Tag Archive: Bush walking


IMG_6644The night before our walk, Malcolm was doing his best to warn (or scare) us about the walk through to Eyre Depot. He had heard many a tale of heart ache and tears, so just in case there was a smidge of truth to his tales, we decided to leave a little earlier giving us sufficient time for any unforseen outcomes. (code for stuff ups and slip ups).

We managed a pre 8am start at Buckaringa Gorge in the cool and cloudy morning.  Armed with plenty of equipment for the day. Variable clothing to cope with Melbourne type weather (You know, four season in one day), topographic maps, Heysen book, GPS, and plenty of food and water.  We headed off with much confidence that we could tackle anything this day, and as it turned out, we needed most of what we took.

IMG_6641A stroll through the Gorge soon brought us into a creek bed again, and like the obstacle course on the previous day, it slowed us up considerably.  Again.

A few gems along the way though with a white Kangaroo stopping to say hello,  some interesting rock formations and plenty of flora with splashes of colour among the green and ochre. We made our way in and out of the creek meandering uphill slowly but surely.

IMG_6596The five K mark rescued us from the creek and we headed up the hill above 500 metres. Up another hill, and up another hill, until finally atop the ridge which would take us all the way to Mount Arden, 12 K’s in from the Gorge.

The panoramic views in all directions opened up bit by bit as we topped each hill.  The higher we got the windier it got also. We had been warned that the ridge is windy and usually in spite of any calm weather down below.  So we were prepared with arctic style tops to fend off the icy blasts.

IMG_6691The ridge meandered left and right and up and down a little, before the final push up above 800 metres, to the summit of Mount Arden.  At the top the wind was even more intense and absolutely relentless.  It was only a short stay at the peak, to catch our breath and snap a few photo’s, before descending down the southern slope back to a more tepid temperature.

The drop is quite dramatic, but very tiring. I certainly would not want to be going up this section though.

IMG_6748 Just after we saw horizontal ground again, the terrain opened up to a lazy creek with majestic old Gum’s and what looked like manicured lawn area’s either side. Every bit the public city park, but smack dab in the middle of the bush.

This is Mount Arden South camp site, and was very clear why it was here.  Fantastic spot, so we stopped for a break, having lunch and resting in the natural beauty of the surrounds.

IMG_6767We headed off again refreshed, and wandering along the idyllic creek setting, we were easily lulled into the comfort zone in these gentle surrounds.

The easy walking was not to last though. After a few more K’s the terrain turned back to the “obstacle course” of rocky tracks and in and out of the creek again. It seemed to go on for like, “evar”.  Pretty dramatic scenery, but pretty wild I have to say, and one of our more challenging walks.

IMG_6782Just when we thought we were nearing the end, the trail took us up the side of a very steep hill. So steep it had rope to hang onto. Great view at the top, but at this point we were a bit shagged to really care too much.  Once back in the creek we meandered our way through the canyon until coming to a rather steep waterfall. No water flowing over it, however it was much too steep to climb down, so we back tracked to where the trail actually IMG_6596leads up the hill and around the falls.

A rocky dirt road (twisted my ankle here) took us eventually out of the hills and onto the plain at Eyre Depot.

The last 3 kms to the car seemed like the longest leg though. Funny how it is quite regularly the case.

Ps. The gate that we had passed through at Eyre Depot to drop the car off, now had a sign saying, “Trespassers will be prosecuted”.

The walk in to Eyre Depot is now 6 kms, not the 3 that we did.  Best bet though if you are not doing an overnighter would be to get Malcolm from the Argadell’s to take you through Thompson’s Gap for a drop off or pick up.

In Short

Buckaringa Gorge to Eyre Depot

Distance : 27 kms (with an additional  3 km walk out)

Duration : 7 hours 1 min walking time. 2 hours 12 mins worth of breaks.

Pace : 4.3 kph

Terrain : Track (20%), steep hills/ridges(30%), and creek walking(50%).

And…….the rest

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Only three more hills before Mount Arden. Or was it four, or five?

 

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There is that song again. “and those big black birds they were circling in the sky”.

 

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Argadell’s from Mount Arden

 

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Looking north along the trail from north of Mount Arden

 

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Now where did I leave the car?

 

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Our Hosts for the weekend

 

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It was very windy on the ridge. You need to dress warm for the occasion.

 

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Lovely day for a stroll. Pity this view did not last.

 

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Looking down the valley towards Eyre Depot, way off in the distance.

 

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Grant and his lizards again.

 

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Almost looks like the shape of my old Holden panel van.

 

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The all seeing eye!  Ancient rock carving, or natural formation?

 

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Can you see the cat in this rock pattern?

 

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Just before sunset, we headed off in the car. Tired but satisfied.

 

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IMG_6522We arrived in the dark on a dusty red track with thick scrub all around.  An old blue tractor lit up in our headlights as we came upon the open grassy spread at the Homestead.  It was only in the early morning light on the following morning that the dark veil was lifted revealing the oasis that is the Argadell’s. A picturesc Flinders property to relax and explore. More about the Argadell’s later.

IMG_6548This trip will see us do two days of quite challenging walking.  The logistics of start finish points without doing an overnighter is, well, also challenging.  Our agreed plan was to walk from Eyre Depot to Dutchman’s Stern on day one, and then walk from Buckaringa Gorge back to Eyre Depot on day two. We will leave my car at Dutchman’s Stern and then drive to Eyre Depot, leaving my trusty companion’s car there for the day and overnight. The following day we will drive to Buckaringa Gorge, before walking back to Eyre Depot where Grant’s car would still be waiting (we hoped). Simple enough, and to our surprise, it also worked. Go figure!

IMG_6560A 3 km walk-in to the Heysen trail to start at Eyre Depot got us warmed up for todays trek. Not that it was needed as this section of the trail is challenging enough without the extra K’s. We strode along adjacent the ranges with the plain stretching out along our right, almost as far as we could see. The salt bush only giving way to the occasional depression of the  salt lakes.  It wasn’t long before Grant, (the lizard magnet), nearly squished a bearded dragon underfoot. Completely missing it visually as well as orthopedically!

IMG_6577Our direction and landscape soon changed as we headed into the foothills with some moderate climbs along the track. It wasn’t too long before we left the pretty rugged fire track only to enter a pretty rugged creek bed. This creek trail was to be our companion for most of today’s walk, and I use the term “trail” only very loosely.  Now deep into the canyon ,we heard some crashing through the bush and some bleating going on. thinking it was some harmless wild goats just looking for a feed, we took no heed.

Suddenly though we were ambushed by IMG_6605what I can only describe as, a small agile group of “terrorist” goats, who attempted to “take us out” by rolling boulders onto our heads. If it were not for my lightness of foot, I would have copped one shoulder height. It was big enough to do some serious bone crunching, flesh tearing damage. I can clearly move quickly when my life is in danger it would appear.

One of the goats(clearly on recon) trailed us for the next 3 or so kms, before clearing off over a hill, once we had id’d him in a clearing.

IMG_6610Anyway, we struggled on over boulders, loose stones, trees, and rocky ledges. It was slow going heading upstream towards the Dutchman’s Stern, but once into the guts of it, there is no turning back. Tough as it is though at times, it is always amazing.

Still a bit of water in the creek with life abundant. Including lots of taddies. Truly amazing that frogs can survive here over the long months without rain, only to spawn thousands of tadpoles when it does rain. Very cool.

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Essentials for walking.

The trail got steeper and more cumbersome before we finally emerged up a steep incline onto a much more civilised track.  Once out of the creek we paused to reflect our journey so far.

After cooling off with a head soaking, and with the Stern now in full view we paced out the last few kms on the road to the Dutchman’s Stern accommodation.  With numerous Kangaroos , just lazing about with the family waiting for us to take their photo’s, we said hi, snapped a few, and walked on.

IMG_6624The car park which was only 3 dozen paces away was where my lonely car was waiting with a very special cargo inside. Two ice cold beers!  They always taste good at the end of a walk and sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps me going over the last few K’s.  It’s the old carrot trick. Self imposed I know, but it works every time.

This walk was tougher than it looked on paper. Would have been easier walking the other way, but was not an option for us. If you can manage the logistics, I would suggest walking from the Stern to Eyre Depot.

In Short

Eyre Depot to Dutchman’s Stern

Distance : 17 kms (with an additional  3 km walk in)

Duration : 4 hours 15 mins walking time. 1 hour 17 min worth of breaks.

Pace : 4.7 kph

Terrain : Undulating hills(25%), steeper hills(20%), and creek walking(55%).

And…….the rest

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Off the plain and into the hills.

Terrorist goats hideout.

Terrorist goats hideout.

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That’s what we have just walked through.

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Eyre Depot walk in gate

 

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Rounding the Stern

 

 

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View from Bridle Gap. Not that Grant was interested.

Still a little sore from our previous day’s epic 34k walk. However, our spirits are high with our task today to conquer the “Wilpena wall” and for me to revisit Ikara after a 39 year absence. A meeting place for sure. A convergence of time and memory.  Our journey today takes us from Moralana Drive through Blacks Gap, up the wall of Wilpena and into the Pound via Bridle Gap. 15 kms to finish off a week of Heysen trail walking in the Flinders.

 

IMG_6138Vague memories flood back as we wander the trail. Mostly not memories at all, just feelings and sensations of familiarity. A sense of comfort. Like coming home after a long journey.  The connection through time though, cannot be explained, only experienced.  The heart of this land clearly lives within me. Though I only dwell in this reality for short periods of time, my soul appears to be connected to the land.

 

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Looking back at Blacks Gap

Black Gap road, broad and flat, soon transforms into Bunbiniyunna creek. I guess not too surprising as the creeks are the highways of the bush. The walls either side soon steepen as we reach further into the gap.  Familiar colours return beneath our feet and by our sides. The richness of this natural gallery on show in the cool silence of the morning. Only a sliver of light and warmth penetrating into the depths of this ancient bed.

 

We soon emerged from the creek, bathed in full sun and slightly daunted by the scale of the climb ahead. Little did we know that what we could see, was hiding the hardest part of the climb.

old and newOn the narrow path on the side of the hill, I travelled back in time. Once again amongst my peers from Seacombe High. Our very fashionable 70’s gear seeming out of place in this environment, but also, just out of place!  But a sense of wonder, along with blissful ignorance of youth made this a great time.

IMG_6150We paced steadily up the hill, stopping briefly at a ridge or two to catch our breath and admire the steadily expanding view.  The track to the top is a little vague at times along this section. In scrubby bush, we meandered on and off the trail, keeping a keen eye on our GPS.  Looking back at one stage I noticed something a little different about one of the Heysen signs I had just passed.  Ordinarily, the arrow points up to indicate straight ahead, yet this one was pointing straight down. Intentional or not, I loved the humour of the directional indication.

IMG_6158Breaching the top of Bridle Gap, with the entry to the park boldly etched in the space, we paused to reflect on our journey from the Elders. Mount Alec and the receding ridge standing tall in our view. It only seemed like yesterday that, ….. Oh that’s right, it was just yesterday.

Looking forward now, and gazing at the ridge to our right we noticed some movement. Contrasted against the bright blue was a very healthy goat, standing proud atop the ridge.

IMG_6196Off again after a short break, with the environment changing around us. Scrubby trees slowly giving way to taller native Pines, and eventually stately Gums dispersed in the manicured grassy land. Lazy Kangas and Wallabies not fussed by our presence, with only the slightest of a stoic glance, soon return to their languid tasks.

Almost as flat as a “Bundaleer pitch” and as curated as a city park, the path wandered though the Pound ending up at the old homestead.  We paused to take in a bit of the history before walking the final few kms to the visitor centre and the car park.

A coffee at the visitor was very civil (it was a bit early for a beer), and a bit of lunch finished off a very pleasant mornings walk.

In Short

Walk : Moralina Drive to Wilpena Pound

Distance : 14.77 kms

Pace : 4.5 kph

Duration : 3 hours 15 minutes

And the rest……

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Bridle Gap

 

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Just before descending below the tree line – Wilpena Pound

 

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Omlette for 6, perhaps. (Emu egg)

 

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Wilpena homestead.

 

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IMG_6062Today will be a big day. 30 kilometre walk with a 1.5 k walk in through Mayo Gorge. Walking past the majestic Elder Range, we will be trekking through the amazing Arkaba Station. Stunning views, ever changing geology and plenty of wildlife.  We will end up at Moralana Drive in between two Titans of the Flinders. Elder Range and Wilpena Pound.

A nice cold 6° and sunny this morning, with “sinister” clouds creeping over the imposing Elder Range.  A fresh road kill on the Outback Highway was breakfast to a pair of very impressive Wedge tailed Eagles, as our driver Kym, shared his experience climbing Elder Range.

IMG_6040Feeling a little pensive about our walk today though. I was not feeling particularly well yesterday and with the pending 30 kms through some pretty remote country side, I was not feeling as confident as usual.  We were well prepped though, with a days rest before and carrying extra gear and water for any unforseen events. My good lady had also given me some sound advice if we get lost and run out of food. “Eat Grant first” she said. My wife the ultimate survivor!

IMG_6048Fear though, is a funny thing. It is always important to take note of your feelings, but check that the fear is based on something real, and not just an irrational thought.   Clearly I was just feeling a bit off, as once we actually got going, all seemed to be ok.

Heading east up Mernmerna creek from Mayo Gorge, we wandered in the creek as we did in Wonoka .   The northern edge of Elder Range already quite impressive, followed our left as we snaked along the creek for the next four k’s.

IMG_6053A Wedgy perched atop a nearby hill watched intently as we passed by. Waiting, I am sure, for us to stumble and fall, so he could pick our bones clean.   A song popped into my head just at that moment, “The Holy Grail”. That particular line, “And those big black birds, they were circling in the sky”. (Betcha you are singing it right now too).  Kinda felt appropriate with the Wedgy watching and waiting, as well as the fact we are on a quest for our own “holy grail”.   It stayed in my head for quite a few k’s.

IMG_6058The left hand turn out of the creek was always going to be hard to find, so we kept a keen eye on our distance travelled, and the map.   A bloody big fat old Gum with a very little Heysen sign marked our exit from the creek. A short break  was in order before venturing up the hill though. We were not looking to break any speed records today.   Into Arkaba Station we went. Over the hill and following the track for a while before taking a right down the hill and into a creek again. This time it was Slaty Creek. IMG_6067

Gums and native pines abound with Kanga’s and Wallabies plentiful in this marsupial haven. Steep hills keep watch over the creeks and the gorges, with the ever present Elder Range imposing itself over the entire area.

The occasional stone fireplace still standing as a reminder of a  harsher life. The earthy tones continue through the creeks with the surrounding hills contrasting ochre, tawny, and pine against the vivid blue.   Smaller creatures, mostly hidden, reveal themselves on occasion.

IMG_6094A young bearded dragon narrowly escaping a hungry crow, while we narrowly miss walking into a massive Orb weaver strategically strung across our path, just waiting for a delirious Heysen Trail walker to stumble in.  Face height, I came to within 20 cms of wearing this very ornate eight legged face jewellery.

The creek is pretty easy walking, although following every meander did get a bit tiring. Heysen signs are a bit scarce through here and as it turned out my GPS sent us a little awry out of IMG_6099Slaty creek and into a feeder creek heading the wrong way. Took us 30+ minutes to work out what happened and to get back on track. Very easy to get lost in this hilly landscape. They all look the same. Even checking our direction was no help as the creeks meander from west, to north, then to east again in every kilometre.

After a stop for lunch we, strode on keeping a keen eye on trail markers, GPS, and the map. We were now a bit behind time, and needed to make up some ground to get to Moralana Drive before dark.

IMG_6100I started hearing voices at one point, and in this sacred landscape, thought my spiritual ancestors were breaking through to speak to me, but alas, it was just Red Range camp site, and there was a quite a group.  Chatting and having a great time.  Now, ordinarily we would be stopping for a chat, but no time to waste today.  With this being only our half way point, we picked up the pace.

We paced up hills, through creeks, traversed gully’s and battled through scrubby trees, until we came to the “garden of stones”.

IMG_6113Perfect place to pull up a rock and rest our bunions.  The hills we now traversed were comprised of compacted red stone chips, which were devoid of all but the hardiest of plants. How the hell does anything grow in this stuff?

A little further along we crested a hill, and the wonderful Wilipena Pound came into view, meaning we were on the home stretch (albeit a long one).  A few more gentle hills and we made our way to the car park at Moralana drive.

Seated between Wilpena and the Elders, we rested our weary bones. A little sore and a bit fatigued, but mind at ease in the peace and tranquillity of the Flinders.

IMG_6305Every thing at peace, except maybe for our taste buds. The crisp bite from that first sip of amber joy, ruminating throughout my body in repeating waves. Ahhhhhhh.

It’s easy to understand the spirituality of this place. As we sat quietly between the majestic Urdlu Warlpunha, and Ikara in the fading light, we breathed in the  very soul of this most ancient of lands. Easy to do, especially after a beer.  It’s the simple things really. Life on the trail.

In Short

Mount Little Station to Moralana Drive

Distance : 31.5 kms  (we walked 34kms due to slight detour)

Pace : 4.8 kph

Duration : 7 hours 33 minutes

Calories burned : 4442!!!!!

And a couple extra….

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Mount Aleck

 

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Elder Range (in full)

 

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Mernmerna Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_5886Day two in the Flinders Ranges. Crisp cool morning. Clear blue sky. I noticed a couple of clouds to the west just as we drove into Mount Little Station. A reminder of the previous days weather.  A lovely spot for camping here at MLS, and Kate whom we had the pleasure to meet, greeted us with typical country hospitality. MLS is the closest accessible road to the Heysen Trail on this section, so here we are.  Mike picked us up at the end of the road near Mayo’s Gorge, returning to Leigh Creek Road for the start of our walk. Ps. Thanks Mike for both days drop off’s.

IMG_5892(Leaving the old wagon, we climbed the stile and headed off on the trail, only to take a short break at the original Wonoka homestead. Beautiful stone work with a myriad of colours, with the Yourambulla Ranges in the back ground providing a memorable connection to todays story.

The road meandered through salt and blue bush before we stumbled into the expansive Wonoka Creek. Littered with pebbles and sand, and Redgums scattered in and out of the creek. Wononka hill and the Wide Range giving us a wonderful backdrop for the day.

IMG_5894Once in the creek, we turned north, up-stream, or so we thought.  Funny how your senses can occasionally deceive. We were on the trail, but we thought we were heading up stream. Quite clearly the river bed was telling us something quite different. Dead trees and debris on the oncoming side of the river trees, and a sand bank on the trailing edge. Clearly we were heading downstream. It just did not feel like it.

IMG_5949We wandered in and out of the creek, where ever the path looked easiest. The Heysen trail follows the creek all the way to Mayo’s Gorge, so little chance of losing the trail. Except maybe for the spot that Wononka Creek takes sharp left, with a feeder creek going straight ahead. Could have ended up in the Wide Ranges.

export1Beautiful country with Gums along the river and plenty of green salt bush filling in the surrounds. Still a few skittish Emu’s and Kanga’s not being particularly sociable, heading for the hills at first sight. Did I put on deodorant this morning? Starting to wonder.

The amazing palette of colours in the river bed was stunning. Copper, Amethyst, Azure, Ochre, and Sandstone. Decorating the walls and splashed across the river bed in all manner of fashion. As if a Kindy class had gone crazy with their crayons, or a few thousand Oompa Lumpa’s had died and been sedemented.

IMG_5965Mayo Hut was well appointed, with bunks (with mattresses), a fire place, and even a “loo”. Oh what luxury!  Being at Mayo’s hut means that we are almost done. Another couple of “K’s” and we exit through Mayo’s Gorge where Grant’s car is waiting with a nice cold beer. The Gorge was lovely, although lots of jaggard rocks to walk over at the start. Once at the car, we propped up the chairs, cracked open a beer, and just took in the the majestic Elder Range in the late afternoon sun. Cheers Grant.

In Short

Leigh Creek Road to Mount Little Station.

Distance : 16.1 kms

Pace : 4.9 kms

Duration : 3 hours, 16 mins

Calories burned : 1934

Elevation : Gain = 247 mtrs. Loss 680 mtrs. (Yep going down hill along the creek)

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And, the rest…….

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Holy Crap! A huge snake rearing up! Oh. It’s ok. Just a piece of wood. Nearly soiled my pants again.

 

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Mayo Gorge

 

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The view from my beer. Elder Range.

IMG_5851We arrived early in the afternoon on a wet and windy day, with something you don’t see very often out here.  Rain, and we saw plenty of it on our way north. Hawker had received 18+mm in a couple of days, which is great for everyone in the bush. It was relatively dry when we arrived, but the wind was still gusting above 50kmh as we would realise when we got to the top of the ridge.

IMG_5841A short walk today of 9 kms, from Jarvis Hill to Leigh Creek Rd. Half of the walk was along the ridge of the Yourambulla Ranges.  Climbing the rocky ridge to the lookout, with a panoramic view opening up before us, we shifted our city brains out of gear and just allowed our minds to take in the pleasures of the Heysen trail.  A valley to the left gave rise to another ridge standing tall and keeping ours company on the journey north. To the right the flat plain stretched out with incursions of hills, peaks, and ridges seemingly placed delicately to give an interesting view.

IMG_5858The rocky ridge line jutting out at a 30+ degree angle was not the easiest to walk on, particularly when it is a little wet and the wind is trying to blow you off the mountain, repeatedly.

A classic rock overhang gave us some brief respite before battled those gales again. Our pace on the 4.5 km ridge was pretty pedestrian, and although the views were fantastic, we focussed mainly on keeping our footing. I only slipped 4 or 5 times. Thank goodness for sturdy boots.

IMG_5862We shared the trail with a few Wallabies and a couple of hairy goats, all of which were very shy, and disappeared down the slopes as soon as we came into view.

After coming off the ridge we meandered through the scratchy, thorny, stony scrub on a gentle slope before pacing it out along the fence line to finish at the old wagon adjacent the road with many names. Leigh Creek Road/Outback Highway/Barndioota Road/Parachilna Road(all dependant on which map you look at).

One of four walks done.  This trip will take in four days of walking with one day break (to rest the sore feet).  Today was a easy “break-in” walk of 9 kms, just to get us back in the swing of things. Tomorrow we will up the anti with 15kms, before we tackle the 30+ kms  on walk three. Last day will see us do another 15 kms walking into Wilpena Pound. 75 kms in all for the week. We are staying in a comfortable cabin at Hawker Caravan Park for two nights and the rest of the week will be at Rawnsley Park.

In Short:

Jarvis Hill to Leigh Creek Road

Distance : 9.8 kms

Duration : 2 hours 18 minutes

Pace : 4.2 kph

Terrain: Rocky and prickly

Elevation : Gain = 189 mtrs. Loss = 215 mtrs

Calories burned : 1351

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And the rest in pictures.

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IMG_4521This will be our sixth year of walking the Heysen trail.  It does’nt seem to be that long ago, although, in another way it seems like a life time ago. That cool day in 2011, heading off from Cape Jervis (so long ago it was in B+W).

Well seasoned we now are on the vagaries of the trail. The challenges and the pitfalls that beget a walker from time to time.  From blisters, to minor injuries, to getting lost and walking in the dark. Not bringing enough water, mis-calculating the distance (both too short and too long), and missing trail markers (again and again). Getting my car bogged, and  oh, there was also the time I left my car keys in Grant’s car (at the start of the walk with my car at the end). No mobile coverage to ring a taxi until we climbed the nearest hill.  A number “two” accident with insufficient loo paper, and having to go “commando” for the rest of the walk was less that ideal (albeit very refreshing).

IMG_0702Amidst all of these very human frailties though, lies the beauty of the Australian landscape.  The Jurassic cliff views of the un-ending southern ocean while keeping company with Roos and Echidna’s. The ever inquisitive cows and the communal sheep, often looked over by protector alpacas.  The rolling hills of wheat and canola. The heavily wooded  forests, every bit of the Hollywood scary movie, complete with fog and creepy stillness. The temperate micro climates of the gullies and valleys.  With birds and lizards and all other manner of creatures filling in the spaces among the grass trees and the native flowers. The old Gums, engraving themselves relentlessly into the vista, defying time and dominating an all too often harsh environment.  The unspoken history on show in the bleached homes of the fading past. Often the only clue as to the harshness of our colonial past.

IMG_4655Life and death is on display without judgement or care. There are no humanistic emotions at play in the bush.  It brings life into sharp focus, without the subtleties of relational or competitive politics which forever cloud one’s mind living in the city.  The simplicity of survival clears out the irrelevant and redundant, giving clarity of mind and spirit.  Oh yea!

Then there is the delightful cafe’s, bakeries and restaurants serving the most delicious Aussie country cooking. Beef steak pies, Calamari, or Roo fillets with Quongdong sauce. Do I need to go on?  To accompany such fine food, there is always a fine beverage to elevate the meal to truly memoral. Mclaren Vale and the Fleurieu Peninsula. The Barossa Valley and the Clare Valley, will delight the fussiest of wine taste buds.  All this and more, on, or very near the trail.

IMG_4077The mostly unseen beauty of SA is revealed when you walk the Heysen Trail. Much of which is hidden from the more well travelled roads. Plenty of characters on the way too. In the pubs cafe’s and the camping spots, as well as other walkers on the trail. Plenty of country hospitality and friendliness, and they always love a chat. Seems everyone out there has a story, and I love to hearing their history.

The mostly unseen beauty of SA is revealed when you walk the Heysen Trail. Much of which is hidden from the more well travelled roads. So if you have moderate fitness, or are willing to “step up” your training, the Heysen trail is such a joy to experience. Come and see the beauty of South Australia.

2011 – 107.5 kms

2012 – 185.2 kms

2013 – 208.8 kms

2014 – 148.2 kms

2015 – 264 kms

2016 – About to be done.

IMG_54042016 will see us completing the final leg of this amazing journey.  Dutchman’s Stern to Parachilna Gorge. Although the logistics are getting a little more challenging, we are looking forward to seeing the ancient geology on show in the Northern Flinders Ranges. I am also treating myself to a new camera lens to help capture the raw beauty we are about to experience. Our first walk will be Hawker(Jarvis Hill) through to Wilpena Pound over 5 days from May 8th.

I have been really happy to share our experiences and hope it has been an enjoyable read so far. Here I go for another year of looking at the back of Grant’s head.

See you on the trail maybe?

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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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The Heysen trail is a 1200 kilometre walking track winding it’s way though South Australia’s bushland and rural areas, from Cape Jervis way down south to Parachilna Gorge in the Flinders Ranges.  It takes in some stunning coastal, hills and mountain views as well as the opportunity to see our wonderful native plants and animals.  The trail is well supported by Friends of the Heysen, as well as those who help to maintain the track and the property owners who allow us to traverse their land.

To date we have walked 279 kilometres. That’s about   37,200 steps, over rocks, soft sand, hard dirt, through long grass and shrubs, mud and at times water, and, up and down hills and mountains of various sizes and slopes.  No wonder my boots are worn out, and I am now in the market for new hiking boots.  The last two walks I have lost traction on slippery slopes a couple of times.  Then there was the two times Grant nearly stepped on some very grumpy stumpy’s. I have never seen him move so fast!

We have been lost a few times, both getting there and sometimes on the trail.  Seems we are a little casual at times with our preparation and navigation skills, however we are getting better and learning new tricks almost every walk (unfortunately mostly from experience).  Oh, and there was that one time that I had left my car keys in Grants car. That was not good.  Very expensive taxi ride from the middle of nowhere.  Also had to climb the nearest hill to get one bar mobile reception.

Grant gets a bit ticked off every time we go astray.  Me, I am a bit more philosophical.   It’s a bit like life really.  Sometimes you take a wrong turn and it can take you to a dead end, while other times it can take you somewhere wonderful!

Mostly though, our walks go to plan within a margin of error, and the views and experiences are always spectacular (except for the boring pine forests).

This year we have walked 175 kilometres from Myponga to Mount Crawford.  We walk anything from 12  to 26 kilometres at a time and we are far from super fit.  Grant struggles going down hills, while I struggle going up the big hills. What a pair we make!  It is amazing that we do the walks in the times that we do given our opposing handicaps.  This year we picked up a few friends for some of our walks.  “Me Bro”, Mal, his Misses and their niece and her partner.  It was nice to have a few other faces on the trail instead of just Grant’s ugly mug (luv ya really Grant).  Anyone else is welcome to join us for next year.

The next “chapter” takes us out of the Adelaide hills and into the Barossa Valley, which is pretty flat with not too many hills, like what we have seen through the Mount Lofty Ranges.   We should make quick work of the Barossa, however it has been suggested that the wineries may just slow us down a little (hic).

Just a few visual highlights:

Awesome cliffs just before Victor Harbor

Deep Creek

Turns Parsons Beach

Curious cows

Looking back towards Inman Valley

Shingle Backs. Not too happy either!

On the road to Mount Magnificent

Magic Mushies?

Kuipto Forest

Where’s my Dinner!

“Hangin” with Sir Thomas Playford at Norton Summit

Montachute Conservation Park

Cuddle Creek Nature Reserve

Granpa’s Camp

Warren Conservation Park

JTF