Cudlee Creek, SA, Australia.

More News Paper articles from the 1920's

By our Special Reporter


An Entrancing Corridor

If an unlabelled moving picture of the Gorge road were thrown on the screen people would ask where it was. The route is an eye-opener in rugged beauty. For most of the 17 miles, from the time the gateway is entered at Athelstone, the track runs between massive, rock-ribbed, tree-spread cliffs which climb hundreds of feet, and seem to meet the blue sky. From the moment you get into contact with the great panorama, it is a wonderland of wild, decorative effects, carried out by Nature to big scale. The road has the appearance of a bold, tiny interloper, twisting in and out among the boulders with flimsy, and almost precarious, audacity. Looking up on one side you see the hills, mottled by shadows on a sunny afternoon, lean their grey bulk against a radiant back ground. On the other the jagged, broken rock offers, at times, a rather uncomfortable proximity, supplying a striking colour contrast with their red and dark blue and brown faces. Running along this 24-ft. thoroughfare, amid some of the most impressive open-air sculpture to be seen in Australia, you involuntarily duck now and then, in expectation of being hit by one of these giant fists. Then, right underneath, flows with placid grace, the little creek, framed in brilliant green rushes or tender fern. When the towering avenues disappear, as it were, into the wings of this magnificent stage, there come through the scattered gums glimpses of fruit gardens, designed as symmetrically as a draughtboard, or arranged in marvellous rows of potato and tomato plants, suggesting the faultless elegance of the top lines in a copy book. So you get on this excursion up the Gorge road, the blend of dainty, man-made utilities and the moving grandeur of God-made scenery.

An Exhilarating Experience

The picturesqueness of this 17-mile journey has a unique balance. The approach through the graceful porch of Athelstone is by a road which is like a long key unlocking the hidden treasures. Once inside the traversing of the long corridor is a thrilling experience. The splendid grade, a maximum of 1 in 25, and as low as 1 in 200, takes away any sense of danger to the motorist, who may travel on top gear all the way. The bends are easy to negotiate, with here and there just sufficient swerve to impart an exhilarating feeling. The hills mount in a precipitous stairway, to six or seven hundred feet, but the creek below is within 20 and 30 feet. The whole situation has features calculated to make the driver of a motor or other vehicle keep his wits awake - and judgment on the alert, but ordinary skill and common-sense are all that is needed for a safe passage. On Thursday, when, at the courteous invitation of the Commissioner of Crown Lands (Hon. G. R. Laffer), I again enjoyed a dash into our new tourist inheritance of the hills, there was an added piquancy by the fact that most of the fencing of the track is still to be done. There were places which we skirted, at rather a giddy angle - a matter of some inches between a dry ride and a good ducking — but when the job is completed there will be posts and wires for nearly the complete distance. The object of yesterday's excursion was to enable the Minister to view the great work prior to the departure for his world tour of the Engineer for Roads and Bridges (Mr. D. V. Fleming), who will leave Adelaide next Thursday. Mr. Fleming has had charge of the construction of the Gorge road practically ever since operations began six or seven years ago. It is an achievement of which he ought to be proud. This is easily the biggest thing in roads ever undertaken by the department.

Two Official Triumphs

Millbrook and the Gorge road are two official triumphs. In a sense, each made the other, and this accomplishment of interdependence seems to be sustained in the fact that the track is carrying about seven miles of the pipes. The finest and longest scenic road in South Australia, and the greatest and most elegant reservoir are sister undertakings. It is a singularly happy circumstance. Each picturesque and utilitarian. The people of the metropolitan area want the water, and the producers of the hills need the road. This link with Gumeracha is almost better than a railway, or it will do for the pre sent, at any rate. The market gardeners, Mr. Fleming told me, do not have to guide their horses when they use the gorge highway, they just drop the reins, and the horses and the grade do the rest. It is merely a case of round and round, and through the everlasting hills to the city. Already, too, you can see that settlement is following the road. The land of a number of the gullies has been broken into chocolate patches. Armies of young fruit trees are beginning to drill, and many rows of vegetable plants are streaking the rich cloth-like curves and lines of fresh green paint. With Millbrook water to grow them and a magnificent track for the carting, the conditions for development are idyllic. Mr. Laffer, who was a gardener himself, remarked, as we swept through the grand panorama, 'We do not know even yet what these hills can produce. You can go into the Adelaide market and get a cabbage nearly the whole year round. Millbrook and the Gorge road have made a paradise up here.

Long and Costly

Of course, they have been six years building this road. The long war and short money are the explanations. There might have been still further delay, when things got better if Millbrook had not pushed the business on. Adelaide wanted the water. It meant that, for about seven miles, the laying of the pipes and the construction of the track, which was blasted out of the solid rock, had to go hand in hand. Now it happens that Millbrook, after all, will hang up matters. It will be 13 months or two years before the road is completed for its full length. Leaky spots are being found in the mains, and while the digging up and putting back process goes on Mr. Fleming is unable to do the metalling. That must wait now until after next winter. The patches of diorite and quartzite which have been finished, however, give a fine indication of what a splendid highway it will be. Then, the whole cost of the undertaking mast inevitably be greater. The original estimate was £75.000, but the actual expenditure will be nearer £200.000. Everything is dearer. When the Gorge road was started, wages were 8/-a day; now they are 13/3, with a shilling camp allowance. The outlay on materials has also advanced considerably, but the work had to go on. So many as 400 men have been engaged at one time. The Minister was highly pleased with what he saw yesterday, and was most complimentary to Mr. Fleming. The road is 3 ft. wider than intended in the first place, and five reinforced concrete bridges have had to be erected: These alone have cost more than £30,000. Mr. Laffer says they will be known as 'Fleming's Bridges,' because he was the skilful designer, but, as a matter of fact, each has been given a local name, by which they will be familiarly known. The structures combine beauty of line with unchallengeable strength, and No. 1 on the track, Bachelor's Bridge, is notably attractive, with ifs shelving back ground of massive hill.

Rugged Corridor

We motored over the entire distance, entering the rugged corridor at Athelstone, and finishing at the old Gumeracha Bridge after a journey which was a feast for the eye and a tonic for the body. We saw gums, red and blue, and white, in all the glory of their own stately grouping, and passed masses of the young stuff the colour of saltbush. Alternating the heavy beauty of the towering cliffs was the ordered grace of nestling gardens, tucked shyly in the gullies, or scaling the lower slopes. The sun glistened on the young leaves, and painted birds sang and danced in their own fairyland. . Then, on the homeward journey we skirted sparkling Millbrook whose Waters played hide and seek among the hills, and spread about with the careless symmetry of a miniature harbour.

"PICTURES ON THE GORGE ROAD." The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929) 20 January 1922

[The Register 1927, October 19 1927]



The Register's report on the work on the Gorge Road to Gumeracha was extremely gratifying to myself, the more so that this route will be so much appreciated by the public. Recent statements in the press, however, have given a very wrong and unjust impression relative to the responsibility for carrying out this work. The first portion of this road to be constructed was that from the turn at Athelstone to Sixth Creek to join the Montacute road. I inspected the route, and gave my assistants instructions to erect a line of tents along the left bank of the river, and to keep the gradient of the road surface at a given height above the highest flood level. To these plans subsequently prepared the road was built. On completion, a request was received from the residents interested to have the road continued from Sixth Creek to Gumeracha or thereabouts. In company with several of these gentlemen, including Messrs. Hannaford, Hersey, Batchelor, and Crouch, I examined the banks along the course of the River Torrens from the Prairie to Sixth Creek, through the Gorge, and decided to take the line along the left bank. I was told that this was the first time the practicalities of a road through the Torrens Gorge had been admitted. The balance of the route, from Prairie to Gumeracha Bridge was also inspected, and the line decided upon. The survey was made and levels taken under precisely the same instructions as given for the course of the portion between the weir and the Sixth Creek, and the work was started, and carried on under my control. Before dosing down in 1917, the heaviest portions of the construction through the Gorge, together with the large reinforced concrete bridge near Cudlee Creek, was carried out under my personal control and direction, and was practicality done with before I left the department in 1918. With the exception of the deviation necessary to go round the side of a subsequently proposed control weir the road, with its bridges and other works incidental to it, has been constructed to the plans laid down by myself and the heaviest and most difficult parts executed before 1917.

THE GORGE ROAD. (1922, January 25). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), , p. 9.

THE GORGE ROAD. (1927, October 19). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), , p. 11.


CHAIN OF PONDS, October 17

Last, week work was begun at Wakefeild's Quarry on the Gorge Road, where a Government crusher has been erected. A little roadwork in preparation for the bitumen was also started near Bachelor's Bridge. Last year this work was completed from the weir of the Hope Valley Reservoir to Bachelor's Bridge. Two camps have been erected for workmen. The largest one is near Wakefield's Quarry, and the other has been pitched at Crouch's Bridge, a little further down the road. Last week only one good round of shots was fired at the quarry but the contractors for the quarrying, Messrs. V. Keane & C. Wilkey, expect a frequent repetition of blasting this week. Much of the gear for the bitumen work is in readiness along the roadside. The large notice board at the junction of the Gorge Road with the Chain of Ponds road informing the travelling public of the road being closed last year has, during the winter, months been covered with bagging. Last week portion of the covering was taken off, leaving the public to guess what may occur in the near future. When work begins in earnest it is expected that the whole of the covering will be removed and that the road will be closed to traffic during working hours. Last week the Automobile Association had posts and wires erected at two of the corners on the township side of Red Hill. The posts have been painted white. One of the corners on which a fence has been erected is the one where no many accidents have occurred in the past, and where the loaded coach of Hill and Co. once capsized. Many motorists have wanted a much wider roadway than the present situation gives them and it would have been wiser if the corner could have been widened a little before the fence was erected. Motor parties also frequently camped on the hall property at this corner, but the fencing has blocked the track. A number of disappointed motorists had to find a fresh resort over the week-end as a consequence. Another dangerous comer a little further, and where several motor cars have careered through the fence into the orchard beneath, has not been fenced.

The Register


Passing of a Township.

MILLBROOK, August 24, 1918
The passing of the township of Millbrook from the map is now almost accomplished. The settlement first got its name from a large five storied flourmill, which has for some years been razed, and only the debris was left, although the old millpond remained. The mill was built and worked by Mr. Whitford, its foundation-stone having been laid by Mr. Francis Symonds, about 60 years ago. Later the mill was utilized by Messrs. Cornish & Barclay, and subsequently, after the closing down of business operations, church services were conducted in it. A. fortnight ago the well-known hotel, The Travellers' Rest, began to disappear. This hotel was built by the late Mr. Richard Jolly, and the first licensee was Mr. John Tippett. Another place which has been demolished is the old private school of Mrs. Adey. When Mrs. Adey gave up teaching her sister, Miss Agnes Adey, conducted the establishment until the new public school was opened with Mr. Risely as bead master. Other places which have been destroyed include 19 homes. The area which will shortly be inundated represented a district of an industrious and thriving community. A public hall has also been removed; also a butcher's shop, a store at Sunning Hill and an old wine cellar, which, in the early days, was owned by Mr. Leane, a member of the well-known military family. The Sunning Hill Methodist Church, was another structure which came down at the hands of the destroyers.

A Big Undertaking

The Millbrook Waterworks Act was passed almost six years ago, and after the surrey the first sod to be turned in its construction was done in connection with the inlet tunnel at the outlet end near Chain of Ponds, towards the end of 1913, by the contractors for that portion of the work Messrs. Atkins & Finlayson. For more than two years men were working three shifts from each end, where engines, boilers, and air compressors were installed, and were working at full pressure. Accidents during this arduous task were few. The tunnel is 5,224 ft. in length, 10 ft. 9 in. in height, and 7 ft. wide between the concrete. During the excavation work many tons of timber and firewood were necessary, and many men found employment in cutting and delivering the firewood and timber. The contractors had great difficulty in coping with the huge body of water which was struck in the tunnel, and all through the drought of 1914 this volume maintained its flow which considerably augmented the supply in the Hope Valley and Thornton Park Reservoirs during that critical period. The embankment, outlet tunnel,-and valve tower, besides many other portions of the construction, including, the clearing of timber and other growth from the basin of the reservoir, the making of the new main road from Chain of Ponds to a point on Breakneck Hill known as Rocky Point, and another diversion from Chain of Ponds to a point near the old copper mine to replace the traffic from Tweedvale and Cudlee Creek districts have been accomplished departmentally. The weir at Gumeracha Bridge across the River Torrens, which is 113 ft. between the abutments and 31 ft. above the bed of the river, was also built by Messrs. Atkins and Finlayson. This structure sends the water back for about two miles up the river, and when flowing over presents a beautiful spectacle. The main road to Gumeracha is only a short distance away from this large body of water, and tourists can get a good view of most of it from the roadway. The water is taken from the weir by means of reinforced concrete conduit for a distance of 730 ft. to the inlet tunnel.

The Rising Water

Recently an informal ceremony of opening the Millbrook Waterworks was performed by the Commissioner of Public works (Hon. J. G. Bice), in the presence of the Hydraulic Engineer (Mr. C.A. Bayer), the Resident Engineer (Mr. E. J. Bradley), and other visitors. Since that date the new main road to Adelaide has been completed and the old route closed, and the same attention has been directed to the Cudlee Creek and Tweedvale road. The water has been gradually rising in the Reservoir, but during the past week or so the rise has been most noticeable. For some time the water kept away from the main road near the hotel at Millbrook, but now the site of this building is completely covered and the old mill pond is now portion of this huge lake. The reservoir has risen over the bridge at Sunning Hill, and a large portion of the roadway to Cudlee Creek has been inundated. The old Conquerors' football ground, and Dillon's orchard site have been covered, and the well. known Chain of Ponds cricket ground and tennis courts are deeply covered with water. This ground was once the pride of the district, and was visited by many city teams and visitors. The water rushing through the tunnel can be hoard, like the approach of a hurricane, for a considerable distance as it leaves the outlet of the tunnel and flows with great force down a small gully into the Ponds Creek, near that is known as Hooper's Fiat. It then, empties itself into the reservoir, following the course of the creek, flowing under a large five span bridge of reinforced con-rete near the rocks, about.200 yards from the township. From this bridge and the new roadways the scenery is fine. Already water birds have found their way here. these include a large number of swans and ducks. The area of water when the reservoir is full will be 480 acres and the distance around 10 miles. The greatest stretch of water will exceed two miles in length. Ideal views of the reservoir can be had from summits close to Chain of Ponds on the main road to Gumeracha, and a steady increase in visitors has been noticeable at week-ends. The post and telephone office at Millbrook has been closed, and a receiving office opened on the new main road, about half a mile away from the old office. The long established mail service conducted by Messrs. John Hill & Co. changed its course on August 12 and travelled along the near road, in order to reach the new office.

(The Journal, Saturday August 24th 1918).

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