Heysen Trail

The Heysen 74: Ocean

Monday, November 21, 2016 – 21 km


Today was special because it was my arrival at the ocean! After however many kilometres, I’m about to start the final section of the HT, and everyone says that it’s beautiful. I was planning to bypass Victor Harbor, but I realized that the sunscreen I was gifted is three years expired, so I decided to walk into town via Three Gullies and Jagger roads. I’ll walk out via the longer Heysen spur trail along the ocean, which I expect to be more scenic.

Mostly road-walking today. Another dog ran off a property and started barking two feet from my legs. The owner called it back and told it ‘What are you doing? That’s not good’. A+ FOR DISCIPLINE. THAT WILL MAKE IT BEHAVE DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME. In a portion of trail through fields, I saw a partially buried echidna – cutest and most underrated of Australian animals – and a big black snake.


The most scenic part of the day was the walk into Victor Harbor through Encounter Bay and those exciting first glimpses of the beach. Light rain fell, welcome because of the heat, but no substantial precipitation until after I arrived at the caravan park and pitched my tent. Victor Harbor has three caravan parks and I’m staying at the beachfront one, which is huge. I wandered in through a side gate and had to hunt for the office. The wind is strong today and I appreciate how the employee took that into consideration when assigning me a site.


Walking to the town centre, I got stranded when the rain began in earnest. I was wearing my rain jacket but it’s a mess now, with the waterproof layer coming off everywhere, and I had left my poncho in my tent and my sunbrella in Adelaide. I sheltered at the grocery store until the rain lightened to a drizzle.

Stunning sunset

By the way, I discovered in the logbooks at Myponga Conservation Park that a southbound thru-hiker passed me! I think the trail name was either stampercamper or scampercamper. Not sure whether they passed during my rest day in Mount Compass or during the night. One logbook said ‘Day 39’ so they’re moving quickly. It’s so late in the season that I wasn’t expecting anyone to be on the trail behind me.

Heysen Trail

The Heysen 73: High of 31

Sunday, November 20, 2016 – 34.34 km

The wind picked up last night and I was too cold in only my sleeping bag, so I relented and pitched my tent. I thought when I woke up that the air felt strangely warm – the Mount Compass forecast was for a high in the lower twenties when I last checked – but I didn’t start genuinely wondering until I had been walking for awhile and warm had progressed to hot and hot had progressed to scalding. I checked the forecast for Myponga, which was closer than Mount Compass. And it said… high of 31??!!! And I had 35 km to walk! First things first, I was going to run out of water. I decided that I was morally fine with stealing a litre of water, and hopped a fence to take some from a rainwater tank. Unfortunately the tank had no spigot. Crime averted.


The first streams I saw were scummy or oily. If you want me to drink you, at least attempt to hide your pollution. I noticed that a ‘Wild Dog Creek’ was marked in the map elevation profile. You might think something like ‘If it’s noted on the elevation profile, maybe it’s a good water source’, but remember, these are the maps that can’t distinguish walking trail from following a fence. I figured that I would be lucky if the creek wasn’t an effluent pipe, but kept it in my mind as a potential source if I didn’t see anything better first.


Yulte Conservation Park was lovely but all up and down. Difficult walking, especially in the heat, and I almost fell a few times since the soles of my boots are worn down almost to uselessness. I removed my shirt and tucked my bandana into my sports bra for more modesty. You know how when you’re sweating and you brush against ferns or other soft plants and it smears the sweat and feels nice and cool? Well, this was not like that. The plants were all prickly and gougey on my poor flesh.


The route turned to roads after the conservation park. I missed a turn and walked to Myponga Reservoir. Seeing the reservoir was nice (I hadn’t seen a decent lake in a long time) but having made a mistake on such a long, tortuously hot day was frustrating. Heysen’s Rest B&B was nearby and I considered taking a hit to my budget by retreating there, but no one answered my phone call and the property was blocked by a locked gate. I walked on.

Myponga Reservoir

Myponga Conservation Park was even prettier than Yulte CP, but the same tough walking. Wild Dog Creek was decent though, containing algae but no scum or oiliness, and it was flowing well. I ended up drinking two litres of water from there (filtered), so hopefully there was nothing too unsavory in it. Just the normal microplastics, cow feces, birth control pills, etc.


Steep climb down to Inman Valley from Sugarloaf Hill (I mention this only because I wanted to write ‘sugarloaf’). A sign indicated that water is available in Inman Valley, and the map also says so, but there are no public washrooms and the store closes at 5:00 PM. I still had creek water, so I passed by. I don’t like walking in the dark, but figured it would be okay in this case since the last part of the day was on road – I had forgotten that the trail had been rerouted through the hills. Luckily I was able to complete the cross-country portion before dark. A few cows started trotting towards me but stopped when I ran away.

Very accommodating.

The sun was down by the time I reached the woods. No problems following the signage in the dark. Robinson Hill Campsite has a flat tentsite and gives the impression of having a nice view in the daylight. I had previously decided that I was going to sleep on the tank bench, but the campsite was hosting a wide variety of insects, including a hardcore centipede 6-7 inches long and dozens of annoying flying bugs that kept launching themselves at my face because of my headlamp.


I pitched my tent for some peace, but the door was unzipped and a bucket of bugs got inside just during the pitching process. I took down the tent to turn it inside out, leaving the stakes in the ground to re-pitch the tent in the same position, but then had trouble finding the stakes again in the dark. Seeing some predators at work, a spider and a huge ant killing the flying insects, provided some consolation.

Good job, bud!
Heysen Trail

The Heysen 72: The Bigger Picture

Saturday, November 19, 2016 – 8.44 km

I was still undecided when leaving Mount Compass about how far to walk today. The next campsite, Mt. Cone, is only 8.44 km from Mount Compass, but there are no established campsites for 35 km after Mt. Cone. I decided to decide upon arriving at Mt. Cone.


Road walking, fence walking. I was walking through a pasture containing a small group of cows when… THEY CAME AFTER ME! Maybe they were expecting me to open a gate that you’re indeed supposed to open, but instead I climbed nimbly over the chain before they got close. And that, my friends, is the real reason why you should keep your pack weight down.

Why u so obsessed with me?

Despite arriving at Mt. Cone campsite early in the day, I chose to stay. It’s one of the better Heysen campsites, with a pretty view and reasonably flat spots for pitching a tent, though I’m cowboy camping on the tank bench to save time tomorrow morning. A few cows are milling around below, grazing and brushing against bushes and making demented-sheep noises.

Mt. Cone water tank

I was thinking today about what I was expecting from the Heysen and what I’ve received. I thought about how it’s been almost three years since I injured my foot, and that maybe it will never recover to how it was before, and though I’ve thought those things many times before, I felt for the first time today that I had accepted them. The realization was emotional, but neither happy nor sad. I just felt relieved to be able to move on. I realized that while I had thought that coming to Australia was ‘doing something’, I was still just waiting for the pain to go away, as I had been doing back home ever since the injury. I feel free to look forwards now. A great feeling.

View from Mt. Cone
Heysen Trail

The Heysen 71: Unnecessary Space

Friday, November 18, 2016

Rest day in Mount Compass. The only notable event was when I was walking down the road and an oncoming driver swerved all the way into the other lane to give me space. That’s too much space! That’s unnecessary space!

Black invasive millipedes infest areas of Australia and the caravan park bathrooms are filled with them. I’ll take that over when I woke up one night during the Great Ocean Walk and one was crawling on my face.

Heysen Trail

The Heysen 70: Gila River Canyons Day

Thursday, November 17, 2016 – 8.56 km

The weather was warm when I woke up and hot by 7:30 AM – an AZT Gila River Canyons day. While walking down the road from Finness Conservation Park, I noticed grassy flat spots with ‘Private property/no trespassing’ signs on the bordering fence. I wonder whether the Finniss River Campsite landowner withdrew access because people were camping elsewhere on his/her property?


Road walk, road walk, then single track through ferns. I met two section hikers. Cross-country across fields – another good-natured landowner who lets hikers step away from the fence.


I’m breaking up this final section of the Heysen by taking a resupply/rest day in Mount Compass, which is 1.7 km down Victor Harbour Road. The Mount Compass Caravan Park is slightly further down the Heysen Trail, accessed from Heysen Boulevard. I had originally thought they were on the same road, so I was disappointed when I realized that getting to the town from the caravan park would be a longer walk than expected. The caravan park was nice though, and the owner was friendly and helpful. He offered to drive me into town, said that I could charge my phone in the laundry room, and even gave me a tube of sunscreen. I was lucky to also catch a ride back from town with a woman who pitied me for walking in the heat. Call me Ms. Sweaty.

Heysen Trail

The Heysen 69: Sunsplaining

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 – 24.7 km

Forest walking this morning, including nicely built single-track. I’m getting spoiled I think, since I would have raved about this sort of walk during the soul-death from Melrose to Hallett, but such is the way of human beings.


The trail shifted onto road for awhile, reaching an old re-route now marked as the route on the map. A car stopped and the driver said hello, introducing himself as the leader for this portion of trail. Later I encountered him doing trail maintenance and we talked for awhile. He was dripping with sweat and I felt sorry for him working all alone in the heat; on the other hand, trail work is probably keeping him in great shape. He shared some interesting info, like that the bushy roadside areas are places where the government was thinking to build roads but never did. He asked where I was planning to camp and I said Mount Compass. There’s a Heysen water tank and shelter near Finniss Creek, but the landowner cut off access mere weeks ago, according to the Friends’ website. I was also considering camping in one of the conservation parks, and was carrying enough water for that contingency.


There were nice views from Mt. Magnificent, which is really just a hill. I saw a very active sleepy lizard eating yellow flowers. A few spots looked okay for camping, but it was too early in the day, so I continued to the southern edge of Finniss Conservation Park, where I found an established campsite with logs to sit on and evidence of a campfire. Score! Unfortunately the nice campsite isn’t in the shade. Even by Australian standards, today was killer hot, and I retreated to the cover of the trees. The sun seemed to take forever to go down… it had the interminable quality of a man mansplaining a sport to you even after you’ve already told him that you know the rules and who all the players are.

Heysen Trail

The Heysen 68: Average

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 – 15.58 km

I left before the kids got up this morning. Today’s walk was average, forests and farmland, no signage issues. The Ironbarks picnic area was pleasant, with picnic tables and fire rings beside the road.

I arrived at Chookarloo Campground around 12:00 PM. It contains a one-walled shelter, covered picnic areas, a toilet, plenty of space and a very bold bird after human food. A permit is required for overnight stays, so I decided to make the ~3 km round trip to Forest Headquarters to obtain one and pay for the Rocky Creek campsite. A kiosk had interesting info about the forest reserve and various stages of development the forests go through.

Kangaroo with joey feet sticking out of her pouch
Heysen Trail

The Heysen 67: No Backpackers on the School Bus

Monday, November 14, 2016 – 29.95

I took the bus back to Piccadilly this morning, planning my route with Google Maps. It required a transfer and when I disembarked from the first bus, I noticed that the number for the second bus wasn’t on the bus stop sign. Well, the sign could be wrong, right? When the bus arrived, it said ‘school bus’ on the front. Oh. I boarded the bus and asked the driver whether I could take it. He said ‘This is just a normal school bus.’ I said ‘So I can’t take it?’ Letting a random backpacker onto a school bus seems like a good idea to me! He was not enthused though and recommended another bus scheduled to arrive only ten minutes later. The quick timing was lucky since the hike to Rocky Creek Campsite from Piccadilly is about 30 km.


The HT was a road walk past Woodhouse Activity Centre – permission is required to leave the trail there – Bridgewater, and Mylor. Mylor has a cafe, general store and washrooms at the oval. The people were so friendly that I regretted not needing to buy anything there, since while I did neglect to buy sunscreen in Adelaide, I don’t need more yet. Speaking of neglect, I also forgot my GPS in Adelaide. The signage has been great recently though so I’m going to continue with only maps and hope that I don’t get lost and die. Always a good thing to hope for.


While I was having a snack beside the road, I heard mooing and turned to see that a large group of cows had gathered behind the fence and were staring at me. Maybe they’re fed at that location…? I explained to them that I had no food for cows, but it’s almost like cows don’t understand English, because they just kept waiting there. As I’ve made known, I’m not a fan of cows, but I feel like we bonded then, with me eating peacefully and them simmering with increasing resentment and irritation at my continued failure to give them food. (Scary barking dogs are now enemy #1.)

You know it’s the southern and not the northern Heysen when there’s an actual staircase.

After some boggy portions of trail with boardwalk and an old mine, the route passed into Kuitpo Forest. I made a signage error in which I went the wrong direction at a fallen sign, but there was further signage supporting that direction, so maybe it was a strangely marked alternate route? I was irritated when I found myself back near where I had started. Two people on horseback arrived when I was looking at my map and asked whether I was lost. I said ‘no, just annoyed’. The woman asked me to repeat myself. I’m not sure whether the problem was the accent or whether she was just confused about why a stranger was telling her their feelings. (By the way, if you ever want to confuse an Aussie with your foreign accent, say ‘thank you, I’ll pay with card please’. Every time I’ve said that they’ve asked me to repeat myself.) I was tired by then and happy when I reached Rocky Creek Campground, which is only for the use of school groups/scouts/Heysen hikers. Hikers are supposed to book in advance, but I wasn’t sure what day I would arrive, so I didn’t. I haven’t paid the fee ($5) either, but will when I pass the Forest Headquarters.


I’m sharing the campground with a school group. I promised myself that I would think more kindly about school groups after getting that ride out of Melrose, but they’re playing a game with blindfolds and screaming and I can’t be held responsible for my thoughts in this instance.

Heysen Trail

The Heysen 66: 1.5 Months Early

Sunday, November 13, 2016

I took three zeros in Adelaide to avoid a big storm, but it didn’t feel like a long time, maybe because Adelaide is a city instead of a small town and getting places takes more than a few minutes. I was expecting my roommates to hate me due to my odd schedule, but coincidentally we all rose somewhat early and went to bed somewhat early, so it worked.


On my way to mail a resupply package to Mount Compass, I ran into a Christmas pageant. I’ve never seen a Christmas pageant before, so I thought that maybe I should watch, but then I thought ‘WHY IS THERE A CHRISTMAS PAGEANT IN MID-NOVEMBER?’ and I just couldn’t stand to watch… there are Christmas decorations along Rundle Street too, and carols playing… not sure how anyone can get into a Christmassy mood so early.

Australian post office employees have previously mailed my resupply boxes without asking questions, but the employee in Adelaide asked what was inside and said I wasn’t allowed to mail my olive oil (it was in a small Nalgene bottle) since it might leak and damage other customers’ goods. I asked whether I could mail it if it were inside a baggie, but he said they like items wrapped in something absorbent in case the box is crushed. All right man, but if the box is crushed to the extent that a baggie is shredded, I think the surrounding boxes have bigger problems than my olive oil getting on their goods.

I wanted to visit the library to read The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest after the post office, but that required getting past the pageant. Security officers were allowing pedestrians to cross the street during breaks between floats/entertainers. I jogged when my turn came, and one of the officers shouted ‘Don’t run!’. Were they worried about people tripping and getting crushed by the parade? Grotesque… seems like a suitable ending to a 1.5-months-in-advance Christmas pageant…

Heysen Trail

The Heysen 65: 5:30 Heresy

Thursday, November 10, 2016 – 18.38 km

I got an early start this morning. Though it seems heretical, I’m getting used to waking up at 5:30 and actually like it. The morning is a pleasant time to walk and the day seems longer.


Passing Norton Summit, I entered Giles Conservation Park. The creek was a great place to see koalas. I spotted six within five minutes, including a mother and joey.

Australian wildlife is often surprising

The trail climbed to the summit of Mt. Lofty, which has a viewing area for tourists, a visitor centre and a cafe. It was less busy than the time I visited via car, which may have been a weekend. The view is out towards Adelaide and the ocean. Not too far away now!

View from Mt. Lofty

I charged my phone to read more election coverage, then continued on. I had to go into Adelaide to resupply and decided to leave the trail at Piccadilly, since it has a bus stop located only a dozen metres from the Heysen (head north at the intersection of Sprigg and Piccadilly roads).

Into the city I go!

Heysen Trail

The Heysen 64: Secretly Switchbacking

Wednesday, November 09, 2016 – 25.38 km

Today’s hike began with a beautiful walk through Montacute Conservation Park and alongside Sixth Creek. Then came an absurd hill that made me try to remember high school geometry and how to calculate the average angle of ascent. Who would have thought that I would ever need high school geometry for anything? Then I remembered that it’s 2016 and there’s probably an app that can do geometry for me, and also help me cheat on a geometry test in ten different ways. (I later calculated the angle as twenty-two degrees, but that seems too slight, so I’m just going to conclude that math = bad.) The trail is a dirt road that leads straight up, but it’s hard to believe that vehicles can navigate this track without just tumbling down and collapsing in a broken heap. They’re secretly switchbacking, I know it.

80 degrees at least.

After some road walking, I saw a sign saying that I was entering an area infested with Phytophthora – a fungus-like microorganism that kills native Australian flora – and only local traffic was permitted. I didn’t know whether the sign applies to foot traffic, but I couldn’t reroute without knowing the extent of the affected area, so I decided to just make sure to keep to the paved road. Presently the route entered Morialta Conservation Park, which is teeming with boot cleaning stations. I’m not sure whether the fungus is already inside the park or whether they’re trying to prevent it from entering.


Morialta Conservation Park is lovely and a popular place to visit from Adelaide, judging by the number of people. I checked the U.S. election results at a lookout here and… what a stunner.


There are no designated campsites between Grandpas Campsite and the Woodhouse activity centre, so I walked up a maintenance track inside the conservation park and camped off to one side.

Heysen Trail

The Heysen 63: Detours

Tuesday, November 08, 2016 – 21 km

In accordance with the highly questionable ‘maybe the Friends have an agreement with the Crawford Forest Reserve since the Scotts closure isn’t noted on the Heysen website’ reasoning, I decided to complete the 2-3 km forest walk this morning. I must not have been very convinced of my reasoning, because I kept expecting that someone would pop out of nowhere and issue me a fine. The only sign of fire damage was one distant ruined area.

The route met a fence that it followed to a road. Due to fire damage in the forest reserve, a big road detour consumed most of the rest of the day.


A white horse with a strangely cut yellow mane reminded me of Donald Trump. I checked the date – November 8th in Australia, so tomorrow is American election day.

At the end of the detour was a cemetery, the only remnants of a town called Chain of Ponds. In the 1970s it was forcibly purchased by the government to protect the water quality of the Millbrook Reservoir, which supplies drinking water to Adelaide.


Passing Cudlee Creek, the HT continued south between beautiful properties. At one point the trail reached a gate beside a stile that led over the fence beside the road. Don’t use the stile – it must be for the landowners, since if you leave the road, a dodgy crossing of a barbed wire fence on a crumbling slope is required. And if you continue along the crumbling slope after that fence, you reach an electric fence, so yeah. Don’t do it.


Grandpas Campsite is pretty and has a sweet backstory described in a comment on the Friends’ website. Fabulous fire area, flat tentsites in the back and a curious shelter that looks like a treehouse fallen from its tree. The shelter is big enough to sleep in, but there’s bird poop on the floor so I’m tenting.

Heysen Trail

The Heysen 62: Uh Oh

Monday, November 07, 2016 – 20.27 km

I had another choice in route this morning: the longer official hike past Chalks Campground, or the shorter walk past the Crawford Forest Reserve Info Centre. I chose the Chalks hike and found the route pretty, though not spectacular. The campground is forested and lovely with covered picnic tables and a shelter. As per usual, it was empty. A permit is required for camping.

One of these things is not like the other

Soon after the campground, I entered Warren Conservation Park, another beautiful area of native flora. And switchbacks! Such luxury!


At the exit, I met two hikers headed to an old schoolhouse that I had passed yesterday. They looked surprised when I mentioned how far away the forest info centre was. At the time, I thought something like ‘well, they’re probably taking a different route there’, because they looked so competent with their hiking clothes and daypacks that I figured they must know how far they were planning to go. In retrospect I should have asked them some questions and made sure. Mid-afternoon isn’t an ideal time to start a long walk.


On my way up the road from the conservation park, I had another scary dog experience, this one worse than the last. When I passed a distant house, dogs started barking. I looked down and they appeared to be behind a tall fence which was separated from the road by a pond, some grass and a long switchbacking driveway. I thought ‘haha, you can’t get me from there, silly dogs’. I kept walking, but then noticed with alarm that a dog was running up the switchbacks. Quickly gaining the main road, it started following me, barking. I was horrified and considering whether to climb a tree, but also pissed, and shouting ‘Hey! Hey!’ just in case the owner was around, since I wanted to take someone to account. I should have shouted ‘I’m going to pepper spray this dog if it’s not back on your property within two minutes!’ and seen if that would have gotten a response. On the other hand, I’m not sure I want to meet someone who allows their dogs to harass passersby. ‘Innocent hiker passes creepy house in the woods and is confronted by a hostile dog… dog grabs her by the leg!!! Dog drags her back to house where sadistic owner disembowels her and makes it look like work of dog!!!!!!’. The dog was three metres away when it suddenly darted into the woods on the other side of the road, probably chasing some poor native animal. I didn’t see it again.

At the end of the day, I arrived at the Crawford Forest Reserve gate that you pass through to access Scotts Shelter. There I found a sign stating that this section of forest was closed. Uh oh. I knew that southern parts of the forest reserve were closed because of a fire in 2015, but the Heysen website doesn’t mention this area. I tried calling the info numbers on the sign but couldn’t reach anyone at either. Now… I’m naturally a law abider, and I think it’s especially bad to break the law in a foreign country, but I had been counting on the water at Scotts Shelter, and I didn’t have enough for a detour. Steeling myself, I pushed past the sign and hurried to Scotts Shelter. I saw no fire damage or logging activity, so I figured that logically it was okay to be there, if not legally. And then I thought that maybe the Friends have an agreement with the reserve that hikers are allowed to pass through, since the forest around the trail wasn’t damaged. That’s possible, right? Right? Anyway, I’ve decided to spend the night in the shelter since I’m already here. It has three overlapping bunks and sliding doors.

Heysen Trail

The Heysen 61: Gambol

Sunday, November 06, 2016 – 20 km

Visibility was only 10-15 metres when I woke up this morning, but the fog was dissipating by the time I left the hut around 8:00 AM. I had two route options: the higher official route, or the alternate route (about 1 km from the main trail) on which the hut is located. Figuring that the higher route would be more scenic, I slogged up the hill. The landscape was pretty in the fog, like a scene from a storybook.


The trail entered a pine forest. The scent was nostalgic from hiking in Canada, but walking down a road with pines on one side and a sprawl of native vegetation on the other was strange. Some of the pine forest looked natural, but the trees in other parts were clearly planted in straight lines and looked bizarre when viewed from certain directions. And then I wondered whether any of the forest genuinely looked natural, or whether I was just viewing it from the wrong perspective.

Bizarre, frankly.

The elevation profile on the map shows this leg as being substantially longer than the distance listed on the Friends’ website. So which is correct? Neither, of course! A landowner withdrew access to Freeman’s Hut and the trail has been re-routed. The beautiful re-route follows the Wirra Wirra Ridge. I saw a calf on the way up; it was nice to see a cow-thing gamboling peacefully with no fear of humans.


I wasn’t happy when I arrived at Centennial Drive Campground and realized that I had missed going over Mt. Crawford since the signage had directed me down Mount Road. I know that the campground was closed at some point due to logging operations, so maybe the signage on the road is from that time. The campground itself was huge but vacant. My pleasure at seeing fire pits turned to disappointment when I found signage stating that wood fires aren’t allowed after November 1st. Just a few days too late.

Heysen Trail

The Heysen 60: Nature

Saturday, November 05, 2016 – 12.44 km

I woke up early today, but the next campsite (Rossiters Hut) is only 12 km from Tanunda, so I lingered in the caravan park to update this journal and charge my phone. The lounge area had a claw crane. I’ve never played a crane game before and believe that I ought to at least once in my life, but I was afraid that I might win and have to carry the prize, so I’ll just add it to my bucket list alongside such wise and meaningful goals as ‘eat a twinkie’, ‘sculpt butter’ and ‘see Dalek’ (not sure what I was thinking with that one).


More vineyards heading out of town. Today’s prize was at the end of a long and gradually sloping road walk, when the HT entered Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park. The park was filled with beautiful, dense native flora and looked untouched. For the first time in ages, I thought ‘this is nature’. It was refreshing, but also a sad reminder of what we sacrifice for the sake of our dinner tables.


After the conservation park, the area around Rossiters Hut seemed singularly ugly. It’s part of the Mount Crawford Forest Reserve and was recently logged, with baby pines as the only trees in sight.


The hut was covered with spiderwebs and rodent droppings. The last visitors were more than a week ago, so the filth has had some time to compile. I swept it out, but my reaction when I dropped my pot lid on the floor was still ‘????!!!!!!!!’.

I have no idea how this scene came into existence.
Heysen Trail

The Heysen 59: Sexy Date Clothes

Friday, November 04, 2016

I took a rest day in Tanunda today. I didn’t need one, but the next leg will be six days and the trail will be getting hillier too. The Heysen never gains too much elevation, but when it goes up and down, it usually goes straight up and down.

My understanding of this town and the reception I’ve received progressed further today when I realized that I fit an image. The post office employee asked whether I was picking up a package sent to the hostel, and a guy stopped me in the grocery store to note that I looked ready for farm work, and the woman I talked to yesterday at the hostel also thought that I had come to find farm work. Well, I really am a backpacker, but these are my hiker clothes (I should have said that they were my sexy date clothes).

After running errands, I went to the library and read The Girl Who Played With Fire for six hours straight to finish it before the library closed. In Hawker I read the first book of the trilogy, so it seems fitting to complete it on the trail. When I returned to the caravan park, I saw a car in the tent area. That puzzled me since the tent area is surrounded by a streambed with only pedestrian bridges, so while I know that Australians are willing to drive their cars pretty much anywhere, I was curious about the route employed in this case. I would have asked but I didn’t want to sound annoyed that they were driving around the tent area (I was somewhat annoyed). Then another car appeared while I wasn’t watching, then another car, all driving around over the poor grass and disturbing in the dark. It remains a mystery.

The only photo I have of Tanunda is of their excessively early Christmas stuff.
Heysen Trail

The Heysen 58: Scary Barking Dog

Thursday, November 03, 2016 – 12.34 km

The walk from Greenock to Tanunda is short, flat and over roads through a populated area. While I was walking past a house, a pitbull came bounding out through the gate, no leash, barking furiously. I’m afraid of dogs (I was bitten by one when I was young, naturally while delivering newspapers, and directly after someone told me that it didn’t bite) and I fled for a nearby fence. I was pissfraid, like when you’re afraid but also pissed because people shouldn’t allow their scary barking dog to harass passersby on a public road. In my attempt to scale the fence, my pants caught in the barbed wire with one leg over, so I decided to pause and observe. The dog had stopped at the other side of the road, still barking obnoxiously. I abandoned my fence-climbing plan to walk slowly away. When I was a good distance away, I turned around and flipped the dog off, but I don’t think it understood. The correct way to flip off a dog would probably be to pee on its property directly in front of it, but I wasn’t going to try that.


Tanunda is a large town which, according to the map trivia, has a population of around 4100. Starting in Greenock, the people I’ve said hi to or waved at have ignored me, and at first I thought they were unsociable country people, but now I’m wondering whether they’re normal city people. I’ve lived in large cities, so I understand the philosophy – you can’t greet everyone, so you don’t greet strangers, and everyone behaves that way, so a stranger greeting you seems abnormal. Or maybe I just look too scruffy.

The pubs in Tanunda have more expensive accommodation than those further north, so I headed to the hostel. I arrived at 12:30 PM and a guest informed me that reception doesn’t open until 5:00 PM. After waiting for awhile, I became impatient and made the 2 km walk to the caravan park. The only other tenter is a cyclist touring the area.

Heysen Trail

The Heysen 57: Showy Flowers

Wednesday, November 02, 2016 – 17.53 km

A loud, obnoxious sound like a vacuum cleaner undergoing a violent death woke me up early this morning, and I was sluggish when I got on the trail. Just out of Kapunda, the HT passed the old Kapunda copper mine, which visitors can walk around. I was tempted and wished that I had known about it during my zero, but my mind was focused on the trail and I continued on.


Road walk road walk. Eventually the HT followed a creek for a short distance, then a trail marker pointed directly into a field. I figured it was mistaken and detoured around the edge of the field, but after crossing a stream I saw more arrows pointing into another field. They were accompanied by a path of flattened grain, so I took the marked route. The landowner is a good sport to let people walk through his/her fields! Thus far it’s always been fence-following.


After the fields the Heysen entered vineyards, which were interesting to see. The trail had passed vineyards before but never ventured close. Soon I’ll be arriving at the Barossa Valley, which is famous for its wine. The map (which provides random trivia at the expense of being a map and showing a large swathe of the surrounding area) states that the name comes from the Battle of Barrosa in Spain, but ended up as Barossa because of a clerical error.


I arrived at Greenock, where camping is in the oval for $5 per night. The town looks affluent, with huge houses and showy flowers – wine must be a profitable business. When I arrived at the oval, I found that caravans are welcome anytime but tenters are supposed to get prior approval…?

Heysen Trail

The Heysen 56: Laundry Soap

Tuesday, November 01, 2016


Zero in Kapunda. I lazed around in the morning, then went to the laundromat (there’s a laundromat!) only to discover that it had no detergent dispensers. Searching for small quantities of detergent at the grocery store, I bought a 4-pack of ‘laundry soap’, assuming that soap = detergent. No, it’s bars of soap.


My mind was boggled about why someone would want bars of soap instead of detergent. A friend suggested that they’re used for washing with a washboard. I – just skip the rest of this paragraph if you’re not interested in reading more about washing – looked it up online, and found this: ‘By the end of the century there were plenty of wrapped bars of commercial, branded laundry soap sold at moderate prices. To mix up a lather, you could grate flakes off the bar of soap, or even buy ready-made soap flakes in a box.’ So are people actually buying the soap bars from the grocery store and grating them to do their hand washing? Or do they just rub the bar on the clothes? If anyone can shed further light on this, I’ll send you $2 worth of laundry soap. Except I won’t since I’m definitely leaving that 500 grams in Kapunda.

I had supper in the dining room of the pub where I’m staying (Sir John Franklin, $30/pp). An elderly couple was concerned that I might be lonely sitting alone, and the woman came over twice to ask whether I wanted to sit with them. I replied that I would be happy to if they wanted a guest, but I didn’t care about sitting alone. The woman said that no, she wasn’t guest-fishing. They kept talking about me at their table, which was nearby, and I could hear everything! Sometimes the woman would even repeat herself at a louder volume since her husband was slightly hard of hearing! One of my favourite comments was the woman saying ‘I could go and ask her since I’m a woman, but you can’t since you’re a man and she would take it as…[suggestive silence]’. NO, I REALLY WOULDN’T. I SEE YOU (WIFE) SITTING RIGHT THERE. Also my clothes have not been washed in two weeks, but do you know exactly how people use laundry soap? (What if the entire market for laundry soap is based off of people thinking that it’s detergent?)

After supper I went up to my room, found that I had locked myself out, and went down to the bar to find an employee to let me in. I saw a man who I talked to yesterday there, and he said to someone: ‘This young lady knows what she’s doing. And she’s obviously got the intelligence to do it.’

Me to pub employee: ‘Hi, sorry but I locked myself out of my room.’

Heysen Trail

The Heysen 55: Hello Hallo

Monday, October 31, 2016 – 15 km


I packed up and began walking early this morning, passing into cattle territory. I was wary of the cows since in the Marschalls Hut logbook some hikers mentioned being chased uphill, but when I came near a group of cows on a road, they ran away. Then more cows started running up from great distances to follow the original cows. As I stood watching that display of questionable intelligence, I started wondering: when you’re chased by cows, what would they do if they actually caught you? Would they trample you or stop a short distance away? Or maybe they’ve developed a sense of irony and would start devouring you alive (since they can’t make fire with their hooves to cook you medium rare)? If they’re omnivores, could you trick them into eating beef jerky (because you’re twisted)?


Other than when I missed a stile and had to backtrack, the walk was simple today. I met two section hikers walking sans backpacks. They were on the other side of the fence (see the aforementioned ‘missing a stile’).


When I arrived in Kapunda, I immediately went to the hardware store. It was huge, but no gas canisters. I should have 2-3 uses left in the canister I’m carrying, and there are a few towns and a hut ahead… I decided to resupply with non-cook foods and hold out until Bridgewater. Besides the lack of gas, I was disappointed by the absence of Halloween decorations except on one store (the takeout/pizza place), but I did see people in costume. Ahhh a tiny bit of Halloween! I missed it last year too, so I’m deprived.