Response from the Friends of the Heysen Trail about the Proposed Bundaleer and Wirrabara Greenways

Southern Flinders Ranges from New Campbell HillThe ownership and management of the Bundaleer and Wirrabara Forests may soon change, following the Mid North Forests Future Strategy which commenced after the devastating bushfires of 2013 and 2014.

The State Government is proposing to use the Recreational Greenways Act 2000 to protect the Heysen and Mawson Trail networks for recreational access in perpetuity for use by walkers and/or cyclists. This will create a greenway over sections of the Heysen and Mawson Trails within Wirrabara and Bundaleer Forests that are proposed to be sold to private parties.

We have some concerns with regard to the proposed changes, which we have outlined in our submission below. Our main concerns relate to the proposed change to the route in Bundaleer that removes the section walked from Curnow’s Hut to New Campbell Hill and consequently removes the extensive views across the Spencer Gulf as well as extending the distance.

Submit your feedback via yoursay.sa.gov.au/greenways by COB Monday 12 June 2017.

Our first End to End Maintenance program weekend

Adrian Rogers, one of the team of Maintenance volunteers, replacing a marker plate in the Deep Creek Conservation Park

The Friends new End to End Maintenance program commenced on the Mother’s Day weekend with a two day camp based at Cape Jervis.  Twelve volunteers plus the section leader Albert Schmidke and his colleague, Richard Triggs worked on the Trail between Cape Jervis and Tapanappa in Deep Creek Conservation Park.

The weather was perfect for maintenance work although the chill breeze later in the afternoon was piercing.  As a result we had two full days of hard work maintaining the trail.  There was plenty of pruning, plating and posting – large amounts of undergrowth needed to be cut back, many old plates had faded and needed to be replaced and several new marker posts were erected to help walkers on their way.

As a result, the first two sections on the trail are in good order and ready for the onslaught from End to End 12 this coming weekend.

Working through two End to End sections in the one weekend proved to be a considerable challenge.  While the team coped very well and the majority of the planned maintenance work was completed, some sections were a little light on as far as pruning is concerned.

The team celebrated on the Saturday night with a very pleasant dinner in the Cape Jervis Tavern.  Seven local guests attended the dinner in an effort to build relationships with local communities.  Their responses were very positive which suggests that this initiative may assist us to enhance the reputation of the Trail and generate positive local interest.

Overall the feedback from all of the volunteers and our dinner guests has been very positive. We have received several constructive suggestions about how we can improve arrangements for our maintenance next camp to be held on June 17 and 18..

For that trip we will be moving along the trail from Tapanappa to Waitpinga. If you are interested in joining the maintenance group for that weekend, you can check the details and register via the Walk Calendar on our website.

For more information on the End to End Maintenance can be found in this bulletin

More trees on the Heysen Trail – thank you to our volunteers.

 

Thank you to the many volunteers who have helped plant trees on the Heysen Trail. The efforts of the Greening Committee and volunteers since 2013 are visible in a number of locations along the trail.

As an example of their work, the trees planted at Worlds End a few years ago can now actually be seen along the road at Duttons Trough (south of Burra).

Most of the trees are still only about knee high but they are starting to stand out from the other roadside vegetation.  The best of the trees is scarcely large enough to hide behind (although the photo shows Neil is having a good try!). It has almost doubled in size over the last twelve months.

Our tallest tree, the Worlds End Wonder, is 1.75m and has shot up recently.

The good rains we’ve had over the last 12 months have helped, but the trees have also benefited from special care and supplemental watering provided by the Greening Committee.

In addition to Duttons Trough, the Greening Committee has also managed plantings at Centennial Drive in the Mount Crawford Forest, Hiskeys Hut and along the Bundaleer Channel reserve south of  Spalding.

This year we are planting at Lights Pass on the Lavender Federation Trail.

Thanks again to the Greening volunteers and End to End walkers who have helped. Your efforts will be appreciated by walkers in the years ahead.

 

Registrations have opened for the first End to End Maintenance Weekend

 

Registrations have opened for the first Heysen Trail End to End Maintenance (E2EM) week-end to be held at Cape Jervis on 13th & 14th May.

If you are interested in helping out on the trail, you can register on the Friends website in the same way as you would for a walk.

We appreciate the contribution you will be making to maintaining the trail, so registration is free.

You may have already seen the earlier news item on End to End Maintenance weekends. If not, check it out now to find out more about the program.

There will be more End to End Maintenance week-ends throughout the walking season. These are now listed on the walks program on the website.

If you want any more information on the weekends, please contact the Office.

End-to-End Maintenance Weekends

Commencing in 2017 we will be rolling out a new maintenance program for the Heysen Trail aimed at:

  • Maintaining the Heysen Trail at a consistent, high standard;
  • Assisting section leaders with their maintenance responsibilities;
  • Developing our relationships with landholders and others along the trail;
  • Providing FOHT walkers with a different rural weekend experience.

The Concept

  • A specific schedule of weekend trips each month of the walking season;
  • Involving small groups of up to 10 volunteers per weekend.
  • Provides a maintenance program for the whole trail over a five year cycle;
  • Focus on trail basics – signage, stiles, obstacles (eg rocks, fallen trees);

Individual Requirements

  • Basic handyperson skills are desirable, not essential (training can be provided);
  • A good level of physical fitness and willingness to participate.

Participation

  • Aim to share the load between a larger group of volunteers so that individuals (particularly leaders) would attend just one or two weekends per year;
  • Section leader involvement is keenly sought;
  • Accommodation allowance and Saturday night meal will be provided by FOHT

What next

Early in the New Year, you will be able to view maintenance walks program in our Walks Calendar under the new walk grade End-to-End Maintenance.

If you would like to be involved, or have an interest, please contact the Heysen Trail office.

Volunteers Sought for Trail Development

Trail Development team working at Cobbler Creek.

Trail Development team members working at Cobbler Creek.

Much of the Heysen Trail infrastructure is now 30 years old.

The Friends Trail Development Committee have plans for many upgrades to both the trail and walker facilities. These plans include –

  1. Trail remarking and track work – a 3 year project commenced this year.
  2. Camp site facilities – toilets, water tanks and benches are planned for more sites.
  3. Hut upgrades to include benches, seats, painting etc.
  4. New huts are being considered at White Park; Simmons Hill; Cuddlee Creek and a Freemans hut replacement.
  5. Rebuilding the Waitpinga Beach sand ladder.

You can help

We need help to get these projects moving, both in the field and at our Cobbler Creek shed.

  • Waitpinga Beach walkway: We need a team to urgently undertake work on the sand ladder. The existing structure is in a dilapidated condition.
  • Cobbler Creek shed, Salisbury East. Urgent work is required to produce items needed for the campsites and huts. We propose to initially open the shed once a month, on a Tuesday from 9 am to 3 pm, for this work.

We would love to hear from anyone with time available and an interest in the trail to HELP us.

Contact us to discuss how you can help.

The trail needs us, please help.

Proposed Heysen Trail Realignment in Flinders Ranges Draft Management Plan – Have Your Say

Aroona-Valley-and-Heysen-RangeThe Flinders Ranges National Park Draft Management Plan has been released for public consultation. It sets out objectives and strategies for the ongoing protection and conservation of the natural and cultural values of the Park.

Our Concerns

We at the Friends of the Heysen Trail consider that the plan is well presented and a valuable addition to strategic planning for the region. We wholeheartedly agree with the investment in upgrading the hiking opportunities in the Park.

We would suggest the plan provide the vision of a diverse trail network of well managed trails covering the many diverse landforms, plus the natural and cultural features of the park. And as such we would have to disagree on the suggestion to re-align the Heysen Trail.

On page 18, “Developing a world class multi-day walk (with minimal impact hiker accommodation) based on a realignment of the Heysen Trail along the foothills of the Heysen Range between Bunyeroo Gorge and Aroona Campground.”

The most cited comment on hikers completing the Heysen Trail is that it provides such a variety of experiences. The countryside, vistas, flora and the fauna.

The proposal has the Heysen Trail continuing along the valley floor (mostly accessible by vehicle), rather than climbing to seeing the breathtaking vistas, trekking through geological ages, and through Sir Hans Heysen painting landscapes.

The proposed re-alignment of this section of the Heysen Trail:

  • miss out on some great vistas back to the Heysen Range and from walking through the Three Sisters from Sir Hans’s paintings. It misses the diversity of this country.
  • miss the magnificent vistas looking across the ABC Range to the rugged profile of Wilpena Pound and the Heysen Range, are one of the great iconic features of the Heysen Trail and we recommend this be retained.
  • Importantly it misses the Golden Spike at Trezona – Enorama Creek – Australia’s most significant geological feature, a world renown feature. Walkers on the Heysen Trail currently walk past the defining point, the ‘Golden Spike’. Other features such as the glacier rock are also passed on the Trail.
  • The current alignment takes the hikers through historic landscapes and includes two hiker huts. These old shepherd huts have been converted to hiker shelter and accommodation. They retain the original architecture and rustic character of the original construction. These would be by-passed with the proposed re-route. Hiker accommodation is currently available at these two huts.
  • The proposed re-alignment would require significant investment on trail construction and hiker accommodation. We consider this an unnecessary expense.

Working with the Government

The Friends are happy to provide ongoing assistance with the management of the trail within the park, working with Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resource (DEWNR) to enhance and improve trail and walker experiences.

We are finalising our fuller submission to respond to the draft plan. Review the plan yourself and share your views and any concerns at environment.sa.gov.au/haveyoursay

Responses close July 31, 2015.

Negotiation for Re-route over Headland at Balquhidder Continue

Billionaire Kerry Stokes' marathon land talks with SA enter sixth year

The State Government is still in negotiation to secure a re-route of the Heysen Trail across the spectacular headland at Balquhidder Station.

A story published in the Australian Financial Review on 15th April 2015:

Billionaire Kerry Stokes’ marathon land talks with SA enter sixth year

Marathon negotiations between billionaire Kerry Stokes and the South Australian government over a potential re-routing of a popular bushwalking trail through the $25 million Balquhidder Station pastoral property owned by the businessman are dragging into their sixth year, as talks also continue about a potential acquisition of adjacent clifftop land by Mr Stokes.

SA Environment Minister Ian Hunter says $1.1 million was allocated in the 2014-15 state budget for the Heysen Trail project on the Fleurieu Peninsula, south of Adelaide, but work hasn’t been able to start yet because the lengthy negotiations are still continuing. They first began in 2009.

Mr Stokes, who is the executive chairman of television and mining services group Seven Group Holdings which this week anointed his 38-year-old son Ryan Stokes as its next chief executive, bought Balquhidder Station in 2007 for close to $25 million through one of his private companies, Australian Capital Equity.

The SA government has been negotiating with the management of Mr Stokes’ private entities to gain public access to a spectacular clifftop coastal strip of the 3064-hectare property, and as part of the overall project there have also been lengthy talks over a proposal by Mr Stokes to buy a separate 31-hectare parcel of land which adjoins the property. That 31-hectare parcel at Tunkalilla Beach also has prime coastal views.

Mr Hunter told the SA Parliament last month that negotiations were still continuing, but the government was determined to press on with a “realignment” of the trail that would require the agreement of the private owners of Balquhidder Station, which runs large numbers of sheep and cattle.

“The ideal outcome would be to have the Heysen Trail continue along the spectacular clifftop landscapes down that part of the Fleurieu,” Mr Hunter said.

He said that section was one of the most spectacular parts of the region, with the Heysen Trail route currently moving back inland away from the coast around the Balquhidder Station land.

It is understood an agreement was close to being finalised just prior to the March 2014 SA election won by Premier Jay Weatherill. But then further complications set in, including changes in the people heading the negotiations.

The SA government had previously tried to negotiate with the former owners of Balquidder Station, the McGregor family, about gaining access to the coastal land to enable an extended 18-kilometre strip of the trail to proceed. The entire Heysen Trail runs for 1200 kilometres, starting near the Flinders Ranges in northern SA, but the most popular section is on the Fleurieu Peninsula closer to Adelaide.

The McGregor family had owned the pastoral property, which has more than nine kilometres of coastal frontage and spectacular views across the ocean to Kangaroo Island, for more than 50 years.

Billionaire Kerry Stokes in talks to buy coastal land to reroute Heysen Trail

Click on image to view larger imagePlans are afoot to re-route a section of the Heysen Trail near Balquhidder Station and Tunkalilla Beach to take in more of the spectacular coastline.

An article on news.com.au (and in today’s Advertiser) has brought to light that billionaire Kerry Stokes is in “secret talks” with the state government to buy a parcel of coastal land at Tunkalilla Beach.

The Advertiser quotes Mr Stokes as saying “This is an amazing part of South Australia and I am looking forward to ensuring its heritage and also opening up the Heysen Trail.”

“We were approached by the department to extend The Heysen Trail and create some hard-stand facilities for youth engagement.”

The re-route of the Heysen Trail along the coast through Balquihidder Station is something we’ve been keen on for a while. A re-route and upgrade of the Heysen Trail along the South Coast could see the Trail become a significant drawcard for walkers both locally, nationionally and internationally.

We welcome the prospect of improved facilities for people of all ages to hike the highlight section of the Heysen Trail South Coast from Cape Jervis to Victor Harbor.

Ten new camping platforms

Click on image to view larger image

In recent weeks multi-purpose camping platforms have been constructed at four campsites, with six more to be built.

This program of constructing ten platforms has been permitted with funding from donations by the End-to-End 3 group, who completed the Heysen Trail in 2011.

Volunteers have installed these four multi-purpose camp platforms at:

In the near future, platforms will be built at Smith Hill Campsite and Black Jack Shelter.

View an album of photos on Facebook.

Click on image to view larger image
Click on image to view larger image