I knew my first week on the trail was going to be hell, but Day 3 was something else.

Quite honestly, Day 3 of the Heysen Trail was the hardest 24 hours of in my life. When I finally arrived at Wilpena Pound Resort in the late afternoon, I was on the verge of throwing in the towel and maliciously burning it to ash. Physically and mentally I was done.

Daily Diary – Day 3

A combination of bulldogs clips, tape, rubber bands and plastic bags were holding together my leaky water bladder. I had spent the first two days carrying this mess, but I hoped, after an excruciating end to Day 2, the hiking poles I’d previously stashed in my bag would help support my crumbling frame on Day 3. This wobbly construction was delicately placed into my rucksack and I departed the cozy Yanyanna Hut.

Fortunately, the extraordinary landscapes throughout National Parks of South Australia’s Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park were enough to get me through the morning.

Day 2 The scenery in every direction was mindblowing

360° of mind-blowing scenery.

Day 3 From the mountain tops to the gully floors

From the mountain highs to the gully lows, unique landscapes are constantly on offer in the National Park.

I was sceptical going into the trail, ‘would I really need hiking poles?’ I’d used them over a few days trekking through Peru earlier in the year and they were nothing but a burden. This time around, however, they made all the difference, particularly on the steep downward slopes heading through the undulating ABC Range.

ABC Range is so named because of the number of peaks was first supposed to be “the same as the letters in the alphabet”. There are, in fact, many more.
Heysen Trail Map Sheet 8

After a bright, but breezy start to the day, I saddled up for lunch and reached for my water bladder only to discover my mornings’ handyman efforts were wasted. Only a small puddle remained and my bag was again soaked through. I barely had half a litre of water to get me through the next 12 kilometres of unyieldingly hot track. My heart sunk. This was going to be tough.

Day 3 I was too exhausted to truly appreciate the scenery on offer

I was too exhausted to truly appreciate the stunning scenery on offer.

Over the next few hours, I had a glimpse into what a dehydrated explorer might experience stumbling through the outback. I was overheated, my head was spinning and every part of my ailing body ached. The purposeful strides I had taken during the morning’s hike had turned into cumbersome shuffles, tortuously edging one foot in front of the other. By the time I reached the Wilpena Pound Resort Campground, I was shot.

Thankfully, later that night the Resort Bistro fuelled me with the best chicken parmy of my life. This deep-fried masterpiece, plus several electrolyte-filled drinks, elevated me to a point at which I could tackle an epically long Day 4.

All the details.

Trail distance covered

21.98km

Price

Sites from $14 per site + park entry fee. Book online via wilpenapound.com.au

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

The steep, narrow walking trail that gyrates it’s way through the ABC Range and down through the Bunyeroo Valley requires some considered negotiating. This was followed by some straightforward, but bumpy vehicle tracks leading into Wilpena Pound.