With the easing of COVID-19 health restrictions on May 11th, the campsites and huts along the Heysen Trail are now open to ‘through’ walkers.
The easing of restrictions means that the trail is now open for small group walks. Currently, under Step 1 of the SA Government Road Map to Recovery bushwalking is permitted, provided the group size and social distancing advice is observed.
Additionally, through walkers need to keep informed while they are on the trail. The COVID situation may change while they are on the trail and this could affect their ability to continue to walk. This particularly applies to walkers from interstate, as border crossing arrangements may change from time to time.
Before setting off on walks on the Heysen Trail, you need to be aware of the following issues:
1. Trail closure caused by the Cudlee Creek bushfire
Forestry SA has closed access to the Heysen Trail in the vicinity of Cudlee Creek, with the affected section shown on this exclusion zone map.
It covers sections of the following maps:
Heysen Trail Sheet Maps 2B & 2C and
Southern Guidebook Map 3.6.
The exclusion zone commences at the eastern exit of Montacute Conservation Park (Grid Ref 983 377) and concludes when the trail leaves Forestry property at Snake Gully Rd (GR 014 402).
Due to the location of the trail in relation to the extensive exclusion zone, finding an alternative route is presenting some difficulties. The travel restrictions caused by COVID-19 have further delayed the task. However, our Trail Development Team is attempting to find a way, but it may be some time before a re-route is approved.
All walkers are advised to avoid the area. Trail closure signs have been erected by Forestry SA. Any walker planning to walk the whole trail this year, including through Cudlee Creek should email the Friends Office to seek advice on alternative arrangements. One option would include taking vehicular transport to avoid the area.
Unfortunately the excluded area includes Grandpa’s campsite, which is now closed. Due to the extent of the fire zone and the danger of falling trees, we do not anticipate the campsite being available for several months, if at all during 2020.
As a result of this closure, there is no campsite between Woodhouse and Scotts Shelter, a distance of 76 kms. Through walkers should be aware of this, and plan accordingly. Refer to the Service Directory and Transport for planning information.
2. On Line Bookings for Forestry SA campsites
Forestry SA has initiated an on line booking system for the following campsites along the trail:
- Kuitpo Forest: Chookaloo & Rocky Creek
- Mt Crawford Forest: Rocky Paddock & Chalks.
No fees apply to the Heysen Trail huts in Mt Crawford Forest, ie Scotts Shelter & Rossiters
3. Temporary closure of the Montacute Conservation park
Parks SA have advised that the Montacute Conservation Park will be closed from 6pm, Sunday 31 May until 6pm Friday 5 June 2020 for a feral pest control program. Heysen Trail walkers need to avoid the area during this period.
4. Correction to the website accommodation list – camping is not permitted in the Finniss Conservation Park
Parks SA have also advised us that the old campsite in the Finniss Conservation Park was incorrectly shown in the accommodation list as being available for camping. The campsite was closed some years ago in the interest of protecting the park.
5. Tanks – take care if you are relying on them for your water supplies
Over summer we have become aware that several of the tanks along the trail require maintenance. Due to travel restrictions caused by COVID-19, we have been unable to travel to these remote locations to fix/replace the tanks.
Fortunately, indications are that we can anticipate good winter rains. However, the supply of water in our tanks cannot be guaranteed.
So, if the walk you are planning includes Beetaloo Creek or Eyre Depot we suggest you carry additional water or arrange a water drop.