Heysen Trail re-opens with close of Fire Danger Season

The entire length of the Heysen Trail re-opens tomorrow following the conclusion of the Fire Danger Season in the Mount Lofty Ranges, Mid North and Flinders Fire Ban Districts.

The northern half of the trail, from Wirrabara, did not open as usual on April 15, as the dates for the Flinders Ranges Fire Ban District had been extended to April 30.

The trail will will remain open until November 2015 when the 2015/16 summer Fire Danger Season begins.

Two small sections of the Trail are currently closed following the January Sampson Flat Fire:

  1. from Cudlee Creek through to Checker Hill Road (Southern Guide, map 3.7, or map 2C Stone Hut Road to Tower Hill on the new mapsheet)
  2. from Mewett Road to Watts Gully Road (Southern Guide, map 3.8, or map 2C Stone Hut Road to Tower Hill on the new mapsheet)

Planning work with stakeholders is well progressed, and we anticipate the re-route will be mapped and marked towards the of May. We will post information about the temporary re-route shortly.

During this fringe period, we remind hikers to be vigilant. A Total Fire Ban may still be declared on selected days over coming weeks.

View more information about how the Fire Danger Season affects the Heysen Trail.

View the CFS media release about Fire Danger Season confirming the conclusion of the Fire Danger Season.

Heavy Rains Filling Water Tanks

Photo courtesy of @creber295, 17/04/2015, titled '5 hour wait for 120mm of rain to settle so we could get through.' https://instagram.com/p/1kjFboo4Hm/

Photo courtesy of @creber295, 17/04/2015, titled ‘5 hour wait for 120mm of rain to settle so we could get through.’ https://instagram.com/p/1kjFboo4Hm/

Heavy rains on Friday in the Flinders and to an extent in the Mid North will be welcomed by this season’s hikers on the Heysen Trail.

During audits conducted from January to early April we were aware that some tanks were low, and with the hiking season starting soon (with the end of the Bushfire Danger Season) we were about to remind hikers to be vigilant with water planning.

The advice though should always be followed: when planning multi-day walks and camping, ensure that upon entering a campsite you still have sufficient water to make it to a known water supply, should the water tank be found to be unexpectedly too low.

We anticipate that Friday’s rains have had a positive effect on tank levels. Reports late night suggest that Yanyanna Hut, which we knew to be almost empty, has been filled to half full. We knew of a number of other tanks that had fallen to 1/4 level, and we hope they too have been filled.

The rains will be welcomed by farmers, and we hope will bring new life to the landscape.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s 8th April 2015 assessment lists much of the area of the southern 2/3 of the trail as facing a Serious or Severe Deficiency in rainfall. Heavy rains that fell over Easter only resulted in 1-5mm of rain (low) in the northern Mt Lofty Ranges and Flinders Ranges.

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.

Warren Bonython Recognised with a New Walking Trail at Hiltaba Station

Warren Bonython has been recognised with a new Walking Trail named after him.

Robert Alcock and Andrew Robertson represented the Friends of the Heysen Trail at the opening ceremonies last Thursday and Friday at Hiltaba Nature Reserve, Gawler Ranges, 650km from Adelaide.

Warren Bonython Loop Walk

10km loop walk, 5 hours
Leaving from Hiltaba Homestead and traversing over Mt Hiltaba.

View trail map

Betty and Bob Lewis Loop Walk

2km loop walk, 1 hour
Leaving from Pretty Point

View trail map