The day my body and my luck both caught a break.
I received my fair share of advice before commencing the Heysen Trail. Some suggestions were helpful, others seemed a little nutty, others I ignored completely. Amongst this direction, there was one unfavourable tip I reluctantly put into practice on Day 17—go hiking on my rest days.
Heysen Trail Diary – Day 17
Despite my weary limbs and the fluffy warm quilt at the Mount Remarkable Hotel Motel urging me to stay in bed, I decided to stretch my legs on an early morning stroll. Fortunately, there may be no better place for a ‘hesitant hike’ than the route I had already covered on Day 16.
The short trek partway up Mount Remarkable seemed both effortless and gruelling. While my legs warmed quickly in the morning air, my mind, knowing I could still be nestled between soft sheets, didn’t appreciate the unwanted workout. Why would anybody put their aching body through this needless activity?
My mood improved rapidly, however, when the glow from the morning sun hit my face and illuminated the surrounding district. The steady breeze rustled through the mallee trees and the various songbirds found their voice once they settled upon a stable branch. At that exact moment, I realised I didn’t see enough sunrises. Why wouldn’t anybody put their aching body through this needless activity?
The town of Melrose and the neighbouring Willochra Plain glittered gold until a stiff wind and a cluster of menacing clouds rolled into view. This ominous-looking change, plus an audibly-rumbling belly, provided me with enough motivation to ramble back down the mountain in search of delicious bakery goods. After eating porridge almost exclusively over the past two and a half weeks, I didn’t need much encouragement.
Breakfast, second breakfast, morning tea, and brunch all came and went before I again met with my mates Alex and Celia. After losing my rain jacket on Day 15, these two generous souls kindly donated their spare to my ailing cause. I promised them hugs, post-trail beers and my eternal gratitude in return. The miracle of Melrose was complete.
Melrose has established itself a hub for the biking community. Tourists travel from the far corners of the world to see what this beautiful town has to offer.
I spent the rest of the day eating everything I could get my hands on, catching up with another old mate (and now local) Chelsea, plus completing an interview on ABC regional radio. Before heading to bed that night, I checked the forecast—it looked wet, windy and woefully wild. Hopefully, the extra carbs would help anchor my withered frame to the trail on Day 18.
All the details.
Trail distance covered
0km (Rest Day)
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.