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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