Talisker’s Not Just A Scotch

Yesterday I went for a great hike down in Talisker Conservation Park[1] and I’ve decided to blog about it as the first in a series of write-ups of the hikes I do. And because it wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t unnecessarily verbose, I’ll throw in a write-up of the rest of my day down south too.

I got off to an early start for a Sunday, out of bed around 0730 and on the road not much after 0800. I got to my good friend’s house in Yankalilla a little before 1000 where I got a tour of the house and gardens. Their fruit and veg garden is probably not that much smaller than my house. Its peaches are delicious.

It took another half-hour to get to Talisker and we may have rolled low on our navigation check, over-shooting one turn off and then parking at the picnic area in Talisker rather than at the mine walk trailhead. Not a big deal, though there was a very large hill between the two areas[2].

After getting to the trailhead, we found there were two separate walks – a short 20-minute return trip up to a lookout and a longer loop past the mine workings. We headed up to the lookout first. It wasn’t as clear as you’d expect for the middle of summer, but we were still able to see some slightly hazy details of Kangaroo Island across Backstairs Passage[3]. We also found these interesting fruit things on a tree. I’d not thought to blog about the hike by that point, so I didn’t bother taking a photo of it.

We headed down to the mine workings next which were quite interesting. I’m always amazed at how much could be accomplished with so much less technology than we have today. The mine was dug to 132m deep and had, if I recall correctly, three shafts leading down to it and several different floors at various depths. They had to use a steam pump from 40m and below to keep the water out.

We spent a moderate amount of time moving from ruin to ruin and shaft to shaft checking them out, before heading down a steep descent to look at something else – I can’t for the life of me remember what. It might have been the shaft that they used for hauling diggings out – it had a circle next to it where a horse used to do all the heavy work. I was amazed at just how circular it still is today, I can’t imagine it looked particularly different when it was in use (except for the absence of the pulley and drums).

The trail looped around back up what seemed to my completely-inexpert eye to be a dry, rocky creekbed. It was rather steep and the footing wasn’t great (though better than I thought it would be when I first looked at it). It was easily the roughest terrain I’ve hiked across so far – not that that’s saying much. I was rather winded by the time we got to the top (which is back at the main mine site) and my walking companion mercifully declared a sit-down rest before I had to admit to my defeat. She looked like she was still completely rested (note to self: get fitter). I think it was at this point that she also revealed that the chocolate snacks she’d brought along were in fact pineapple lumps which I enjoy with an unwholesome fervour.

Gods, just looking at this is making me salivate. It’s ridiculous.

Rather than return to the trailhead, we took an alternate path where we’d supposedly get to see some rock quarries. I walked through a lot of spiderwebs, but saw no quarries. It was a pleasant section, hitting the sweet spot where it’s enjoyably challenging. And then suddenly we were back on the road between the picnic area and the trailhead. The hill turned out to be much steeper on the way back up. For those of you familiar with Cobbler Creek or the Grove Way – it was notably steeper than the main climb there.

Having finished the hike, we headed into Normanville for lunch at One Little Sister. The service was rather poor (slow, unfriendly at times, and they completely forgot to bring me the drink I ordered) and the prices were rather high, but the food was rather tasty. We had a roast duck, potato, and fennel[4] salad and a goat’s cheese, artichoke, and cherry tomato pizza. I enjoyed the pizza but especially the salad. Which is awesome because neither of them are the sort of thing I would typically eat.

Lunch was followed by an afternoon of fantastic conversation sitting on top of a hill overlooking much of the Yankalilla / Normanville area and a bit of the gulf. Brilliant views and awesome company[5]. Back down the hill I was treated to an impromptu lesson in combing and carding alpaca fleece[6]. All in all, it was one of the best days I’ve had in recent memory[7].

Next week[8] I’m planning to do a section of the Walk the Yorke trails, exploring a trail between Port Clinton and Price overlooking mangrove forests and samphire flats[9]. And then it’s off to see Deadpool…


My footnotes are never essential reading. It’s where I put the tedium (or the occasional attempt at humour) that I’m loathe to cut but that most people aren’t interested in. Read at your own peril.

  1. The park is named after the Talisker Mining Company which ran a lead and silver mine there and is itself named after the Talisker region of Scotland where the whiskey comes from. I’m fairly certain I’ve only tried their 10yo, which is fairly commonly available at pubs in Adelaide. It’s okay, but not great and it would require a fairly poor scotch selection for me to buy a glass.
  2. That hill formed a large part of my justification in eating about half the peaches I was sent home with.
  3. Clearly I’m a juvenile still as I can never stop myself from giggling whenever I say Backstairs Passage. I trust I’m in good company on that one.
  4. I swear there was a fourth thing (in addition to some lettuce and onion), but I can’t remember what it was for the life of me. A cheese maybe? I dunno. Regardless, it was very nommy.
  5. I do wish the conversation hadn’t been quite so good on the hike though, I might’ve taken some photos then and this post wouldn’t be quite so bare…
  6. This lesson is somewhat responsible for a forthcoming project I hope to blog about here. But I won’t talk about that until it’s a bit more concrete. It’d be nice if my damned friends would stop inspiring me to take on crazy projects though 😛
  7. Also I got given a rock. That I will edit this post to include a picture once I’ve taken one. It’s a nifty rock. Though I need to double check what it’s called.
  8. I promise to take pictures.
  9. After a quick google, I’m assuming that samphire flats are salty flats with a lot of samphire growing on it. Samphire‘s an edible native plant also known as the sea asparagus which grows on many of South Australia’s salty flats. So there you go.
Picture of some Samphire (Tecticornia pergranulata (J.M.Black) K.A.Sheph. & Paul G.Wilson, Syn. Halosarcia pergranulata) at the Greenfields Wetlands, Dry Creek, South Australia. (Photo by Peripitus, sourced from Wikimedia)


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