Great weather for ducks, not so for walkers.

The first 17 trail days were near idyllic—temperate climates, clear blue skies and minimal wind. Other than a few abrupt exceptions, including suffering dehydration in Wilpena Pound, a gloomy walk through The Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park and almost getting blown off the top of Mt Arden, the conditions were perfect. However, unlike Day 18’s impending storm, my luck was about to dry up.

Heysen Trail Diary – Day 18

In the wee hours of the morning, I discovered why hiking on ‘rest days’ is recommended. Despite tired eyes and a sleepier mind, my body was remarkably restless. As my legs were accustomed to walking significant distances each day, the energy that remained from Day 17’s rest was instead used to boot Mount Remarkable Hotel Motel’s bedsheets—an odd response from a pair of overworked legs.

Notwithstanding my agitated sleep, I felt fresh. A day spent fattening my belly and catching mates in Melrose had recharged my batteries for the long, isolated haul to Crystal Brook. I shovelled down one last cooked breakfast, threw on my restocked rucksack and rejoined the trail in the outskirts of the town.

Field south of Melrose on the Heysen Trail

Fields, fences and a godforsaken forecast filled Day 18.

After a day and a half of eating everything in sight, I’d hoped my lean frame would cast more of a shadow. My new rain jacket—kindly donated by my new besties Alex and Celia—draped clumsily around my withered waist. It may not have been a perfect fit, but I was extraordinarily grateful as the sky quickly turned forebodingly grey. The jacket, at least, matched my clownishly bulky wet weather pants. I can only imagine what the farmer thought, looking on from his ute, as a blob of flapping black fabric wafted through his paddock in the wet, blustery conditions. Nevertheless, he checked to see if I was ‘ok’—probably in the head, more than anything.

Fortunately, most of the terrain was as forgettable as the weather. Other than the occasional charming provincial landscape, the trail followed muddy roads and swampy tracks. The gale didn’t mask any unmissable sights.

Canola field south of Melrose on the Heysen Trail

The first of a gazillion canola fields on the Heysen Trail.

By the time I arrived in Murray Town, my energy was drained from battling the storm. I was thankful to find a warm shower and a functioning kitchen attached to the community campsite. I slipped $7 inside the provided yellow envelope, dropped it in the honesty box and unpacked my belongings in the vacant shelter.

Settlers arrived in 1883 and turned Murray Town into a bustling community of bakers, grocers, butchers, pawn brokers and general stores.
mtr.sa.gov.au

This settlement was less of a ‘sleepy town’ and more of an ‘unconscious one’. I did not see a single soul in the entire township, I was back to living in solitude. A handful of passing cars provided the only ‘excitement’ for my stay. However, after one look at the forecast, I knew there would be more than enough action on Day 19.

All the details.

Trail distance covered

16.53km

Accommodation
Price

From $7 via the honour system.

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

Despite the inclement weather, the flat, uncomplicated terrain remained super cruisy. The 2-kilometre off-trail stretch into Murray Town was a necessary evil.