Heysen Trail, South Australia
Northern Areas Council, South Australia, Australia
time : Jun 15, 2019 7:46 AM
duration : 7h 58m 43s
distance : 32.8 km
total_ascent : 416 m
highest_point : 512 m
avg_speed : 4.7 km/h
user_id : gstreet
user_firstname : Carl
user_lastname : Greenstreet
Ramblr tech support is working on the bug that truncated yesterday’s journal to two paragraphs! Pics seem okay.
The only day I know is impacted is Day 29. I put my journal for that day on Facebook and made it public so you should be able to search it out. FB/Carl Greenstreet
Long day at 33km. First half spent walking along Bundaleer Channel, a turn of the century marvel. The second half was outstanding in my view as I hiked up isolated valleys surrounded by lovely hills.
Staying the night at Curnow’s hut in Bundaleer Forest. As always, I love huts!
Day 30 is done and dusted! Once again, my feet feel like raw meat. By the end of a long day, all the aches and pains present themselves and the last 5 kms often feel like a death march. Amazingly, my body seems to repair itself overnight and I’m capable of walking the next morning. Magic!
I left the Spalding pub early before anyone else was out and about (I was the only guest last night). I did go out and say goodbye to the two super-affectionate kitties on the back veranda. They are such darlins’
Within a few kilometres of leaving Spalding, I was back following the Bundaleer Channel. It really is a marvel considering it was commissioned in 1902. I walked along a berm that is shared with the Mawson Trail, SA’s long distance bike trail. On either side of me were generally fields. It was quiet and I saw no one even though I walked 12 kms along it until I got to the reservoir itself.
I felt I was walking slightly uphill the whole way but I know the channel grade was dropping ever so slightly towards the reservoir. They did this with a theodolite and “by eye”. Amazing construction including tunnels in places a bit larger in diameter that a tall man.
I met an old timer in the pub last night that told me over 40 years ago, he used to get paid to walk the 30km channels to report maintenance problems with the concrete liner. He said he was going through one of the tunnels once when he saw a feral deer with a rack of antlers coming at him! He pushed himself to the side and the deer shoved past. He said he was certain he was going to be skewered on an antler!
As I walked I thought about a previous German hiker in 2010 named Christine who was walking the berm after major rains / floods. All of a sudden a hole opened up under her feet and she fell over 4 metres down a sinkhole washout from the adjacent channel. Luckily she got out; bleeding and covered in mud she sought help at the nearest farmhouse. She was okay but could have easily been killed. I had my hiking poles ready to belay a fall if the ground opened up under me!
Once I got near the Bundaleer Reservoir, I did a lot of boring road walking. SA Water is so paranoid and bans public access to the reservoir with warning signs everywhere. The F.O.T.H (Friends of the Heysen Trail) recently had a win where SA Water allowed hikers to reroute between the two huge waterlines and avoid a bit of Highway walking. Of course, I got lost coming out of the new reroute. I eventually rejoined the trail but I now have four barbed wire tears in my shorts! Whoops!
On the other side of the reservoir, I channel walked again. They even had bridges / flumes for the channel. I saw a sheep looking lost down in the narrow dry concrete channel but it turned and ran and I never saw it again. I guess it can get out?
Finally, I came to the Bundaleer Weir, a large concrete dam like structure with gates in it. I crossed the weir as that’s what my map looked like I should do. Soon, at around 18 kms total walked for the day, I came to the Bundaleer Weir Campsite but I was on the wrong side of a marsh filled with tall cattail-like plants. I eventually said screw it and just waded across with water rising up to my ankles!
The Bundaleer Weir Campsite is one of the prettiest campsites I’ve come across on the Heysen Trail. It also has the nicest loo I’ve seen! I still had 14 kms to go so I had a short rest break and then pushed on.
I loved the next section of the hike! I followed the marsh and it turned into green winding valleys with grass tree covered hills on either side. There was a 4WD track through the middle of it but in true HT fashion, the trail hugged a fence on one side or the other making the walk steeper, rockier, and simply more challenging.
I suppose they do this to keep people away from livestock. Like it mattered - something like several hundred sheep (and their cute lambs!) saw me in the distance and started running. I drove them up the valley for at least eight kilometres!
When I finally emerged from this, a landholder came riding up on a huge quad bike and his dog comfortably behind him. We had a chat, he was Robert and his dog was Turbo. Turbo wasn’t too proud of a working dog to not love a cuddle from me! Robert agreed the country was stunning and said the F.O.T.H call this section a hidden gem!
Robert was opening gates and getting ready to drive sheep into new paddocks. He said you would get nowhere in this country without a good working dog to assist you. Later I shot a video of them beginning to move the sheep. Hopefully the video will upload as I’m not having good success with video and often delete them so I can successfully upload the journal to ramblr.
Finally, nearing four o’clock, I reached Curnow’s Hut in the Bundaleer Forest both footsore and tired. Bundaleer Forest was another late 1800s experiment. Around 1870, SA Parliament was worried that SA’s native trees would be lost forever in the rush to get building materials for expanding settlement. They established a tree plantation, Bundaleer Forest, and grew both natives and exotics. The first nursery man was John Curnow who built the cottage that now, after restoration, serves as the hut.
Interesting story about the hut, it was restored by a group of homeless men from Adeliade Central Mission in 1992 after obtaining a $20k grant. A video I watched said it was life changing for some participants.
Tired or not, I can’t waste the rapidly ending daylight so I started making camp straight away. I ran into a family as I swept out the hut. A lady named Jessie who told me she and her husband owned the land, and her parents Robert & Lee. It turned out after many fires, SA Forestry divested the land but put a greenway agreement in place preserving access to the hut and HT. I enjoyed our chat as they were nice people. Once again, I’m blown away by the generous landholders who support the HT.
I’m now sitting inside in front of a nice fire on a park bench! Time to do my photos, then bed. Another big day tomorrow to Hiskey’s hut.