The sunbaked 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 on Day 13. The distant bleats of grazing sheep were the only indication of the sight which would greet me in the morning. Following a fortnight of transversing dusty semi-arid landscapes, everything changed on Day 14.
Heysen Trail Diary – Day 14
The sunrise had leaked through the shed’s weatherworn roof by the time I awoke. Once I opened the equally rusted door, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Only one word could describe the view—green. The scenery had cultivated overnight from rugged brown bushland to rolling grassy fields; I was getting my first taste of South Australia’s vibrant mid-north pastoral district.
The clamorous livestock that I heard the night before—plus a widespread sample their droppings—lined the winding route through the nearby hills. These fertile lands were just a glimpse of the colourful countryside I would cross over the coming weeks.
Although, it wasn’t long before the terrain returned to the familiar parched conditions. The landscape shifted back and forth for several hours; one field would glow gloriously green with bountiful eucalypts and grazing kangaroos, the next would turn earthy brown and be covered in a smattering of baked spinifex—a weird and wonderful phenomenon.
After a few more kilometres and several agonising recollections of Year 9 Geography, I realised I had crossed Goyder’s Line.
Goyder’s Line is an imaginary boundary, drawn in the 19th century by surveyor general George Goyder. This perimeter marks 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. I had greatly underestimated the day’s elongated slopes and when the trail finally levelled out onto Horrocks Pass Road, my feet were burning red hot.
Constant elevations do have one positive, however—stable phone reception. I discovered that my parents were in the area and we promptly organised to meet en route to Wilmington’s Beautiful Valley Caravan Park. This rendezvous would save me several hours of fatiguing walking, but consequently, add a handful of kilometres to Day 15’s itinerary. Nevertheless, I would have done anything to put a line through the day’s unrelenting journey.
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 long rangy hills is utterly exhausting. A beautiful, but brutal, journey to Wilmington.