I love the Heysen Trail so much… I got the tattoo!

Friends of the Heysen Trail

Originally published in the Trailwalker magazine: Spring 2011, Sep 2011

By the time you read this article, the End-to-End 3 group will have completed our six year trek of the Heysen Trail. At last count, I believe 51 people will have completed the trail on August 13. Quite an achievement, thanks to all who put in the hard work to make it possible for us. And after all the hoo-ha my tattoo has created on the trail in 2011, I thought it would be a good idea to write an article for the Trailwalker about the reasons behind it.

My Heysen Trail tattoo

My Heysen Trail tattoo

I had my first tattoo done in April 2010 on my upper right arm (the monogram on the front of the South Adelaide Football Club Guernsey), and wanted another. But it had to be something meaningful to me. I thought it would be great to get a tattoo of something to do with the Heysen Trail, but wasn’t sure what. It was on one of our End to End walks in 2010 that we were all given a sticker or two of the new logo to stick over the old markers on the trail that we came across that day. The sticker was a perfect size for my leg, so I slipped a sticker into my pocket for the tattooist, and my first sitting was in November 2010, and the final touch up was done about six months later.

Why did I join the Friends and start my End to End Journey?

The Friends even had an “End to End” Group starting at Cape Jervis in April 2006. I just laughed at the suggestion I could ever attempt such a thing! Little did I know what an obsession completing the Trail would become!

It all started back in 2005 when my psychotherapist suggested I get some exercise to help overcome depression, which I thought was a good idea. What sort of exercise I thought? I wasn’t a fan of jogging and I am a poor swimmer. Gyms didn’t appeal to me either at the time. Walking could be an option I thought, but walking around the bitumen streets of Adelaide wasn’t that appealing. I had been past this little office downstairs in Pitt Street a number of times on the way to the Central Market which I thought had something to do with walking, so decided to drop in to see what they were all about.

I can’t recall who I saw in the office that day, but they suggested I try a Trailstarter to see how I went. Maybe then I could advance to a Trailwalker. The Friends even had an “End to End” Group starting at Cape Jervis in April 2006. I just laughed at the suggestion I could ever attempt such a thing! Little did I know what an obsession completing the Trail would become!

Yourambulla Range

Yourambulla Range

My first Trailstarter back in October 2005 was around Kuitpo Forest with Ray Blight leading. It was cool day and wet under foot and seeing what conditions were like when I got there made me ask “why am I doing this”? But funnily enough I did enjoy tramping in the muddy conditions. So I did commence on that first day (April 30, 2006) at Cape Jervis with End to End 3.

I realised on the second day of our first weekend away in Kapunda when I really struggled to complete the day that I had to get myself fitter if I was ever going to finish the Heysen Trail. So I started going to the gym, got myself a personal trainer to get started, and lost 10% of my body weight. So from starting with the “Smell the Roses” group
I’m now with the Fast Group, although I do still struggle up hills a bit!

Some of the great (or not so great) memories of the last 6 years include:

  • The “spaceship” on day one;
  • Marshmallows on Tungkillo Beach and the steepest hill on the trail 25 June 2006;
  • The Waitpinga Cliffs, August 2006 which remain a favourite section of the trail.
  • Finishing in near darkness after 29 km from Cleland to Montacute Heights in September 2007.
  • The bus getting bogged on Nugget Road in May 2008.
  • Red wine for lunch during the hailstorms in July 2008.
  • Gladstone Gaol stay and Simon’s early morning wake up call.
  • The terrible weather on 4 September 2010 from Dutchman’s Stern to Woolshed Flat and the softness of the latte sipping crowd.
  • My first foray into the Flinders Ranges. Despite living in Adelaide all my life, I’d never been to the Flinders Ranges before.
  • Themes for the day/weekends and all the trouble people went to to get in the spirit of the occasion.
  • Dinners catered by the local communities; Beers and “champers” after the walks.
  • The Guards of Honour formed for those completing the trail along the way.

It will be an exciting and emotional experience to finally finish the trail and get the certificate; but it will be a bit sad in a way not to catch up once a month during the walking season with my End to End 3 friends. Still, I’m sure I’ll still see you all on the trail at some stage!