Beyond the Heysen Trail

Following the Flinders Ranges north to Mt Hopeless

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The first vision for the Heysen Trail was a trail that followed the spine of the Flinders Ranges, from the mid-north town of Crystal Brook in the south to Mt Babbage in the north. The trail was constructed from southern Cape Jervis, following the Flinders Ranges spine north from Crystal Brook, to Parachilna Gorge in the central Flinders Ranges.

Extending the Heysen Trail to Mt Babbage is no longer on the agenda but it is a good destination for wilderness walkers. This page collates some of the experiences of those walkers, in order to share this with other walkers seeking to follow the way north.

Share Your Information

We encourage anyone who tackles walking north of Parachilna to contact us and share their experiences, track notes, route information or maps so we can publish them on this page.

If you find incorrect information on this page, or can contribute more torwards it, for instance a correction to a pastoral station entry, or addition of a tour operator, please contact us.

Important Information

  • The northern trailhead of the Heysen Trail is at Parachilna Gorge. There is no trail north of Parachilna Gorge.
  • Walkers will need a high degree of navigation skills, using a compass, topographic maps of various scales, and possibly a GPS unit.
  • There are few public roads and few 4WD/old station/old mining tracks, some of which are in very poor condition (and unsuitable for vehicles) and may be overgrown and difficult to follow.
  • Walkers should expect to go for periods of a week or more without seeing anyone else.
  • Sourcing water may be the most difficult logistic to overcome. Water availability from creeks, waterholes, springs, dams and tanks (some old and unserviced) varies from season to season, and year to year. Water drops are often needed.
  • Except for Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park the land is private, you will need permission from landholders. Some land is pastoral lease, some is aboriginal communities, some is national park or wilderness sanctuary. Information about current water conditions from these parties could be invaluable. Please respect landholders and future walkers by gaining permission for all property you cross.
  • There are very few facilities. There is no mobile phone service whatsoever. The way between Parachilna Gorge and Mt Babbage is cut by a single public road, a dirt road from Copley to Arkaroola. 40km north of Mt Babbage lies the Strzelecki Track. The only shops of any sort are at Iga Warta and at Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary.
  • For safety reasons walking parties should consist of at least four members, one to stay with a sick or injured member, the other two to walk to get assistance (which may be more than one days walk away)
  • This area is remote, a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) or similar emergency device should be carried.
  • Rain falls in the Gammons and northern Flinders Ranges (Arkaroola and north) area over summer, not winter. The rain season correlates with the wet season in the continent’s tropical north, rainfall comes from dissapating tropical storms and cyclones. Winter rains from the continent’s southern weather systems fall in the central Flinders Ranges, often not affecting areas in the northern Flinders Ranges. Check recent rainfall on the Bureau of Meteorology’s website – there are rainfall gauges at Hawker in the south, and in the north Leigh Creek, Arcoona Saddle (Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park), North Moolooloo and Arkaroola.

Walker’s Track Notes, Maps

Here are some links to tracks notes, maps, route information, articles and photos of walkers who have undertaken these walks.

2009-2011: Simon Cameron, Jeremy Carter, Graham Connor, Nick Lagos, Steve Wilkinson (part)

Walked three week long walks, carrying lightweight packs, with no vehicle support. Followed creeks, valleys, ridgelines and tracks. La Nina – the warming of the oceans which cause increased rain over much of Australia – was in effect for the last two walks. The second walk was undertaken when La Nina had recently begun, creeks were flowing in the Gammons, the best season in 20 years. The third walk was undertaken when the La Nina effect had intensified into one of the strongest on record, the best season in 40 years.

August 2010: ARPA Bushwalkers

  • Parachilna Gorge to Angepena Station – article

2009-2010: ARPA Bushwalkers, Heysen Trail Group 8

  • Parachilna Gorge to Owieandana Station, Sept 2009 – article
  • Owieandana Station to Terrapinna Waterhole, 2010 – article

2006-current: Nick Landsford, Jerry Foster, Michelle Foster, Trevor Lee and friends

  • Walking with vehicle support
  • Parachilna Gorge to Angepena Station, 2008
  • Planning to walk to Mt Hopeless

2002-2005: Malcolm Blight, Tony Budarick, Alex Richards

  • Parachilna Gorge to the Armchair (north of Arkaroola), 9 days between September 2002 and June 2003
  • The Armchair to Mt Hopeless, 5 days, July 2005
  • Article: Trailwalker article

2000-2001: Gavin Campbell, Dennis Cowling, Les Skinner, Gunther Schmidt, Geoff Wilson, Mark Darter, Norrie Hamilton

  • Parachilna Gorge to Angepena Station, May 2000
  • Angepena Station to Arkaroola, October 2000
  • Arkaroola to Mt Hopeless, May 2001
  • Trailwalker article

Relaxing on the summit of Mount Babbage1986: The First End-to-End walk of the Heysen Trail, a South Australian Jubilee 150 project, Andrew Eastick

1960s: Warren Bonython and friends

  • Crystal Brook to Mt Hopeless
  • Book: Walking the Flinders Ranges, Adelaide: Rigby, 1971 (reprinted 2000, Royal Geographical Society of South Australia) ISBN 0909112258