Rain, rain, go away. Come again once I've done the trail.
If I had a ‘taste’ of wet weather walking on Day 18, I had a twelve-course meal complete with complimentary drinks on Day 19. Other than a short break for lunch, the skies remained open from start to soggy end. I’m not sure if I had ever witnessed so much rain, let alone hiked through it.
Daily Diary – Day 19
The morning started promisingly enough. The sunrise leaked into the Murray Town Campsite kitchen, where I’d slept the night, and brightened my otherwise unappealing porridge. I continued to thaw out via another warm shower before I packed up my belongings and stepped out of the enclosure. I had walked about twenty metres before it started pouring and I cowardly retreated inside the shelter. It was another hour before I made a break for the trail, but any effort to remain dry would be futile.
The rain and the wind were unrelenting, but, similarly to Day 18, the terrain was mild, navigable and bland. The trail followed boggy roads and slippery fields for most of the day until I entered my first ‘tree plantation’ in the Wirrabara Forest. While the woodland scenery was an improvement, something felt stuffy about an environment constructed with such regimentality.
Wirrabara derives its name from an aboriginal word for ‘a place of big trees’.
I arrived at the Go-Cart Track Shelter, in the depths of the Telowie Gorge Conservation Park, and found an enormous tank, overflowing from the day’s downpour, and an open structure that offered limited respite. Under ‘normal’ circumstances, the corrugated iron roof would have provided an adequate shield from the rain, but the fierce westerly winds left the entire area susceptible to the harsh conditions. There was no hiding. I unshackled the bag from my aching shoulders and shrinkingly skulked behind the tank.
The ground was damp, cold and hard, but an immediate relief for debilitated legs. Then it dawned on me, the shelter was built on sandstone. My tent pegs wouldn’t be able to penetrate this unyielding surface. After several failed attempts to erect my refuge for the night, both in the dense stone and out in the blustery elements, I sat back down behind the tank’s mediocre cover and collected my thoughts. I was running out of options.
Looking around for inspiration, I spotted a stack of large rocks in the firepit. Could these weighty slabs pin my tent to the ground? After some delicate assembly, ensuring my belongings didn’t fly off into the wild, I finally had somewhere to call home for the night.
By the time I unpacked my bag and discovered that, despite the in-built rain cover, most of my possessions were drenched, I was physically, mentally and emotionally drained. I mustered just enough energy to place a few handfuls of scroggin in my mouth before my head collapsed on my soggy blow-up pillow. I was out cold. How could I possibly back it up on Day 20?
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 trail stays flat, straight and uncomplicated until the Telowie Gorge Conservation Park takes you up along a range and through a nest of spiky bushes. I recommend wearing long pants.