After a merciless day trekking through the mud, rain and wind, I needed a moment.
Along the trail, you must continually push yourself to place one foot in front of the other—a battle of persistence over monotony. Chew through the tough times to arrive at the good. On a rare occasion, however, a hiker must pause and take stock. Day 20 was one of those days.
Heysen Trail Diary & Radio Interview – Day 20
I awoke in an eerily calm tent. Before I passed out from exhaustion on Day 19, the wind at the Go-Cart Track Shelter was on the verge of yanking the red and white canvas from its stitches and blowing the material into the Telowie Gorge Conservation Park. The muted morning light brought a sedate breeze and little sound from the usual chorus of twittering birds—even the natives were in recovery mode.
I lay motionless in my sodden sleeping bag, wondering if I had the energy to move, let alone walk the scheduled 20 kilometres to Beetaloo Creek Campsite. I finally gathered the strength to lean forward and inspect the scattered carnage from my rucksack. The relentless rain had worked its way under the weatherproof cover and drenched most of my possessions; clothes, bedding, toiletries, first aid and filming equipment, all damp. I soon realised my roll of toilet paper had papier-mâchéd itself to the bottom of my bag—my spirit would not last the day. I decided to camp another night under the shelter, dry my belongings, de-muddy my boots and reset my muddled head.
Telowie Gorge and its diverse landforms have been created by Telowie Creek, which over time has cut a deep valley through the range. Today, the gorge creates a variety of habitats for animals and plants from both the southern temperate and arid regions.
I crawled out of my tent and discovered the rain had thankfully ceased, the wind had eased but the fog had remained. The thick moist mist prevented a view beyond the scattered trees that circled the campsite boundary. Due to the whipping rain and blinding fog on my ascent to the shelter, I couldn’t find my bearings. My disorientation would only clear when the conditions did; I had to wait.
I gingerly waddled over to a dead tree and draped each of my dripping clothes over its branches. The ‘bush clothesline’ created a weird, but oddly satisfying, sight. After solving several unconventional problems since leaving Melrose, I felt resourceful. It was a strangely proud sensation following a day of questioning my sanity.
My stomach emitted a tortured groan. It had every right to complain, I hadn’t eaten a proper meal in 24 hours and, after almost 3 weeks of ‘neglect’, it was letting me know it needed to be filled. I crept back into my clammy sleeping bag and prepared myself breakfast. A significant amount of time passed before I regained the energy to crawl back outside; the landscape was startlingly different.
The thick fog, that had previously blocked my sight, had lifted. I discovered I was perched on a range overlooking Port Germein and vast expanses of Spencer Gulf. I couldn’t believe my eyes. An incredible surprise and an even better panorama.
I spent the rest of the day ogling this gorgeous view, including a stroll along the nearby BBQ Track and capturing one of my favourite sunsets on the trail. The day may have not been particularly productive, but thanks to the gorgeous twilight setting, it was not a waste. This remarkable view had rejuvenated my batteries for an assault on Day 21.
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.