COLUMN: Walkabout in Kuitpo Forest

Shafts of bright winter sunlight peeking through immense pine trees. The fun of watching young people on trail bikes and horses darting through the bushland. Picnicking in a stand of 1920s eucalypts.

All very good reasons to call in at Kuitpo Forest Reserve on a sun-splashed winter afternoon.

Forestry SA, which manages this 3600 hectares of pine and eucalypt forest, has created a useful network of multi-use trails.

We chose a portion of one of them, the Tinjella Trail, that also matches up with part of SA's famed Heysen Trail (that's the one that goes from Cape Jervis to the Flinders Ranges).

On this walk, you experience pine plantations and native bush, sharing the experience with trail bike enthusiasts and horse riders.

Much of the Tinjella Trail offers wide and expansive views and often you have the track to yourself.

Most visitors arrive at the reserve via Brookman Road, driving towards Meadows. Turn right into Christmas Hill Road and then Connor Road. Look for a large car park and begin your trek from there.

You can do the full 12 km return walk (just on four hours) or cut it in half, as we did, returning to the car via the Heysen Trail.

Photographing on a sunny day, look for the smaller details of nature like vibrant back-lighting on a yellow flower, or colourful fungus on the forest floor.

Other tracks you can choose include the fairly short Eucalypts Trail (just an hour), the slightly longer Avenues Trail starting at the picnic ground, or the delightfully-named Chookarloo Trail, very compact and easy to walk.

Top off your day with a visit to one of the two nearby wineries in the eastern end of McLaren Vale.

Both K1 and Lazy Ballerina enjoy extraordinarily lovely settings and serve meals along with reliably superb vintages.

Steve Robertson is a local travel writer and photographer who loves to explore SA's natural beauty.

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