Access to off-track walking may be under threat in the Flinders Ranges and beyond – Pastoral Act Review

Maybe a slightly alarmist subject line, but possibly the case. Walkers ability to access pastoral leases may change, with changes to the way pastoral leaseholders are allowed to manage the land, read on.

The info below has been provided by Walking SA, and is being sent to members of the Friends of the Heysen Trail so they have the information, and can then completed the survey if they have the interest. (many sections of the survey will not be applicable to walkers, so answer “no comment” where applicable). A thorough survey response might take 20-30mins. At the bottom of this email is a table of relevant questions from the survey. The closing date for comments has been extended to 5pm Monday 30 September 2019.

This is of keen interest to FoHT members who undertake extra-circular walks further north, and for any planned FoHT northern trips away. The Friends are with Walking SA in wanting to retain the right to walk through the pastoral country as has been our right since settlement. Sure there will likely be some areas with no, or restricted, access to allow for tourism, cultural sensitivities, or mining activities, yet this should not restrict activity outside those limited, defined areas.

Review of Pastoral Act may impact access for recreational bushwalkers in the Flinders Ranges

What is the issue?

The State Government is seeking input in order to review the Pastoral Act.

Much of the land in the Flinders Ranges north of Hawker is not private freehold land but instead is leased from the State Government to pastoralists to undertake grazing ventures[i], and recognises the rights of Aboriginal people.

As the land is leased, people can undertake recreational off-trail bushwalking in these remote locations. They must notify the lessee of their intentions to walk, and the lessee can only deny access in certain scenarios.

To clarify, by “off-trail bushwalking” we often mean following old vehicle tracks, or walking in a low impact environment, and can include camping for a few nights.

The Act also provides what are called Public Access Routes (PARs), which are often used by 4WDers for recreational use. They will likely probably remain, but our concerns are for access to other lands not part of PARs.

How could changes to Pastoral Act impact on recreational bushwalking? What are our concerns?

Tanks-the unreliable water supply for walkers

One of the many tanks along the trail installed and maintained by the Friends of the Heysen Trail

Heysen Trail walkers are reminded that in some locations on the trail, the supply of water can’t be guaranteed

Walkers, especially through walkers, need to be aware that water and its quality cannot be guaranteed along the Trail.

Whilst we endeavour to have up to date information on water levels on all our tanks, due to the remote location of some, this is not always possible.

Be prepared

  1. Plan for your walk, by checking the location of tanks along the trail

    There are approximately 70 publicly accessible water tanks and supply points along the trail, not including addition sources in the towns the trail passes. Generally you will pass at least one water point a day.

    You can find a list of these water sources in the Accommodation list on the Friends website. By conducting a ‘Water tank’ & ‘Water only location’ search on that page, you will find the water points along your intended route.

  2. Look at what other walkers have reported about each of the water supplies.

    Read any comments that have made by other walkers about the tanks and campsites. You will find them at the bottom of each page of the  campsite and tank tank location description.

    As the trail heads into the more remote and arid areas in the north, the water supply is less reliable. Read what other walkers have posted recently and as a back up, carry enough water to last into the next day if you’re unsure.

Send us reports on the condition of tanks, campsites and the trail.

You can help other walkers and our Office volunteers keep a track of water supplies. Tell us about tank water levels and quality in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section on the relevant Accommodation listing.

If you see maintenance work that needs attention, you can also report that to our Trail Development team. Post a comment and we will get the problem assessed and fixed as soon as possible.

If you have any questions or information that will assist us in maintaining the trail, you can also contact the Friend’s Office.

We trust this will help you and fellow walkers enjoy the trail.

The Friends welcome Joshua West as a new Ambassador for the Heysen Trail.

The Friends of the Heysen Trail are pleased to announce that Joshua West (also known as Trekking West)  has accepted our invitation to act as a voluntary Ambassador for the Heysen Trail.

Josh joined the Friends prior to his journey through-walking the Heysen in 2018. His main aim in doing so was to raise awareness and funds for the Black Dog Institute.

During the walk he shared his photos, videos and experiences via Facebook and a daily blog on his website.

His blog continues to be available to inspire and help others who are encouraged to walk the trail.

Relive Josh’s Heysen Trek

Josh’s Daily Diary reports are descriptive and contain some wonderful photos of his adventure on the trail. Read from the comfort of an armchair, they will put you in the boots of an inspirational Heysen Trail walker.

Josh is not one to rest after his Heysen achievement, He is currently walking the Camino de Santiago.

As an Ambassador for the Heysen, Josh will continue to promote walking this fabulous long-distance trail. The Friends appreciate his support in meeting our goals of expanding  interest, knowledge and engagement with the trail.

In addition to the Friends website, anyone with a desire to explore long-distance Heysen hiking can check out Josh’s detailed information at www.trekkingwest.com/

Animals are Cute, especially New Born Lambs

Please don’t interfere with livestock.

We all know how cute young animals are, especially new born lambs frolicking after their mums.

It can be distressing for walkers on the Heysen Trail to see what look like abandoned  lambs, wandering along the trail.

It is tempting to “rescue” them! Please don’t!

Rarely do the mothers abandon their young, however if you pick them up, they almost certainly will.

Please leave all livestock alone when hiking the Heysen Trail.

Book Launch: Heysen Highlights Sunday 14 April

During this Sunday's Hiking Expo we'll be officially launching our Heysen Highlights book

During this Sunday’s Hiking Expo in Belair National Park we’ll be officially launching our Heysen Highlights: A companion guide to the Heysen Trail book.

The book will be launched by John Schutz, Chief Executive of Department for Environment and Water, as part of the Hiking Expo ceremonies at 12noon.

Author Simon Cameron will be on hand to sign any copies purchased on the day. Simon joined the Friends of the Heysen Trail in 2001, the same year that he started walking the Trail. He has never stopped walking it. As anyone who has had the joy of walking with Simon will known, there is so much to see and so much to discover along the Trail that there never will be a reason to stop.

In this companion guide the Heysen Trail is broken into 58 sections, for each day there is an overview of what to expect and what to look out for when hiking. By explaining the historical context, of the Aboriginal people, European explorers and settlers and the development of the trail, walkers can enrich their experience of the trail and its landscape.

Hearing about Reconciliation from E2E8 walker Mark Waters

We were privileged at the December meeting of Council to have the opportunity to hear a presentation about Reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people from one of our members. Mark Waters completed the trail with E2E8 in August and worked within Reconciliation SA for eight years. The presentation initially arose from members of E2E8 asking questions about what Aboriginal country we cross as we walk along the trail. This led the group to decide to commence its walks with an Acknowledgement of Country. It seems awareness was growing among Friends as similar discussions had occurred during a couple of other E2E walks I joined last year. Mark took the initiative to write to the Friends about generating a broader discussion.

The Reconciliation SA website outlines the following information:

‘Reconciliation’ is about Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians talking, walking and working together to overcome the reasons that there is division and inequality between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. Reconciliation has both symbolic and practical elements. A spirit of goodwill, mutual respect and recognition of the effects of colonisation on Australia’s first people are the symbolic cornerstones of reconciliation effort.

In South Australia, an Acknowledgement of Country is a way of showing respect and awareness of Aboriginal owners of the land on which a meeting or event is being held, and of recognising the continuing connection of Aboriginal peoples to their Country. It is a demonstration of respect dedicated to the traditional custodians of the land or sea where the gathering of participants is being conducted. Government agencies and community organisations are adopting the practice of acknowledging the traditional custodians of Country at events, ceremonies, meetings and functions.

Awareness about Aboriginal history in SA and connection to country has grown since the Heysen Trail was developed 30 years ago. Council members were very interested and receptive to the discussion and felt that it was a good opportunity for the Friends to consider how we can understand more about the deep history of the areas we traverse. This is likely to be an ongoing conversation within the Friends and will also be raised at our next meeting with senior officers from the Department for Environment and Water, as owners of the trail.

Our new book Heysen Highlights includes a map identifying Aboriginal language groups along the Heysen Trail. Members are strongly encouraged to find out more and to consider showing respect through an Acknowledgement of Country at relevant times during the walk season. Council will provide further information about the Aboriginal lands that the trail traverses and a guide for appropriate words that may be used by walking groups.

Melanie Sjoberg
President, Friends of the Heysen trail

Bookings for End-to-End 14 open on Monday March 18th 2019.

Our End-to-End 14 walks commence on Sunday May 5th 2019.

The Friends’ 14th End-to-End group (E2E14) will set out from Cape Jervis on Sunday 5th May. If you want to join the group in its 1,200 km trek along South Australia’s iconic walking trail, here is your chance.

How to register for the first walk.

Bookings for the first walk will be via the online registration system  and will open at 12.01am on Monday 18 March.

The number of walkers who can join the group is limited by the number of leaders and the capacity of the buses we use: approximately 75 walkers, including leaders.

Due to the anticipated high demand for joining the group, bookings are taken on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. We expect bookings will fill very quickly.  Our online registration system is set to switch over to an overflow list once the number of bookings nears capacity.

Apart from the overflow list, we do not maintain an early registration/waiting list. In fairness to all, bookings are taken only using the on-line registration system. This means if you want to make sure of joining the group, you and your friends need to stay up late on Sunday night and register for the walk as soon as possible after midnight. If you have created a family membership, you can book for all members of your family simultaneously.

If you are thinking of joining the first walk, the best advice is to become familiar with the walk booking process before March 18th. You will find it quicker to book onto the walk if you have already joined the Friends, either as a financial or a guest member. You can find out more information about membership of the Friends here.

If you have questions about our End to End walks you can find the answers here.

Introductory walk on Sunday March 31.

To give everyone joining E2E14 a taste of what lies ahead, the walk leaders have organised a preliminary walk on Sunday March 31.

Walkers who register for the May 5th walk from Cape Jervis will receive an email invitation to register for the Introductory walk. The location of the will be the Cleland Conservation Park.

This walk will be a good opportunity to meet the leaders and also ask any questions you may have about E2E walks. With a distance of about 10 kms, the walk will be a bit shorter than the first official walk. However it will still give a taste of what lies ahead with sections of narrow paths on hillsides and some challenging hill climbs.

It is a loop walk so you will be starting and finishing at your cars.

Good luck to intending walkers. The leadership team look forward to joining you on the trail.

Heysen Highlights book released

Book: Heysen Highlights. A companion guide to the Heysen Trail. 264 pages, RRP $39.95

In this companion guide The Heysen Trail is broken into 58 sections, each comfortably walked in one day. For each day there is a overview of what to expect and what to look out for when hiking the Heysen Trail, this companion guide offers a wealth of discovery on every journey along the Trail, with no shortage of historical, geological and environmental highlights along the way.

By explaining the historical context, of the Aboriginal people, European explorers and settlers and the development of the trail, walkers can enrich their experience of the trail and its landscape.

Author Simon Cameron joined the Friends of the Heysen Trail in 2001, the same year that he started walking the Trail. He has never stopped walking it. As anyone who has had the joy of walking with Simon will known, there is so much to see and so much to discover along the Trail that there never will be a reason to stop.

Buy online for $39.95, with postage from $13.05.

About the book

In his companion guide to the Heysen Trail, Simon Cameron offers a personal perspective, gathered over nearly 20 years of walking the Heysen Trail. “Over time I have gathered a multitude of stories that have enriched my experience of the Heysen Trail and I have tried to share them in this book.”

Heysen Highlights is broken into 58 sections, based on the Friends’ End-to-End walk programme that carries groups from Cape Jervis to Parachilna Gorge over a series of 60-day walks. “I have combined and adjusted some of the shorter walks to provide 58 sections.” For each day’s walk there is a brief overview of what to expect and what to look out for.

The book begins with Cape Jervis so the format favours the south- to-north walker, but the short chapters are intended to be a ‘pre- walk briefing’ and not an ‘in hand’ walking guide.

Simon reminds us that the Heysen Trail runs through a diversity of South Australian terrain, varying from granite coast, bushland reserves, plantation forest, marshy meadows, broad acre farms, rolling hills, stone ridges and rocky creeks. “The trail was designed to follow the most scenic and challenging routes possible, providing memorable vistas and showcasing iconic landscapes.”

It also passes through a cultural heritage spanning tens of thousands of years of occupation and nearly two centuries of colonial settlement. Even more unique is a geological landscape that spans the origin of animal life itself. “All of this offers a wealth of discovery on every journey along the Heysen Trail and there are no shortage of highlights along the way.

“Inescapably the book reflects my interests and many chance discoveries, and I know this book is only the beginning of an ongoing process of compilation, updates and corrections.”

The maps in the book will only orientate the reader with the sections in the local region. Detailed Heysen maps are readily available and they are an essential part of any walk because they provide the geographic framework for the experiences that you will gather along the way. “The ‘walk briefing’ offers my personal guide of points of interest for each section and I am sure you will add your own.”

In section one, for example, we are told that the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula is difficult to see other than on the Heysen Trail because there is very little vehicle access. It is one of the great coastal walks with rugged cliffs, granite bluffs, untamed ocean,  tucked inlets, and wild beaches. All of this is offered with endless seascapes, and nature’s proudest displays of flora and fauna. Dolphins cruise the surf, and sea birds ply the skies while kangaroos and echidnas share the path. The luckiest walkers might see migrating Southern Right Whales.

Tapanappa, in section two, is reputed to mean ‘pathway’ or ‘stick to the path,’ which is essential on this coastline. Any attempt to move cross-country is dangerous. A distressing number of rescues and even fatalities have occurred in the Deep Creek Conservation Park. Deep Creek is a true wilderness, to be treated with respect as well as awe. A short detour to the Tapanappa lookout, at the end of the section, captures the natural majesty, and a glance to the east provides a tantalising view of Tunkalilla Beach – another jewel on the Trail.

Leave only footprints, take only photographs

Leave only footprints ….

Heysen Trail walkers are well aware of the general principles related to walking which are captured by the expression “leave only footprints, take only photos”.

Many sections of the trail traverse National and Conservation Parks. It is therefore a useful reminder that the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 includes regulations about activities in parks that the general public must comply with.

Disregarding these regulations may result in park users being issued a fine.

The following extracts of these regulations are particularly relevant to us:

15 – Fires

  1. A person must not, without the permission of the relevant authority, light, maintain or use a fire in a reserve in contravention of a ban or restriction imposed by the relevant authority.

16 – Possession and use of chainsaws

  1. a person must not, without the permission of the relevant authority, have control of, carry or use a chainsaw in a reserve.

26 – Bringing animals into reserve

  1. Subject to this regulation, a person who has control of an animal must not, without the permission of the relevant authority, bring it into a reserve or permit it to enter a reserve.

30 – Interference with earth etc

A person must not, without the permission of the relevant authority—

  1. remove from a reserve any-
    1. soil, rock, mineral or similar material; or
    2. wood, mulch or other dead vegetation; or
    3. fossil or archaeological remains; or
  2. dig or otherwise intentionally disturb any soil or similar material in a reserve; or
  3. intentionally disturb any-
    1. wood, mulch or other dead vegetation in a reserve; or
    2. fossil or archaeological remains in a reserve.

Need more information?

Before you head off to a park, you can find further information about at the What you need to know section of the Department for Environment & Water website.

Of particular interest to walkers are the sections outlining the rules about the use of BBQs and lighting campfires and which parks dogs are permitted.

Walkers be warned – Bees!

Bees love Canola

Now is the time you need to take caution when walking near flowering crops. We are now at the highest risk of being attacked by bees.

August to October sees canola crops come into full flower providing picturesque bright yellow fields. The flowers attract bees and the installation of commercial bee hives (clusters of white boxes). Bees don’t take kindly to any interference (intentional or not) and can attack en masse.

What you need to do:

  1. To reduce the risk, walkers are strongly advised to avoid walking between the bee hives and neighbouring canola crops in flower.
  2. If your walking trail passes a group of hives, take a wide berth away from them. If possible, stick to made tracks or walk along fencelines.  You should avoid walking through crops when off trail.
  3. If you have experienced reactions to bee stings, you are responsible for carrying appropriate medication. You should also advise your walk leader of any medical condition before you commence your walk.