It was pretty foggy today for our Heysen Trail walk, and a little spooky. Almost no wind and very foggy. It could have been a scene out of Twilight walking through the dense woodland.
Forecast for 17°C with the chance of a shower. It was however much cooler than that. Felt like about 10°C, but the rain stayed away and there was only light wind at times.
Our start from the Mount lofty Golf Course was pretty easy, although two steps on the trail gave us muddy boots and lower trousers. The trail took us into Woodhouse camp ground used a lot by the Scouts in the past.
From here we soon headed into the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens. Absolutely beautiful. We only had time to walk through one of the paths. It would be worth a separate trip just on it’s own. Lots of natives and some great examples of trees and plants from all other parts of the world.
We have never seen so many people on the trail as today. The fact that we were crossing the “Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty” trail probably had something to do with it. On most days it is like Main St with hundreds of people on it! It would have to be the most popular walking/running trail in Adelaide. Walking/running/fitness groups all use this trail to Mount Lofty. For those not from Adelaide, Mount Lofty is the tallest mountain in the Mount Lofty Ranges adjacent to the metropolitan area.
The other groups we saw were the “Trailblazers” running from Norton Summit on the Yurrebilla trail through to Eagle on the Hill and beyond. It was interesting to see the early runners who looked fit and confident, but as we travelled the path in the opposite direction the runners looked more and more distressed. Well, totally shagged would be a more accurate description. Especially the last few.
This area was hit by the very devastating Ash WednesdayBush-fires” in 1983. While some of the scars still show, the bush has recovered as it always does. I noticed however, that there is regular burn-off’s now around here to keep the fuel load down. We certainly do not want a repeat of those fires.
I still remember seeing the hills on fire from the city centre. Many from overseas at the time thought that Adelaide city was surrounded by fire, and to be honest that is what it kinda looked liked. The smoke was visible over various areas of the hills from north to south including seeing the actual flames flashing in the smoke at a distance of about 20 kms. It was quite unnerving. At the time it felt a bit surreal, but it did’nt take long to realise that the Adelaide hills were actually on fire!
If you are walking this trail be mindful of the Heysen trai l markers. It gets a bit confusing around Mount Lofty. The main trail takes you through the Botanic Gardens and then around Mount Lofty. There is an alternative route when the Botanic Gardens is closed, which takes you straight to the top of Mount Lofty. If you are not careful you can end up circling around and end up back where you started.
When you reach the “T’ junction at the Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty trail, to continue on the Heysen trail to Norton Summit, you need to turn left down the mountain, and not up towards the summit. Unless ofcourse you want to check out the great views from the top. Just remember to go back down the Mountain on the sea side to resume your journey.
The track from here to Horsnell Gully Conservation Park is wide and mostly flat, so is pretty easy walking. It is all bush through here with very few vistas. The only wildlife we have seen this trip are birds. Saw some very cool Kookaburra’s, and some finches, but most were very camera shy.
Horsnell Gully Conservation Park saw us descending over 200 mtrs to the bottom of the Gully. The one bad thing about walking down hill is that you probably will have to walk up hill on the other side! This is of course what we had to do. The “ascent” was about 150 mtrs, and we felt every step of it. This is always hard to do near the end of a walk with sore and tired legs and feet.
Now the trail guide says that the distance from the Botanic Gardens to Norton Summit is 14 kms. Our start point was a bit over 2 kms to the Gardens, so our journey should have been 17 kms + a bit extra for the ups and downs. (the guide does not take the elevation into account for distances). However, mapping out the route on Google maps gives us a distance of 22 kms. 5 kms is a big discrepancy when planning a walk. But based on our usual walking speed (4 kms) of which most of this trek we would have easily done, I am inclined to trust Google Maps over the Guide.
Either that or we were total slackers with our walking speed. My feet certainly felt like it was the longer distance. I think before next walking season I will invest in a new pair of hiking boots. My trusty 10 year old Timberlands have just about had their day.
There were some pretty cool old settlement ruins at the bottom of Horsnell Gully/Giles Conservation Parks. After checking out the ruins we trudged up the hill before winding our way on the Old Norton Summit Rd to Norton Summit, where we stopped for a chat with Sir Thomas Playford. He is not very talkative these days. Must be a bit bronzed off I think!
Mount Lofty Golf Course to Norton Summit
Distance : 22 kms
Terrain : Mostly good wide dirt tracks with only two major steep sections. Very major!
Speed : 4 kms walking speed. 3.6 kms including breaks.
Best Parts : Botanic Gardens and the Ruins at Giles Conservation Park.
The rest of the journey in pictures;