Australian Road Rider


The sign on the wall was ominous: “Bear was given 10-80 on 3-3-04 which killed him.” The thought of Bear, hopefully someone’s pet, being given sodium fluoroacetate poison, had the theme from Deliverance in my head. Welcome to Terowie, South Australia.

I’ve turned off the Barrier Highway to go to Terowie in South Australia’s mid north. It’s wall-to-wall blue sky but the temperature is barely reaching double figures. My grip heaters are cranked up to almost full. As I swing onto the main street I’m greeted by a canyon of abandoned hotels, shops, banks and a building that was once the Temperance Hotel. Before the banjos of Deliverance start playing in my head, it’s soundtracks from Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy. After seeing Bear’s sign, maybe Wake in Fright would be more suitable.

However, you must never judge a town on first impressions, so I stop in front of the CWA rooms, which is now an information centre and open for business despite the fact I’m the only person in sight.


I had started this ride from my home in the Adelaide hills. Still suffering the hangover of COVID-19 rules, my partner was working from home. I had a couple of weeks leave coming up so she suggested I get out of the house for a few days so she could concentrate. I didn’t need to be told twice.

The Mid North of South Australia is an area I have ridden through a couple of times but without stopping. I have always wanted to return to explore this area and this was my chance. This wasn’t just a destination ride but a meandering exploration.

There’s a variety of ways to get to my first night’s accommodation but I choose to avoid the direct routes and point my bike towards the back roads. I head first for Swamp Road. It runs between Balhannah and Lenswood, winding through orchard and vineyard country past full dams following recent rainfalls and lush green paddocks. Care is needed as the road is damp and greasy. East of here is the crowded Onkaparinga Valley Road and west, closer to Adelaide, is the Lobethal Road, which is a motorcyclists’ racetrack on any Sunday morning. Swamp Road joins it at Lenswood so I follow it to Lobethal.

This area was scorched in the Cudlee Creek bush fire last summer and it still shows the scars — missing fences, charred trees and the occasional blackened foundations outlining the remains of a shed or someone’s former home. I don’t stop but continue to the village of Mt Torrens. The mountain it is named after looms over the village and prior to last summer it was crowned with healthy dense bushland. Now the skeletons of the huge gumtrees stand like sacrificed guardians over the village that escaped the inferno.

From here I take Terlinga Road

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