Safety Requirements whilst hiking the Heysen Trail

As with all bushwalking, if you’re planning a walk on the Heysen Trail, you need to be prepared.

Make sure you have:

  • Good walking shoes, or boots, with grip soles. Thongs, sandals, elastic-sided boots and smooth-soled sneakers are not appropriate
  • Thick socks
  • Wet weather gear – a three quarter length waterproof rain jacket is ideal (showerproof spray jackets and quilted parkas are not waterproof and create a danger of hypothermia)
  • A warm jumper or jacket of wool/polyester fleece. Cotton shirts and windcheaters have minimum insulation when wet and retain water
  • Shorts, loose comfortable wool or synthetic pants (jeans are not suitable as they are cold when wet and dry slowly
  • Shade hat and sunscreen in warmer weather. Warm hat/beanie in cooler weather
  • Water (a minimum of two litres) and food
  • Compass and map
  • First-aid kit
  • Whistle

Those planning to embark on a longer, or overnight walk will also need to consider taking thermal underwear, waterproof over-trousers, water, provisions, a torch, lightweight tent and sleeping equipment.

First Aid Kits

There are two first-aid kits that should be carried: a Personal Kit and a Group Kit.

All walkers should carry a Personal Kit containing the following:

  • Wide elastic bandage and triangular bandage with safety pins
  • Assorted adhesive dressings and adhesive tape
  • UV sunblock, throat lozenges, lip salve and paracetamol
  • Insect repellant, water purifying tablets and personal medications
  • Note book and pencil

Group Kit – one per group:

  • Bandages – elestic and adhesive
  • Wound dressings and non-stick sterile dressings
  • Sterile eye pads, cotton buds and micopore paper tape
  • Needle and thread
  • Scissors and tweezers
  • Re-hydration preparation, eg Gastrolyte
  • Antiseptic lotion and cream
  • Two large plastic garbage bags
  • Current first aid manual

Safe Walking

Plan your trip – don’t overestimate how far you can walk. Consider the fitness and abilities of all members of your group when planning a walk.

When estimating the time of your walk, you’ll need to consider the distance, how much climbing is involved and the abilities of your entire walking party. As a rule, allow three kilometres per hour on flat ground and an additional on hour for every three hundred metres in altitude you need to climb. Don’t forget to actor in time for rest and meal breaks.

Ensure you have up-to-date information and maps. Test your equipment before you leave. Dress appropriately abd remember the weather can change quickly.

Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. In case of longer walks, write down you route and leave it with a responsible person.

Emergency Information

If you get lost, try to retrace your route until you find a marker or recognise a feature. If you can hear sounds of human activity, shout to attract attention. Be on the lookout for well-travelled roads or occupied buildings.

In the event of an accident, or if someone becomes too ill to continue, provide appropriate first aid and shelter. If the sick of injured person cannot be moved, seek assistance. Determine whether the person can be helped by the group, or if extra help is needed. Make contact with Emergency Services by phoning 000 or 13 1444. If contact cannot be made and rescue is needed, a competent person with first aid skills should stay with the injured or ill person to reassure and care for them until help can arrive.

If you have to wait to be rescued, look for shelter and water on the trail. In hot weather, stay in the shade, drink water and reduce loss of body fluids by moving only during the cooler part of the day. In cold weather, keep out of the wind and try to remain warm and dry. If possible light a fire, or huddle with others.