Martindale and Merilden
This drive requires you to drive on unsealed roads. The roads are absolutely no problem to a traditional 4 wheel drive and, except after a recent rain event, generally OK for the family car or even a small sedan. An adventure worth a bit of dust and bone shaking! You are probably aware of Martindale Hall, arguably Mintaro’s most significant attraction. Surrounding it are 11,000 acres of prime farming land, until recently all owned by The University of Adelaide. A significant acreage has been recently sold to BTG, a therapeutic pharmaceutical manufacturer that produces Rattle Snake anti venin for the North American market.
This drive will take you through the centre of Martindale, past its cattle yards, shearing shed, shearers’ quarters, manager’s residence and the original farm centre with its barns, stables, blacksmith’s workshop and single men’s’ quarters. And to the Merilden Railway Station and Goods Shed.
Lets get underway!
You may wish to combine this drive with your visit to Martindale Hall or make it a separate excursion. In any event you need to follow the signs out of town to The Hall. You will go “down and over” a floodway just before a turn to your left up an unsealed road or a turn to the right through the gates of The Hall.
Whether you go to The Hall first or straight into the drive, the turn up the unsealed road gets us on the way. Follow the road east for about 1.5 kms until you come across modern cattle yards on the first left turn. You may like to get out and see if you can work out how the yards work; where cattle are brought to the crush ( that structure that confines them for treatment like vaccinations, de-horning, artificial insemination, pregnancy testing etc), where are they loaded for market and how does this maze of yards allow them to be drafted (separated) into different groups.
Take the left turn and travel down the road for 200m and pull over at the iron gate. Look up the hill to your right. You will see the original, and still used stone shearing shed with galvanised extension. Further to the left are the impressive shearers’ quarters, still used at least twice a year.
Over the creek and up the hill for a further 400m and you will pass the Manager’s house, a substantial single storey colonial residence with return verandas. 100 metres further on and stop at double gates. Down to your right is the original farm centre with the buildings as listed earlier. The blacksmith’s shop is the free standing faded red galvanised iron square structure with the turret chimney for the forge.
A further 500m up the road and, over the crest, stop at the cyclone gates to your left. Note the chicken wire fencing style that indicates the “coursing paddock”, where live hare coursing was conducted from 1884 to 1986 (102 years) by the Mintaro Coursing Club. (see a display of the club’s memorabilia in the Magpie and Stump Hotel). Information on Live Hare Coursing is found elsewhere on this website.
Approximately 1 kilometre down the road you will come to a cross roads, which offers three choices. A turn to the left will take you back to the northern outskirts of Mintaro if you do not wish to proceed on this drive. If you go straight over and 500m up Woockie Creek Road you will come to the Mintaro Gas Turbine Station, a part of SA’s power grid, first opened by the then Premier John Bannon in March 1984. During the First Gulf War of 1990-91, the power station had 24 hour security guards patrolling its grounds, much to the bemusement of the locals!
If you proceed on past the Power Station you will come out on the Mintaro to Farrell Flat Road. A left turn will see you back in Mintaro, a right turn in Farrell Flat.
Best option is a U turn and go back to the cross roads and turn left onto Merilden Road. 4.5 kms on, turn right into Bowman’s Road and pull into the Merilden Railway Station and its stone Goods Shed. Follow this link for the history of this once bustling part of Mintaro’s life. ……………………….
Head further down Bowman’s Road for 1 kilometre, across a floodway and turn right into Martindale Road. A six kilometre drive through the heart of Martindale’s rich farming land will see you pass the airstrip to your left, opposite the quarry used for road maintenance and then the current working hub of the farm with implement sheds, workshops, silos etc on your right. Before you know it you will be passing the cattle yards and back to the floodway and the gates of Martindale Hall. Turn right to Mintaro and left to Martindale Hall.
Depending on how long you spend out of the car, this drive will be less than 1 hour. Enjoy our beautiful countryside!
Polish Hill River
This drive requires you to drive on some unsealed roads. The roads are absolutely no problem to a traditional 4 wheel drive and generally OK for the family car or even a small sedan. An adventure worth a bit of dust and bone shaking!
Its best to start this trip at Pauletts Winery at the top of Trillion’s Hill, the highest point on the Mintaro to Sevenhill Road. You may take this drive when returning to Mintaro from Clare or, if its a stand alone adventure, head to Pauletts from Mintaro.
The view alone makes a stop at Pauletts Winery a must! As well as tasting this family owned winery’s great products, you can experience a magnificent view of Polish Hill River and beyond.
Back in the car, head out of the winery (left turn) and down the Mintaro road (one continuous left hand bend) for 500 metres. Take the road to the left (which really means going straight on) and this unsealed road will take you through the western end of the valley. Numerous small vineyards line the road for the next 2 kms until you arrive at Annie’s Lane corner.
To the left is the entrance to the Wilson Winery; straight over the crossing and 400 metres on is the gate to Pikes Winery on your left. These Polish Hill River wineries boast excellent reputations for producing superb cool climate wines.Take the time to check out the links to these three winery’s websites for product detail, opening hours and other information.
Just before the entrance to Pikes you will pass, on your left, the Polish Church and museum, which is open from 11am to 4pm on the first Sunday of each month except January. Check out the website for its history and significance.
Back on Polish Hill River Road after turning left from Pike’s, head down the road to the East for 2.5 kms to the T junction with Hill River Road. Turn right onto this somewhat bumpy road and follow the road around the side of Mt Rufus. It’s not unusual to see many kangaroos on the hill to your right. Again, this road affords a magnificent view to the left over the rich farming lands of Mintaro.
After 2.2 kms, you will be back on the Mintaro Road. Turn left and another 2.3 kms will see you back in our magnificent town. Depending on just how long you linger at the three wineries, allow 1 to 1.5 hours for the excursion.