As the bright rays of the sun lowered over the range, our weary group emerged from the rocky trail and and headed for the comfort of the cars, most of us no doubt secretly glad that we were not the designated driver!
Today we had walked 20 km of the famous Heysen Trail in our quest to complete it end to end. The initial spark of enthusiasm to do this walk came from a small group of friends who were walkers and were looking for a challenge. The idea was mooted, maps purchased and trips to the Friends of the Heysen Office organised. Initially a small group of novice women began the walk at Cape Jervis, with little concept of required time or distance to be covered per day. The undulating hills of the Fleurieu, the whales frolicking at sea and the wide range of wildlife on this section of the track, inspired us and a positive ripple engulfed us — we can do this!
As a result basic requirements were upgraded – good walking shoes, suitable clothing to reduce the sun’s rays , wet weather pants and jackets, beanies and hats, gloves, good quality socks and a GPS Navigation phone. From a basic core of friends a few more girls were invited along the way and the group expanded. We now had a map reader and guide, designated 4 wheel drive vehicles for access, girls responsible for accommodation, food, our own photographer and up front pacer to keep in view!
So far we have covered over 500 km taking advantage of weekend trips, day trips and five day trips to areas further afield. Along the way we have solved the problems of the world, shared personal milestones within the group such as family weddings, engagements, impending births and day to day highs and lows! We are fitter, stronger and supremely confident we will complete the journey. We have been lost on a number of occasions, walked extra kilometres, backtracked and found the signs. Frustrated, cranky with each other at times, leg weary, hot from the relentless sun and then drenched from the skies opening up on us. We have walked tracks not normally ventured on, across private property and passed people living a quiet enviable lifestyle.
In the northern Flinders Ranges we were given a satellite phone as our only means of communication in case of an accident. We have dodged the huge orb spider webs strung across paths, waiting to trap a weary victim, encountered the odd snake, and admired large herds of kangaroos and cows grazing on green pastures. The wildflowers and natural vegetation are a delight, and to be out of the office having lunch alongside a running creek is inspirational!
Walking through paddocks marked “Beware of Bull Camel” and “Enter at your own risk “ has increased our pace!
We are definitely not bush campers but prefer accommodation that has a shower and good bed every night.
Accommodation ranges from stations and private cabins and a chance to feel part of the local community for a few days. Even raising the eyebrows of the locals as they see a group of women emerging from the bush and heading to the “local” for a good meal!
With many kilometres still to cover we are now regretfully looking to the end point and rather reluctantly heading in that direction. What will we do when we finish this? How will we recreate this wonderful experience? But have no fear, we are already mooting various other scenarios. Will it be the Great Ocean Walk, Mount Blanc Walk or The Amalfi Coast?