Heysen Trail, South Australia
South Australia, Australia
time : Jul 5, 2022 7:02 AM
duration : 6h 57m 41s
distance : 32.1 km
total_ascent : 163 m
highest_point : 519 m
avg_speed : 4.9 km/h
user_id : gstreet
user_firstname : Carl
user_lastname : Greenstreet
I sleep acceptably on the thin mat that was left behind at the hut although the sleeping surface is quite hard. Surprisingly, I wake up with a bit of an aching back - I thought a super firm surface would do the opposite!
I’m up before 0530 as my bladder is bursting! Normally I would go back to bed for an hour but I see embers glowing in the fireplace and I stir the fire back to life. I’ll finish off yesterday’s travel journal instead and still get an early start as soon as there is pre-dawn light.
I’ve got a reasonable distance to cover today but, going south, it will be predominantly down hill. There is one section I think is particularly scenic, like the set of an old western film. Soon after, I’ll start following the Bundaleer Channels- a turn of the century engineering marvel that few now remember.
I’m off at 7am in the pre-sunrise light. I set a good pace and feel pleasantly warm and happy as I walk through the Bundaleer Forest, then a bit of road walking and finally by a station house as I enter my favourite part of the walk - the descending valleys that follow Never Never Creek until it intersects Bundaleer Creek.
It’s a beautiful series of valleys, grassy green while rocky along the creek beds and drier higher up the hills, which are covered with grass trees. The valley is full of sheep and lambs and I do my best not to startle them as it’s too common for a mother sheep to run away and loose contact with their lambs. I came across a number of distraught lambs looking for their mothers. 😢
Eventually the descending valleys flatten out and the creeks transition into more of a swamp, filled with two metre high golden grasses, like sea oats or cat tails. I love hearing the tall grass rustle in the breeze.
The Bundaleer Tank campsite is in an “island” within this lowlands. It’s a gorgeous campsite with perhaps one of the nicest dunnies on the trail! I’ve always wanted to camp here but timing just hasn’t fit well within my walking days.
Leaving the Bundaleer Tank campsite, I soon come to the Bundaleer Wier, a huge dam like concrete structure with a cascading spillway.
From there, I start following the Bundaleer Channel in earnest. I’ve always admired this 120 year old enginnering feat, particularly remembering that most of the surveying for channel was done using line of sight only!
I keep a fast pace up along the relatively flat channel shoulder and the kilometres fall away. I come to areas where the channel actually goes underground and tunnels under hills and I wonder how they would have constructed this over a hundred years ago?
Just a few kilometres out of Spalding, I leave the channel and follow farmland then a natural creek. Here, the sheep mostly look ready to give birth and the few lambs I see are tiny and very young. A very pregnant sheep walks uncomfortably away from me on what looks like tip toes and I can only imagine that she is in labour so I do my best to cut through fields and away from them so that I disturb the livestock as little as possible.
Not long after, I’m in Spalding - 32 kms and it’s not yet 2pm! A pretty decent pace, but I do like my glamping town visits! 😀
I visit the General Store first for a pastie and a coffee. Dave, the new owner, is a nice fellow. The old owner, Bruce, used to take the piss out of me every chance he got.
Then it’s next door to the Spalding Hotel where the new owners, Fletcher and Ange, are super nice and very hiker friendly (allow food drops, cook dinners for walkers on nights the kitchen is normally closed, allow use of washers, etc).
They are renovating the rooms and show me one in progress that is gorgeous - freshly painted walls, fireplace and Jarah floors. It’s coming up beautifully.
I have a shower and they let me wash my smelly walking clothes in their washer. I also pick up the food drop that we made three weeks ago on the way up plus the replacement sleeping mat that Lisa mailed up. It’s a lightly used Nemo Tensor mat that my hiking buddy Chris loaned me - perfect to replace my failing Thermarest mat! Thanks Chris! 🙏🙏
I then go to the post office and mail off my faulty delaminated mat to the NSW distributor so that it can be assessed for a warranty claim. I can’t see how it could be considered a user caused failure but the distributor has been very evasive in saying delamination is a manufacturer fault. It’s an expensive piece of kit at $400 so I was hoping for a long service life if I took care of it (and I did!).
Now I’m set for the next leg: food resupplied, clothes clean and mat replaced. Perfect!
Around 5pm I head to the front bar for beers and dinner. I enjoy talking with the locals and have a hearty meal including the most awesome tasting Sticky Date pudding for dessert. Now off to bed in a warm room; It just can’t get much better than this!
Carl / Pilgrim