It might not be easy being green, but it's certainly easy on the eye.

For the most part, the terrain throughout the Flinders Ranges was immaculately untamed. While there were bursts of groomed vegetation en route to Wilmington on Day 14 and alongside the rain-soaked paths of Day 18 and Day 19, my eyes had grown accustomed to the sights of red dirt, dusty brown tracks and seas of parched saltbush. However, everything was about to change for the greener on an undauntingly downhill Day 22.

Heysen Trail Diary – Day 22

While I had, more or less, adjusted to the rigours of long-distance hiking, my body had not yet adapted to the bitterly cold mornings—I doubted it ever would. The low-lying Beetaloo Creek Campsite was covered in a frosty dew that ‘forced’ me to hibernate in my sleeping bag until the sun had warmed the countryside. I couldn’t indulge my visceral senses for long, however; I had almost 26 kilometres to cover before I reached the town of Crystal Brook and my next batch of desperately-needed baked goods.

As Edward John Eyre was passing through this region in May 1839, the sparkling water of the stream inspired him to name the town Crystal Brook.
Crystal Brook Town Sign

I slowly packed up my tent, as my fingers excruciatingly thawed, and walked over to a nearby property to refill my water bladder. When I arrived in Beetaloo Creek on Day 21, a local landowner was pulling out of the adjacent driveway and we began chatting. He mentioned that the water provided at the camp wasn’t particularly appealing and offered me the crystal clear contents of his squeaky clean rainwater tank. Timing is everything! After several arduous days on the trail, my luck appeared to have turned.

Barley Field Crystal Brook on the Heysen Trail

The pristine pastoral district.

Day 22’s journey was remarkably pleasant. Sunny conditions, a slight breeze, straightforward terrain and a bag bereft of bulky food supplies allowed me to coast down the final tail of the Flinders Ranges. The landscape quickly transformed from hilly slopes to flat roads surrounded by fledgling fields of barley, wheat and faba beans.

Faba Beans on the Heysen Trail

A fertile field of faba beans.

The uncomplicated path also ventured through the gorgeously green Bowman Park and along the no-longer-aptly-named (yet still charming) Crystal Brook creek. By the time I reached the Crystal Brook Caravan Park, my eyes had had their fill of flourishing vegetation—it was time to fill my stomach.

Silos at Crystal Brook Oval

A sunset, a set of silos and the Crystal Brook footy oval. A truly authentic country setting.

After I set up my tent, washed my clothes and took a sinfully long shower, I walked the short journey into Crystal Brook to hunt for guiltless calories. I stopped briefly to examine the ‘Explorer’s Trail’ signage at the main street entrance. The town slogan read ‘Where the Flinders Begin’ —a message that seemed contradictory to my journey so far. I didn’t want to leave the ranges’ striking landscapes, but the equally vibrant pastoral district awaited me on Day 23 and beyond. It was time for a change.

All the details.

Trail distance covered

25.95km

Accommodation

Crystal Brook Caravan Park

Price

Available here.

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

Quite possibly the cruisiest 26 kilometres I’ve ever walked. But that might be because I had just left the undulating Flinders Ranges. Other than a few small bumps through the Crystal Brook creek and Bowman Park, the path is along level roads.