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 had entered 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.

Day 14 - Morning Hills

The golden morning light illuminated the green landscape.

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.

Day 14 - Arid Paddock

The grassy paddocks didn’t last long.

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.
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Day 14 - Goyder line View

Spot the difference?

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. My parents were in the area and we had organised to meet up on my way to my accommodation for the night, Beautiful Valley Caravan Park. This rendezvous would save several hours of fatigued walking, but add a little extra backtracking to tomorrows itinerary with fresh legs.

All the details.

Trail distance covered

29.8km

Accommodation

Beautiful Valley Caravan Park

Price

Available here.

Climate

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.

Terrain

The trek through the region’s long rangy hills is utterly exhausting. A beautiful, but brutal, journey to Wilmington.