The Australian Gravel Adventure 2017 / 2018 – Part Six – Meadows, Goolwa & Steam Power

Meadows – A small town in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia. Best known for its historic buildings, craft shops, a winery and a must-visit bakery. Said bakery is very popular among the two-wheeled crowd. Nearby Kuitpo Forest measures 5,000 hectares / 12,355 acres and is a haven for bushwalking (aka hiking), cycling and equestrian activities.

Goolwa – A historic river port on the Murray River, located near the mouth of the Murray River. The name “Goolwa” means “elbow” in Ngarrindjeri, the local Aboriginal language, and the area was known as “The Elbow” to the early settlers. You can read more about Goolwa in this Wikipedia link.

Steam Power comes into this article courtesy of SteamRanger, a historical train society that runs various vintage steam locomotives in South Australia. If you’re a regular visitor to this site, you’ll know I’m a fan of railways. Riding a train pulled along by a steam locomotive has been one of my lifetime goals, and SteamRanger just happens to have a line from the town of Goolwa to nearby Victor Harbor. Superb!

“Victor” as it is often known by South Australians, is on the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula, about 80 kilometres / 50 miles south of Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. “The town is the largest population centre on the peninsula, with an economy based upon agriculture, fisheries and various industries. It is also a highly popular tourist destination, with the area’s population greatly expanded during the summer holidays, usually by Adelaide locals looking to escape the summer heat.” Source, Wikiedia.

The day’s agenda:

  • Begin my ride in the town of Meadows, taking as many gravel roads as possible to the historic Goolwa railway station.
  • Board SteamRanger’s “Cockle Train” for the steam train journey to Victor Harbor.
  • Enjoy a spot of lunch.
  • Ride back to Meadows, again traversing as many gravel roads as possible.

Photo Essay – Meadows, Goolwa and Steam Power

Gravel roads and vineyards on the outskirts of Meadows.

So many choices, so many (g)roads.

Lode Road. Closed to cars but not to gravel bikes. Washed out and tricky to descend!

Another sector of SteamRanger’s railway line.
The remains of an old railway station.
Goolwa Railway Station as the train arrives.

Locomotive on the Victor Harbor turntable.

Because steam locomotive cab design requires them to run forward when pulling a load (assuming a single locomotive) the locomotive must be disconnected from the train, and turned around on a turntable to travel in the opposite direction along the same railway line. Tedious and time-consuming, but this is how it was done at an earlier time.

Railway carriages await the return of their locomotive.
The locomotive returns and will switch tracks to connect with the carriages.
The locomotive reverses to connect with the carriages.
T-Lab X3 review bike ready to go!

Ordinarily, bicycles go inside the baggage car.

Inside the baggage compartment.
Middleton Railway Station.

Watching the world go by.

Along the coast, heading to Victor Harbor, South Australia.
Gravel road heading away from Victor Harbor.
Curvy gravel roads are the best going.
Not a bad view anywhere on this ride.

Be sure to check out the video that accompanies this article. And, don’t forget to subscribe to the Gravel Cyclist Youtube channel if you haven’t already.

Thanks for reading!



  1. Avatar stephen

    Hi JOM, I’ll be in or near Adelaide for the first half of March, and was hoping to ride the steam train this time.

    1. Was there any problem taking your bike on the train, and did you need to book space for it? (I’d be there midweek.)
    2. Do you think 20×1 3/8″ tyres might *survive* on those roads? (It would be much easier to take the Bike Friday on the plane.)


    • JOM JOM

      Stephen, I made no booking and had no problem getting on board. Your bike will need to go inside the baggage car… I guess they liked me or something? Bikes inside the regular carriage is a no no. Midweek is best for sure, and not on a school holiday.

      I reckon you’ll be fine on all but the cruddiest of roads. Just slow down and carefully pick your line!

      Ta ta for now… landing in the USA soon.

      • Avatar stephen

        Thanks JOM! I wish I was arriving in the US shortly – 30°F is much better than 30°C for me. ;^)

  2. Avatar jwilli

    Jayson, just great photo’s…again! Thanks for sharing the “down under” with us!

  3. Avatar Heffe

    A wee bit off topic, but are you familiar with in Victoria? If you happen by that area you might find what they’re doing interesting.

  4. Avatar Tom in MN

    Wow, that looks like fun. What a great idea for a ride!

  5. Avatar Pascal

    Got a Strava link? I have done Adelaide to Victor a few times now and recognise some of the roads in the video, but would like to see if there’s some new ones I can try.

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