Niblet Gap

This was a 238km loop with lots of gravel. I wanted to ride Niblet Gap as a little joke between friends, but it's also a way to see some really remote farming country. Niblet Gap itself  is only about a kilometre, so strictly road bikes would be a fairly easy carry through.  The Tothill Range area to the east of Robertstown has numbers of similar tracks cutting through the ridges.

The main bitumen between Gawler and Kapunda (B81) is fairly high volume "pass you at a minimum 110kph territory."  I avoided most of it by taking the Barossa bike path out to Sandy Creek and heading north through Rosedale (Rosenthal) and then up to Greenock. This is where you get to map out which roads you want to take. One of mine, Eden Road, begins as well formed metal and then rapidly turns into mud.  It's not easy to see the change from the aerial phots on Google.  I needed to back track there.  At least I could see that in the daylight.  Coming home in the dark, Hoklas Road was impassable and I had to back track.

Greenock to Kapunda is a light traffic road until the last 3-4km where it joins the B81. I continued onto Eudunda on the B81, but bulk of the traffic seems to drop off at Kapunda. I didn't leave the bitumen until Point Pass (just north of Eudunda) but there does seem to be a route from only a kilometre or so out from Kapunda, starting at Anlaby Road.

Stock Route Road between Point Pass and Brady Creek

I can't imagine that there is not a Ngadjuri story somewhere about a "wati apu" standing next to permanent water.

Brady Creek "Stone Man"

Niblet Gap begins with a muddy track and then gets "technical" on the west side.


As I picked my way up into Niblet Gap I remembered my Dad's "Sunday afternoon drives," with which he terrified visitors (and me!). He'd have loved it. The EH station wagon would have reached the top with no trouble. Going down on the west side is what the mountain bikers call "technical" and even Mel would have had cause to consider the wisdom of taking his old green "bus" down that. But given the things I did with a Synod Lease Car in the NT, I can imagine him walking down and plotting out a path that wouldn't do too much damage to the undercarriage. Closer to the bottom, some wag long ago planted a purloined road sign which says "Grader Ahead."

I remember that on Dad's excursions, my younger sister Beth, who either had a head for heights or no sense of the sheer terror of what he was doing, would extract some long overdue revenge and tease me without mercy.


From Niblet Gap, I headed south on the Tothill Belt Road and then cut over the south end of the range that holds the windfarm on Steelton Road and joined the bitumen down to Marrabel and Kapunda.

It's good fast touring country, and in winter 2020, the roads are in excellent condition.

Riding up to Eudunda, I noticed a couple of signs protesting a proposed wind farm at Twin Creek, about 11km north of Kapunda. Why do people protest these things?  Is it NIMBY— why should I have my idyllic, unspoiled views of nature interrupted by these towers? As much as I love the farming country of my birth, nothing of the landscape is unspoiled. Every last bit of it has the mark of us whitefellas all over it.  Everywhere is fences, rubbish dumps, ruined houses and remnant vegetation. Apoinga Lagoon is dry. The photo below is as rugged as you can get, and in an area where few of us have ever been, but even here you can plainly see how the sheep are remaking he landscape.  Frankly, the wind and solar farms are the only chance of us being here to see the country at all!

Rock face at Brady Creek

Windfarm Steelton Road

Feeling bad for Joe Hockey

This is my second ride in the area this winter. The forecast minimums didn't seem too accurate to me. It was down to three degrees in the Barossa by 7.30pm.

In winter, the back roads through the Barossa can be a trap. In setting up a GPS course, zoom right in to make sure you have metal surfaced roads. There are plenty of "Dry Weather Only Roads" which are basically impassable when there has been rain.  Have a backup route for night time; it's very dark.

Dry weather roads are not always the disaster they can seem. The west end of Niblet Gap Road was very wet and churned up. But being a three chain road, I could take that last five or six hundred metres by riding on the grass of the main "surface."  It's a judgement call...

Greenock: Toilets at the south end of Centenary Park, off Murray Street.
Eudunda: There is a designated drinking water tap next to the barbecues in the Centenary Gardens. Look for the statue of Colin Thiele, and you're close.
Marrabel: There is an outside tap on the south wall of the men's toilets in the centre of town.
Kapunda: OTR.

24 hour food at OTR Kapunda and Gawler, otherwise you takes your chances.

(June 2020)

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