time as well as being tough on those who had to cut into the embankments with nothing but a pick and shovel.
The Clare to Riverton railway line was officially opened on 4 July 1918 but not surprisingly never actually ran at a profit.
The walk is actually made up of two walks, “The Riesling Trail” (Clare to Auburn) and the “the Rattler Trail” (Auburn to Riverton) which got its name due to the relentless carriage vibrations throughout the trip brought about by the use of poor materials.
A feature of the original line was an 80-ton manual “Turntable” which allowed the engines to do an about turn. Although its manual operation looks very basic when compared to today’s technological standards, standing in the remaining pit you can only be impressed when imagining a few blokes turning a mammoth steam engine 180 degrees by hand. In its time it must have been an impressive piece of engineering.
However, my real take away is- it’s just another example of the how we discount the importance of both the technology and infrastructure of the time.
THE GROWTH IN THE WINE INDUSTRY
Although agriculture has always been a major underlying driver of this community and as David Ricardo tell us, land, will always be used for its most productive purpose. This is why you don’t see industrial estates in Collins or Pitt street.
And so, it is on the Riesling Trail, where low output grazing and small farming has been upgraded to a complex and sophisticated wine industry.
This whole region is littered with vineyards and wine production facilities with annual production being around 20,000 tonnes. It is famous for its Rieslings and 50 or so wineries are now producing wines including Rieslings, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlots using the most up to date wine technology.
The Clare valley used to produce some great VP’s (Vintage Ports) including the ‘Quelltaler Wyatt Earp and the Seven Hills vintage ports.
Unfortunately for VP drinkers’ VPs are no longer in vogue and the Clare Valley wineries concentrate on the more commercial wine varieties to maximize “The Effortless Advantage” that they can extract from their lands.
For Ian and I walking the Riesling Trial was not only a beautiful walk which I would encourage you all to undertake given the chance, but also provided just another example of how our Five Underlying Drivers continue to manifest in real life.
In typical Ian and Jeremy style it also allowed us the time to have a 6 hour Calnan Flack business meeting. See we are never ones to waste time so we walked, talked, took notes and worked our way through our business meeting agenda.
A little unorthodox I grant you, but then again Ian and I are never ones to just follow the path so to speak….
MICHEL AND VIV
We are all very thankful to Michele and Viv who also undertook their own Fifty50 Challenge walking from Henley Beach to Adelaide following the Linear Park path along the River Torrens.
From 1836 (settlement) until the mid-1970’s the banks of the River Torrens, south of the old industrial areas around Thebarton and north of the growing city of Adelaide, were valuable market gardens providing the new settlement with fruit and vegetables.
By the mid 1970’s these market gardens were almost completely gone and had been slowly and quietly pushed much further north (Virginia) and south (Willunga) and east (Adelaide Hills) of the city.
Believe it or not but in place of the market gardens were new housing estates eating their way into the fertile flood plains of the River Torrens.
Likewise, the old industrial sites were replaced by townhouses and apartments as the industrial factories closed and the sites were recycled for more profitable use.
Ian and I and my son Rhett met the Dynamic Duo along their way, showing our support by walking the last stretch which finished at the Sir William Goodman Bridge.
What I find so fascinating is that although our walk was 150km away in Clare, their walk was surrounded with as many practical lessons and examples of the Economic Drivers.
The Sir William Goodman Bridge is Adelaide’s first Reinforced Concrete Bridge. Built in 1909 to span SA’s mighty River Torrens it was another engineering feat of the time. It opened up commerce and residential opportunities between the city and the seaside suburbs just 10km away. Just another infrastructure play that resulted in higher land prices something I might write about in another blog.
The team at Calnan Flack would like to express our sincere thanks to everyone who has participated, donated and helped us with the Fifty50 Challenge.
Jordy has just returned from Kenya having laid the foundation stones for 2 new homes that 26 orphans will soon call home. Just another way our collective support is influencing lives in a positive manner.
So from all of us at Calnan Flack we would like to say thank you for your fantastic support.
To learn more about the Fifty50 challenge click here: www.fifty50challenge.org