After two weeks of hiking, the dry landscapes are beginning to blossom.
Other than the pale glow from a luminous moon and a solitary beam of light from my shaky headlamp, I arrived at Catninga Shed in complete darkness, after a 16-kilometre trek on Day 13. Following a fortnight transversing dusty, arid landscapes, everything was about to change on Day 14. The bleats from hundreds of distant grazing sheep were the only indication of what would greet me in the morning.
Daily Diary – Day 14
The sun had already leaked through the holes in the shed’s tin roof by the time I woke up. I had little idea of what was awaiting me outside. Once I opened the rusted door, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Only one word described the view; green. The landscape had changed overnight from rugged brown bushland to rolling grassy fields; I was getting my first taste of the vibrant pastoral district.
The livestock I had heard while walking the night before (plus their mass of scattered droppings) lined the winding route of the trail through the nearby hills. These lush lands were just a glimpse of the colourful country I would see over the coming weeks.
However, it wasn’t long before the setting returned to the parched conditions. The scenery shifted back and forth before my eyes. One field would be a glorious green with bountiful eucalypts and grazing kangaroos, the next would be earthy brown and covered in baked spinifex; a truly weird and wonderful phenomenon.
After a few more kilometres and several agonising recollections of Year 9 Geography, I realised I had just crossed Goyder’s Line.
Goyder’s Line is an imaginary boundary, drawn in the 19th century by surveyor general George Goyder, marking the 250-millimetre rainfall area from the Eyre Peninsula around to the Riverland.
For much of the day, this mishmashed countryside distracted me from the rigours of the region. The undulating hills were a day-long fixture until I descended onto Horrocks Pass Road; the flat track that led me into Wilmington and a much-needed shower. I had underestimated the elongated slopes, and my feet were burning red hot by the time the terrain levelled out.
High elevations do have one positive, however; stable phone reception. I was thrilled to hear my parents were in the area and we promptly organised to meet on my way to Beautiful Valley Caravan Park. This rendezvous would save me several hours of fatigued walking tonight, but consequently, add a handful of kilometres to tomorrow morning’s itinerary. I would do nearly anything to put a line through today’s exhausting terrain.
All the details.
Trail distance covered
The region has hot dry summers with cool to cold nights and cool, wet winters. Autumn and spring can be warm and mild with occasional periods of rain or showers.
The trek through the region’s long rangy hills is utterly exhausting. A beautiful, but brutal, journey to Wilmington.