Hallett Railway Station Hut is locked. See FoH site for combo.
Heysen Trail, South Australia
The Regional Council of Goyder, South Australia, Australia
time : Jul 13, 2020 8:08 AM
duration : 5h 51m 13s
distance : 17.6 km
total_ascent : 448 m
highest_point : 934 m
avg_speed : 3.8 km/h
user_id : gstreet
user_firstname : Carl
user_lastname : Greenstreet
I had a broken night’s sleep last night. I must confess: I find the Old Mt Bryan Schoolhouse creepy. I spend a lot of time in the dark camping and doing Astro and have become quite comfortable alone in the dark. I’m long past worrying about things that go bump in the night. So why did I wake up in the middle of the night inside the schoolhouse when I heard something creak or pop in one of the adjoining rooms? Each time, I’m involuntarily jolted with a shot of adrenaline and it takes 15 minutes or so to settle back down and then drift into sleep. Perhaps the schoolhouse is haunted? 👻 😀
I take my time in the morning as I only have 16 kms today - although part of that is climbing up to Mt Bryan Summit at 933 metres! I sweep out the grubby schoolhouse room but can’t find a dustpan to get it outside so I leave a dirt pile in the corner! I finish by writing “Hi Geert” on the blackboard in chalk. I wonder if he’ll see it amongst the million other scrawls and chalk graffiti?
Then it’s 8 am and time to walk. It’s chilly and I have to pull gloves on. I walk four kilometres around the base of Mt Bryan before I leave the road to start climbing. The summit is shrouded in fog and clouds. I’m optimistic however as the weather is improving by the minute.
The climb starts gentle through cattle fields and cows and their calves bellow and trumpet as they run for me. As I predicted, I’m starting to get glimpses of the summit and cell towers at the top. Even better, I can still see a bright quarter moon above the peak. It looks so large but photos confirm it’s an optical illusion.
I cross a fence and the grade gets very steep now. It’s changed to sheep country as too steep for cows. I enjoy the exertion as it warms me, makes me feel alive and the views become more outstanding with every step. I take lots of photos and it’s annoying that I have to keep pulling my glove off so the phone’s capacitance sensor will detect my finger.
This year is proving to be so much better than last year when I climbed it in driving rain! But I lucked out last year for a clear patch at the summit so all was good!
I near the summit and drop into a gully that shields me from the wind. The last bit of climb is exhilarating! I climb to the stone monument; sort of a rock pyramidal cairn that has brass plates on each side commentating famous SA explorers and a compass rosette on top showing landmarks in 360 degrees. I sit in the lee side, sheltered from the wind, and catch up on my communications. I haven’t had signal for several days as I was walking through the back of beyond but I’m getting signal at the Mt Bryan summit.
I call Lisa to let her know I’m safe and happy, message a few friends and upload a few days of trail journals. Then I’m off, heading down the other side.
First, though, I swing by God’s Chair - this cement chair with a cross on the back perched on the summit where it feels like you are looking down at all creation.
The walk down the mountain has some steep down grades, rocky footing and even a couple of climbs, so it goes more slowly than I would like. I eventually reach the flat and herd flocks of timid sheep in front of me before I finally reach gravel roads. It’s a fairly boring four kilometre walk into Hallett. Instead of heading to the hut, I turn the other way and walk into town to the servo / general store. They do takeaways and I’m hoping for a burger.
Drats! The only thing on offer is a Villies pie in a silver crisper but I’m consoled by the fact that I can also get a coffee and slice of chocolate pie.
I remember Chris, the proprietor from last time. He is a friend of walkers and bikers, stocking a couple shelves with hiker food and he also maintains the Hallett Railway Station hut, which is so well appointed that many call it the Hallett Hilton! 😀
He gives me two rolls of toilet paper to take to the hut so to make sure it doesn’t run out. What a guy! If you are walking, please support his business.
I have a walk around the attached craft store and find some woollen fingerless gloves knitted by Chris’ mother-in-law in NZ. I buy them for walking gloves as now I should be able to operate my phone on cold mornings plus I just want to give back to Chris’ business.
From Chris I learn that the publican, also named Chris, sold the Wildongoleechie Hotel, also known as the Wild Dog pub. It’s now open more days (Tuesday to Sun, from 3pm) and they now serve pub meals where Chris only had Pizza. Unfortunately, it’s closed on Mondays so no beer and snitty for me tonight. Rats!
I thank Chris for his help to hikers, say goodbye and walk the kilometre or so to the Railway Station hut. I come across three kids crossing the road in their bare feet carrying a dozen apples for the horse in the pasture. We chat and they are amazed anyone could walk four weeks up from the coast and still have nearly four to go? “Do you sleep?” they asked. I explain I carry everything I need on my back and that I sleep well every night!
The hut is locked with a combination lock which is important in keeping it nice. Even so, it’s dirtier than my last visit. It’s not even 2pm, so I busy myself tidying the hut - sweeping it, cleaning tables, sinks and windowsills. It looks much better when I am done.
I have so much time that I wash out my hiking clothes in a bucket and hang them to dry outside. It’s sunny and warm enough that I sit shirtless on the station concourse bench (but railway line is long gone!) and write my entry into the hut logbook.
Afterwards I note there isn’t much wood so I forage a heap of wood. The hut has a quality wood burning cast iron stove which is incredibly efficient and warming- so much better than rusted out stoves or broken fireplaces in most huts. There is a catch - the stove is small and needs short lengths of wood. The FoH provide a saw for this.
Well, I’m lazy. I tried sawing some wood and it was difficult to hold it still and basically a lot of work and a huge pain in the ass. I end up slamming my hand and get a deep blue blood blister under my thumbnail.
So I decide to take the smaller pieces, up to a diameter about the circumference of my wrist, and lean these against the stone building and jump on them to break them. Much faster and it worked until it didn’t. A few pieces swung around instead and whacked my leg. I now have deep purple bruises on my left knee and right ankle! Serves me right, I guess.
Sun is down now and I’m in clean(er) clothes and warm in front of the hut stove. The hut has a candle and a solar light (not sure how long it will last) so it feels like luxury as I eat my spicy mei goreng noodles and fantasise about the beer and pub meal I missed.
Tomorrow is a bit longer day at 25km plus I have to free camp alongside a dirt road over a ridge. The carrot is the Spalding pub is waiting for me the next night! Ah, the glamping life for me!
Carl / pilgrim
Weather: nice day and sunny. Breezy and cloudy at first moving to sunny warm arvo.
Calories burnt: 2206