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IMG_4844Frosty windscreen greeted me this morning .  My wispy breath swirling into the chilled air around my face.  The sun rays fighting hard, but clearly loosing the battle against the Antarctic air.  It will not warm until well into the afternoon on this day.

We start this walk with a hill (once again). A nice easy (huh?) 200 mtrs up to the top of the ridge adjacent Pichi Richi railway.  Great views of the pass and the railway. Pity the train is not running today. IMG_4824 Yesterday we could hear the train whistle from Mount Brown, but we were clearly not quick enough to catch a glimpse.

Lots of rocks again, with some pretty pink granite to stumble over. Funny how the mountainous hills are made of rock. Who woulda thought?  The Heysen posts are a little sparse on this ridge, especially as you descend back to the pass, as is the  so called “track”. So a map and or GPS is essential (as it should be) on this section.  IMG_4836You get a great view of Devils Peak, which we pondered about climbing.  Go up the west face? Or the overhang east face?  May have to buy some ropes and pitons I think.

Anyway, back to reality. We have another 10 K to walk  After a short break overlooking Pichi Richi Park, we headed off steadily down the ridge to the railway. We walked the train tracks for a while adjacent the trail.  Memories suddenly flood back from my childhood.  Walking the tracks with the “gang”, over bridges and through tunnels. Very much like Stand By Me the movie.IMG_4807  Even the old habits came back. Looking over my shoulder every so often for that sneaky train creeping up behind, and checking for vibrations on the rail. Hmmm. Might do a post about that later.

More Roos bounding in the bush along the ridge, and petite wildflowers rich in colour contrasted against the harshness of the ever present roseate stone. Perfection aside perfection.

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SMALLEST HOUSE IN AUSTRALIA?

Once off the tracks, we walked the dirt road through farming country, along with sheep, and an elusive bull camel, before we came across what I believe maybe the smallest new house I have ever seen.

We stopped just outside of Qourn on Altman Rd, just over the train tracks. No need to return to Quorn as we enjoyed it’s flavour over the previous two nights. Have to say that the Roo cutlets with quandong sauce was absolutely “magnifico”, or should I say “grouse”.  Tender and tasty and accompanied by a welcome glass of SA red.  Cheers to the Austral pub. Well done (praise to the chef, not how it was cooked, btw).

In Short

Woolshed Flat to Altman Rd Quorn

Distance : 14.54 kms

Duration : 3 hours 13 minutes

Pace : 4.5 kph

Ups and Downs : Gain – 565 mtrs. Loss – 303 mtrs

And…..the rest.

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NATIVE BUSH TUCKER?

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DEVIL’S PEAK

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For all you heritage buffs. What’s this again?

IMG_4727There was once a man named Robert Brown. Born in Scotland. Educated in Edinburgh in the field of medicine, but was more obsessed with natural history.  Somehow he found his way into the employ of Matthew Flinders on the other side of the world,….in Australia.  While Matthew Flinders was attempting to find an inlet into the interior of Australia in the upper Spencer Gulf, he marvelled at the dramatic ridge line and mountains of which piqued his interest for a closer look.  The enimitable Robert Brown went exploring for natural flora and fauna with Flinders and Co in tow, and scaled one of dominant peaks right to the top.   IMG_4641Captain Flinders honoured his resident Naturalist by naming this mountain after him. This is the mountain we will climb today.

We started our trek at the end of Homestead Rd which runs aside Gunyah Creek. as noted in my last post,  It is fortunate though that this “road” exists, as it is one of the few roads to give us access to this part of the trail.

IMG_4678Just as Mount Remarkable was very rocky, so is this trek.  And, just to make it a little more challenging the grass has grown considerably, concealing plenty of potential “sprained ankles” beneath it’s foliage.  Only four or five times did I have a mishap on the loose rocks, saved only by my decent Salomon walking boots.

We wound our way over gentle hills and along Mount Brown creek before starting the first of the steeper climbs towards the summit of Mount Brown. Watch out along the creek as, a Heysen sign or two, are well hidden or missing.  As long as you follow the creek most of the way you should be fine.

IMG_4691The stage from Catninga Tank to the summit is pretty taxing, taking us from 730 mtrs above sea level to the peak at 970 mtrs over a pretty short distance.

The walk is worth it though, with stunning views.  Getting over the rocky outcrop at the top was a bit interesting, as you will see, but once at the top, we had the most perfect spot for lunch. Climb the lookout for the best views.

We had on this day some unusual cloud formations creeping up the mountain enveloping us and disappearing just as quick, and just before we left the summit, a cloud moved in to give a most surreal atmosphere..

IMG_4746The other side of the mountain has a different feel, with a gentle slope (unlike what we just came up) and a winding path through open woodland with plenty of Blackboys, and, if you look close enough tiny wild flowers.  Descending 500 odd metres into the valley floor, we had a pleasant stroll following the creek through to the Pichi Richi railway near Woolshed Flat.  Along the creek near the end the trail is not well marked (a bit overgrown), so keep your GPS or map handy. Once again, not a great issue. Just follow the creek until you reach the bridge.

In Short

Gunyah Creek to Woolshed Flat

Distance : 21.3 kms

Duration : 4 hours 24 minutes

Pace : 4.8 kmh

Ups and Downs :  Elevation Gain = 593 mtrs.  Elevation Loss = 886 mtrs.

And….. the rest

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The last bit before the top of the mountain.

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IMG_4545Heading up the hill shortly after midday, the clear blue sky and sunshine belied the chill in the air, as is often the case during winter in the Flinders.  However, by the time we reached the top of the ridge we were sufficiently warm in spite of that Antarctic chill in the wind.

Leaving Horrock’s Pass without suffering the same fate as poor old Horrock, we trudged on, passed Blackboys and taking in the panorama’s once atop of the hill.  Suddenly a large bird of prey glided silently in front us barely 3 metres above.

IMG_4551What a treat first thing in the morning. Even better.  I believe it is the same type of Kite I had been trying to identify from our Burra walk. Clearly not bothered by our presence, it floated lightly on the breeze long enough for me to snap a few photos.

This walk takes us over rolling hills on the eastern side of the slightly more dramatic western ridge. Gave us great views all afternoon. Mount Remarkable dominated our southern view with Wilmington in the foreground.  Willochra Plain stretching out to the east and that dramatic ridge line to the West. IMG_4603 I found a pretty cool fossilized sea bed with some unusual additions. Love to know what they are. fossilised worms, or sea grass, maybe?

Our end point was always going to be a bit interesting, considering the acute lack of road access to the trail along this section.  I did find a public access road which would take us to the trail, however, it is a road in name only, and I am not entirely sure it is all public access.  Anyway, we did traverse it’s bumpy and slippery way to the top of the ridge adjacent the trail. IMG_4578 Just a smidge under 5 kms of country track in my less than “off road worthy” vehicle, was interesting to say the least.  We made it though, in spite of the various obstacles including a rocky outcrop and barbed wire on the track.

Lots of Kangaroos and Euros again this walk, but not much else in the way of “visible” wildlife (except for the Kite).  Beautiful scenery though. Very typical Aussie bush. Very Heysen.

In Short

Horrocks Pass to top of Homestead Road (track?).

Distance : 13.8 kms

Duration : 2 hours 46 minutes

Pace : 5 kph

Ups and Downs : Gain = 568 mtrs. Loss 391 mtrs

Terrain : Rolling grassy hills.

And the rest…..

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IMG_4154Who would have thought there was a some sort of temporal time/space portal in the Southern Flinders Ranges?  Descending down the stairs at Alligator Gorge you are immediately transported to a typically stunning gorge somewhere in Northern Australia.

Why didn’t I know about this little gem in South Australia? Anyway, here’s the treat.

IMG_4505The still chilled air sits calmly in the silence of this meandering wonderland. Bright ochre cliffs etched and cracked over centuries, stand guard over the world they command. Just as Ali the shepherd did all those years ago looking after his precious flock.

The caressing babble of the creek accompanies you as you explore and absorb the beauty of this rich landscape. Slender trees grow tall reaching for the light, with some seeming to hold back the ever imposing canyon walls. IMG_4518Those same ancient walls give up their solidarity to the greenery that flows from the cracks, softening the hard edges and contrasting those earthy tones.

With older creek beds still visible half way up the gorge walls, and remnants of even older tidal flats on the trail. An ancient landscape revealing it’s secrets from a time before time. Native pines and blackboys keep company amongst the gum’s, while delicate wild flowers and native orchids surprise the senses. So keep a keen eye out for the miniature delights.

IMG_4467Visit the well polished Narrows, with quartz veins running through ochre and blood red walls. Or the easy walk to the Terraces where the natural staircase takes you gently up stream. Perhaps even the longer Loop walk into pristine bushland, where Ali once walked while tending his sheep.

Alligator Gorge is a must see in the Southern Flinders Ranges. My only regret was that I did not spend enough time, just existing in the space. There is a story around every bend, on every trail, and imbedded in every rock.IMG_4498 Just waiting the epiphany that awakens your senses, to the hidden history of our ancient land.

I challenge anyone to visit the Gorge and not be surprised. Personal experiences and comments welcome.

The road into Alligator Gorge is about 1 km south of Wilmington. It is a national park, so don’t forget to get a park permit before you go.

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Fencing with Kangaroos.

IMG_9553Traveling on roads in the Aussie bush, a keen eye is always kept on the road for unexpected events. Cars, trucks, flock of sheep, or a bounding Kangaroo. Everyone of these can cause quite a mess of your car, not to mention threaten your safety.  As it happen the other day while driving on the road to Alligator Gorge, something caught my eye off to my left.  Not enough to feel threatened, but enough for me to pull up once passed the ‘something’, and investigate.  My eyes did not fail me, as I looked back from my car I could see a Kangaroo or Wallaby, and it appeared to be struggling.

Sure enough, it was a Wallaby (or young Kangaroo), and it was in trouble. Laying on it’s side with both legs caught fast, twisted in the fence wire. First thought was to free the poor critter, and after the Kanga gave me a not so friendly growl (yes, Kangaroos do growl), I grabbed the tangle wire and separating them just enough for Kanga to pull his legs out. It Snapshot 2 (20-07-2015 11-15 PM)was only then that I noticed how badly this Kanga was damaged. Both legs were bloodied, and as the Kanga tried to hop away and fell to one side, I noticed that one leg had was worn down to the ligament and to the bone. Ouch! I have to wonder just how long the poor thing had been struggling to get free. Long enough I guess to wear away all of his skin and his flesh. Kanga then tried hopping again, struggling a little further into the bush, before falling again.

It was then that I started thinking about what was the ‘right’ thing to do. Freeing it immediately as I did, or securing it before making any further decisions as to it’s fate.  Was it likely that Kanga would now be ok, being free?  Was it’s leg broken? Would it probably get an infection and die anyway? Would it now be easy prey? Should I have attempted to rescue it and rung someone? Or should I have put it out of it’s misery?

As the Kanga was now some metres away from me and clearly not receptive to my care and concern, the point was now mute.  I returned to my car and resumed my journey. Clearly though, I was now troubled by this encounter. Thoughts ran though my head. My humanistic inner self came up with solutions that my rational realistic self just scoffed at.  As a caring human being, should I have ‘saved’ the poor Kanga, or, should I have, as many would do in the bush, decided that the Kanga would probably not survive and end it’s suffering then and there.

These are the questions I am left with. What would have been more compassionate. To free the injured creature to perhaps survive, or, to end it’s suffering by ending its life then and there? I guess, because of my lack of forethought, I will now never know.

Life in the “real world” can be tough. Our insular lives in the city do not remotely prepare us for such situations. I have grown just a little this day.

IMG_4341No, not real Alligators, just the road into Alligator Gorge.  A little known South Australian gem hidden away in the Southern Flinders Ranges (See future post).  A relatively easy walk today. 15 kms from the gorge road through to Horrocks Pass. The road is sealed into the gorge so no drama’s with any wet weather.

As we are well into the Southern Flinders Ranges, the hills are getting a little more challenging as was evident on our last walk. Today was no different. The upside of course, is the great variety in greenery and the views from the hill tops. There were some classic Aussie bush settings for a walk or a picnic on the way, although quite a trek to get to some of them.

Saw some Emu’s on the way in. They always look so dorky. Real nerds of the animal kingdom. Plenty of IMG_4340Kanga’s too. These last four days I would say I have seen 100+ Kanga’s. No risk of these buggers going extinct.

They were not the only animalia I saw on this trip. I stopped to check out a couple of foxes running across the road, and just as I was returning to my car, I spotted something else aside the road. In the middle of nowhere was a cute little kitty cat. Not a feral, but clearly a long way from home.

IMG_4294This particular week, we had very sad news as everyone in S.A. knows. The pain and shock was felt far and wide, and as the adjacent photo shows, it was felt up here too. RIP Phil.

This walk was challenging enough with the hills but an easy enough 15 kms.  Now, if the 15 kms is not enough for you, there are two other highlights near this walk. Alligator Gorge and Hancocks Lookout.  Check out these two if you have the time. Hancock’s Lookout is a great spot to be at around sunset, with views of the top of the gulf, and Alligator Gorge is just “gorgeous”.  Definitely worth the short walk down the steep steps.

A good friend of mine who lives in Wilmington, promised I would see a white kangaroo in Horrock’s Pass this trip. Four times I visited the Pass over four days with no white kangaroo to be seen. Now she has a photo of the said kangaroo, but I am now starting to question the veracity of her claim. I will return in the near future to attempt to track down the “Ghost Kanga of Horrock’s Pass”. Stay tuned.

In Short :

Alligator Gorge Road to Horrocks Pass

Distance : 15 kms

Duration : 3 hours

Pace : 5 kph

More visions along the way….

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A giant fossilized duck head?

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Great morning for a walk.

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Horrock’s Pass. Is that where I left my beer?

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View from Hancocks Lookout.

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IMG_4273“A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. So Shakespeare said. But in this case, the rose in question on the Heysen Trail, is as sweet as it’s name might imply. Melrose is an everlasting flower sheltered in the bosom of the Southern Flinders Ranges. The original Flinders town, with an Ayre of historical charm, surrounded by cropped fields, and nestled against the dark green shadow of the Remarkable. Yura Muda created the world you now submerse yourself  into, bringing a sense of calm IMG_4258and peace gently on your being as you surrender your soul and free your mind from your distracted sensibilities.  A land of such history unknown, with only subtle hints of it’s fascinating past, of which remain elusive to all but the most astute or spiritually intuitive.

But for those with simpler ambitions, the bush trails offer all measure of pleasure for walking or riding, while the country pubs and cafe’s that sit within the great Aussie landscape await your presence to complete this friendly and relaxed work of art.

IMG_4232Our first trek this week takes us from Melrose up Mount Remarkable and onto Alligator Gorge Rd. Just under 26 kms. It’s a bit of a bypass from our usual linear trekking, always walking consecutive sections from south to north. But Wirrabara Forest is still closed due to the fires last year, and the detour did not present us with a very attractive re-route, with the vast majority of it, on roads from Mills Rd to Murraytown.  So we have catapulted ourselves a little further north this time, and will have to see Wirrabara on another day.

IMG_4251Ice on the windscreen greeted us as we emerged from our cabin just after sunrise on our first day. Clear sky offering the promise of a beautiful day though. Quite a few trekkers were stirring this morning taking good advantage of the decent weather. Though it was cold, we dressed light, and by the time we strolled passed the War Memorial a short way up Mount Remarkable, we were sufficiently comfortable.  I passed by what I believe is the fattest Euro alive. Residing near the caravan park at Melrose, what do you think this Wallaroo was doing at the time? Yep eating, of course.

IMG_4374The first 6+ kms walking this morning is a steady climb up Mount Remarkable. 560 metres up to the summit. Not sure if the mountain has changed height recently because the listed height is 960 metres, but the sign at the top says 995??? Great views though as we climbed, especially from the very rocky scree fields, which opened up a window amongst the trees to reveal the sweeping plains below.  Visible from one of the screes lies the wreckage of a light plane crash from a few years before. Plane VS Mountain? Mountain wins every time. I believe it was very foggy that day.

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Ancient river or sea bed.

Seeing some sandy tracks near the top of the mountain, I wondered if it had once been a sea or river bed, and certainly that was confirmed on finding a fossilised wavy sand bed. Pretty cool!

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This is not the Heysen Trail!

As always when you go up, you must come down, and descend we did quite steeply. The track is wide but very rocky, but you have to expect that on a mountain, as that is what they are made of.  Once we hit the low point in a nice little green gully, we headed off on the flat path aside Spring Creek, soon to realise that we were no longer on the Heysen. It is easy to do when a Heysen post happens to be turned 15°. Thank goodness for our GPS fully loaded with the Heysen trail.

After climbing another hill we wandered down a gentle slope and onto Gray’s Hut. Nice open camping spot with hills all around. Although sparsely appointed, the hut did have the original fireplace as well as one of the most valued facilities in the bush…….”a toilet!” Perfectly placed camp site as well, to take a break for lunch.

IMG_4406The following part of the trail wound it’s way up and down way more hills than the book indicated. Some steep enough to slow us up considerably in pace and in wear and tear (sore feet and blisters).  The trek through rocky creeks and bush was punishing, with loose rocks every where, one of which would bring me undone. I have always been light of foot and stable on my feet, having spent a lot of of my childhood running over rocks at Marino and Hallett Cove. Usually bare foot at that, but this IMG_4410large innocuous rock that I placed my right foot on, rolled immediately, bringing me down on my right thigh and elbow. I think I saw a kangaroo blush from my ensuing language! After regaining my composure and even though I was now battered and bruised, I regained my feet and carried on. In pain, but, as we were more than 10 kms from any road, there really is not any other choice.

Great scenery, and lots of Kangaroos all along the way, but very punishing walk. In total we ended walking a full mile up hill as well as almost a mile down. Just to ensure there was no easy end to this walk, we had another hill right at the end. We were very happy to see my car today, especially because I had cold beers on ice in the boot. It never tasted so good!

In Short

Walk : Melrose to Alligator Gorge Rd.

Distance 25.7 kms

Duration : 6 hrs 1 min

Elevation Gain : 1,626m up.

Elevation Loss 1,540 m down

Pace : 4.3 kph

and the rest…….

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The long walks, you get a bit crazy.

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Best bank I’ve ever been to.

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IMG_4884From the heart of hell, comes the beast. An unstoppable freight train tearing through the bush consuming all in it’s path. The aftermath of the unforgiving violence is a scarred blackened land which gives no clue to the life that once was. The acrid smell burning your nostrils and insulting your tastebuds. But emerging from the ashes, the phoenix is already rising again, ever so slowly, and it will surely heal the blackened scars from this IMG_4981Australian bushfire.

Wirrabara Forest suffered such an event recently and has been closed to hikers for some time.  This is our first opportunity to walk the Heysen Trail through the forest.  We had walked on further north reaching Quorn in our time waiting for the forest to re-open.

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Mills road

Leaving from the corner of Mills and Youngs roads, we walked the gently sloped road, briefly chatting to a friendly lady tending her garden in the bright morning sunshine. In spite of the calender telling us it is still winter, this was a typical spring day.  Brisk cool morning air in the bright warm sunshine. The very best of weather in South Australia.  The road soon disappeared and we headed off onto the bush track heading towards Wirrabara Forest.  The slow climb took us above 400 metres traveling through a valley before climbing to the ridge for some speckie views.  Many of the hikers choose to split this walk, taking the side track through to Wirrabara Forest HQ, however, we have decided to walk the full length of the forest, straight through to Block Nine road.  33+ kms in all.  A challenging days walk, but once committed, there is no turning back.

IMG_5019Speaking of challenges, there are a few hills taking us above  six and seven hundred metres this trek.  Almost as punishing as the Mount Remarkable walk we did recently, but at least most of these tracks were good.  Fire tracks almost all the way.

Each hill in itself was not too much of a stretch, but the number of ups and downs would surely test anyone’s fitness.

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A very “Blackboy” with whiskers

As is the case every where else in this region, it was green from winters rain.  However this only contrasted even more so, the blackness of the scarred trees standing silently in the bare landscape. Only the quietest of whispers in the breeze.  Not even a twitter or a chirp was to be heard from the lifeless branches stripped of their flesh.  Life had left the forest, it had seemed.

As we walked deeper into the forest, amongst the devastation, we started seeing signs of life returning.  Gums sprouting new growth. IMG_4994Charred  Blackboys with green whiskers, and the scratching’s of Echidnas in the massive ant hills occasioned on the trail.  Then just as we have seen on so many walks, out hopped our iconic friend, “Mr Kangaroo”.  Stopping for a moment as if to say hello, before dissolving once again into the mosaic of the Aussie bush.  As if staged in a play, just for us.

The delights continued as we looked closer with wild flowers blooming with pride.  IMG_4992Bursting with confidence in the sun, with all of the colour and splendour worthy of any worldly monarch.  A king or queen of colour in a muted green and mottled world.

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Our new Heysen Trail friend. Roger. Standing on my left I see Roger.

As we have walked the trail over these past few years, our knowledge of the animal tracks we see increases with each walk. Kangaroo, “and a big one at that”, we would exclaim.  Or the Echidna with his tell tale sharper claws.  One set of tracks today made me stop and wonder.  These were a little less natural, and were clearly very recent and appeared to be of a newish pair of hiking boots. Fresh they were. Not more than a day old, and most likely from this very morning we mused, pretending to be the most experienced trackers of a bygone era.  However, as we crested one of the many hills that day, a sight that had eluded us on the many kilometres of the Heysen so far (with the exception perhaps of the trail around Mount Lofty), there was, “another Heysen walker!”  IMG_5051Wow!  In over 800 kilometres this had never happened before.  We had tried previously to catch up to my older sister and bro inlaw, Sharon and Michael, who were powering on ahead on the trail. Probably in spite of us.  Their tenacity and discipline in walking the Heysen Trail is truly inspiring (apparently was to me anyway).

So, Roger, whom we stopped to chat to, and who greeted us with, “Eyesonbrowne” (was clearly aware of who we were), was I think just as happy to see us as we were to see him on the trail. IMG_5070 So, thanks Roger.  One for being on the trail that day, so I had someone else to talk to besides Grant(more for Grant’s benefit I’m sure). Two, for reading this blog, and three, for giving Grant and I some topics to mull over and discuss on our way.  Thanks for the chat, and thanks for the “full moon” scheduling strategy. It was only later that we realised it was a full moon that night (yes I know, I didn’t get that at the time). Hope you finished up before dark. I am still not sure where you were finishing up? Can you let me know?

IMG_4980Very few parts of the forest were not affected by the fire.  Hill after hill, and as far as we could see had been burnt out.  I guess only time will repair the damage.  One consolation though from the cleared forest was the views over the Port Pirie and the upper gulf.  A bit hazy this day but still a great view.

It was good to see greenery and animals returning, even though only in small numbers. The absence of birds was quite chilling. Makes the forest very very quiet.  We did eventually see a couple of galahs (no not our reflection in creek) a bit later, squarking and carrying on as they do.

IMG_5037This was a tough walk to do in one hit, however it was good to test our preconceived physical limits.  We have now set a new personal benchmark walking the trail. The pain endured on this journey was softened at the end of the day with a lovely meal at Café de Laura. Tasty Salt and Pepper squid swimming with Garfish and prawns, accompanied by a nice Bundaleer Pinot Gris.  And, if that was not enough, Grant brought along a very smooth aged Scotch for after’s. (how old was it Grant?)  I didn’t feel a thing till morning!

In Brief

Walk : Mills Road to Block Nine Road through Wirrabara Forest.

Distance : 33.7 kms

Duration : 6 hours 34 mins (walking time)

Pace : 5.1 kph

Ups and Downs : Gain 1965 metres.  Loss 1801 metres.

And a few more pics…..

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IMG_4021 The cool air bites, as the early morning sun pierces through the bright blue sky, with a promise of the warmth to come. The silence pervades the land and seems to dominate and inhabit every perceivable space without, and within. The moment you exit your bubble within known time and space, you embrace the world as it is, just at the moment, that it is. This is, the Aussie bush. Welcome to the Heysen Trail.

We arrived late in the afternoon at Georgetown, just as the friendly general store owners were IMG_4078packing away the signs and cafe chairs.  We had just enough time to warm up our legs with a 5km stroll from Noonans Rd through the town and onto the end of Slaughterhouse Road.  I did wonder whether there was a “slaughter house”, or perhaps there had been some unfortunate mass crime in the distant past. As Grant mentioned at the time, “well, still waters do run deep in S.A”. Hmmm Indeed.

I did laugh, however at the (obviously) poor photo I took of the street sign, which turned a morbid IMG_3953place into a place of cheer. If only I really did have that power!

Day two saw us head off into the rolling hills between Georgetown and Crystal Brook. Pretty easy going this walk and although not as interesting once we hit the roads, Rocky River and the ruins gave us a nice spot to take a break.

The trail runs through the caravan park at Crystal Brook and would have been an ideal place to stay as this was one of our start/finish points. We did however stay in a neat little cottage in Gladstone for the two nights. Conyningham cottage. Well appointed for most, including families with a mini play park in the back yard, and some very interesting old stuff inside. Very comfortable warm beds which we did appreciate. after a days walk.

IMG_4098Be wary along the caravan park as the Heysen signs seem to be rather sparse in this section, and as we would find out on the following day, the golf course as well.

The actual “Crystal Brook” we followed for quite a way, was quite a surprise. Beautiful river scenes from Bowman Park onwards. One of the original settlements in the area, Bowman Park is a little gem in this often sparse landscape. Great place for picnic or BBQ.

IMG_4119We found a bar “Haps Hoochie” in the middle of the bush adjacent the “Brook”. Pity the pub had run dry, and the publican was absent. Oh well, onwards we marched, onto Wilkins Highway and turning north again onto more dirt roads. Going to need a bit more padding in the shoes soon. These hard limestone roads are giving my feet a pounding.

After climbing up a few hills to the top of the ridge, we followed Youngs  road all the way to Mills road. It got a bit cold and windy on the ridge so I got to try out my new hat. No more cold ears for me.

IMG_4088In Short :

Walk : Noonans Rd near Georgetown to Mills rd near Beetaloo.

Distance : Day One, 5.7kms. Day Two, 22.3kms. Day Three, 22.5kms.

Duration : Day One, 64 mins. Day Two, 3hrs 50mins. Day Three, 4hrs 2mins.

Pace : Day One, 6.1kph. Day Two, 5.7kph. Day Three, 5.6kph.

Best Part : Bowman Park to Wilkins Hwy.

And the rest…..

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Two old men on the porch.

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Always looks good at the end of a walk. Especially good this day. Anyone wanna buy? Gonna need a 4wd soon.

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Rocky Creek ruins

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IMG_3809The Australian azure, filled our view, dissolving all thought. Chilled mid north air welcomed us to reality. The simplicity of the Aussie country side, rescuing my spirit from the 21st century sarcoma on my soul.

The soil has been tilled with it’s richness on display. The recent rains have tinged the remaining land with green.  New life and old, basking in the Autumn sun, while echo’s of the past still resist the inevitability of time. Walking the less traveled road along fields of hope and creeks of promise.  Wandering the ancient valley amidst a brood of Blackboys.  We once again immerse ourselves, in the Heysen trail.

The first walk for 2015 saw us just north of Bundaleer Dam. A beautiful sunny day with a cool breeze.  20 K’s for the first day to Neindorf rd adjacent Bundaleer IMG_3782Forest.   The original route through Bundaleer Forest Reserve is still closed due to the fire a few years back, and it has not yet been re-opened. So it is a re-route with extra K’s for this, our first walk.  A fairly easy walk though, with few hills on the first day, and with another new year, Grant also has another new pair of boots.   I’m sure he has every brand of hiking boot available by now I would be guessing.

IMG_3811One of the valleys we walked through was filled with thousands of Blackboys (Grasstrees).  This was a bit eerie, especially with one watching us as we passed by. “Invasion of the body snatchers” anyone?

The walking on this stretch was fairly easy. Gentle slopes on dirt roads and  tracks through valleys and rolling hills. We ended up adjacent Bundaleer Forest at Neindorf Rd at the end of the first day. As is customary on our walks, we celebrated with a nice cold beer back at the pub.  The Barbed Wire Hotel in Spalding had the best tasting beer, I swear. Funny how it always tastes so good after a walk.  A big shout out to John, Anne and Margaret, who we had dinner with that night. Three of the End to End group walkers on the trail that weekend. Thanks for a great chat.

Day two was a little more challenging with a few hills and ridge walking. Great views though of the surrounding plains and valleys. One of the valleys had a fair few Heysen markers down on this walk, so I was pleased we had the GPS.

We pushed on passed all of the cars parked at this section’s end to end point to finish up a few K’s out of Georgetown.   A quiet little place with a pub and a general store, and plenty of history.

In Short

Day One

The Walk: The Old School (near Bundaleer Dam) to Neindorf Rd Bundaleer Gardens

Duration: 3 hrs 48 mins (walking time)

Distance: 22 kms

Pace: 5.8 kms per hr

Terrain: Gentle slopes. Roads and (at times) narrow tracks

Best Part: “Blackboy Valley”

Day Two

The Walk: Neindorf Rd Bundaleer Gardens to Noonans Rd

Duration: 4 hrs 17 mins (walking time)

Distance: 24 kms

Pace: 5.6

Terrain: Roads and paddocks along ridges and in vallleys.

Best Part: The views from the ridge.

 

Scene’s along the way:

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Echo's of the past

Echo’s of the past

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Valley of the Blackboys

 

How Aussie can you get!

How Aussie can you get!

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Barbed Wire pub

 

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