It's starting to feel like home.
‘Home’ can mean a great deal many things. Some might relate the term to a physical house or place. Others may align it with spending time with family or loved ones. Others again might feel at home wherever they feel safe and secure. After a year and a half of travelling aimlessly, and an additional 6 weeks of hiking, my childhood region of the Barossa Valley felt very much like home. Nostalgic memories flooded back as I re-entered the vineyard-riddled district on Day 41.
Heysen Trail Diary – Day 41
After a substantial 35-kilometre Day 40, I expected to wake up in a world of pain at the Kapunda Tourist Park. I stepped warily out of my cozy queen-sized bed and braced for my tight calves and pinging hamstrings. But nothing. Where were the body goblins? Understandably, my body felt a little cumbersome, but there were no burning aches? Had I fully adapted to life as a long-distance hiker? I blissfully zipped around the campground and into Kapunda’s bakeries before making my way back out to the trail.
Although I’d passed a gazillion budding crops by Day 41, the stretch to Greenock marked the first time the Heysen Trail had carved directly through a field of growing grains. At their highest, the maturing grasses reached halfway up my torso. In more summery circumstances, I’d have felt unnerved; but, as the region was still a month or so from ‘snake season’, I barely gave my exposed ankles a second thought.
While the Barossa is known for its German influences, Greenock has a distinctly Scottish flair and was once known as ‘Little Scotland’ thanks to the Scottish immigrants who called this village home.
The trail soon crossed over the industrious Greenock Road, through another barley crop and up into a cluster of forest-filled hills. My friends’ owned a section of this dense scrubland and I had arranged to camp here overnight to savour the property’s impressive lookout, which surveyed much of the territory I’d trekked over the last week.
I had a surprise in store on my final ascent to the campsite. I was greeted by another old school mate Emily, her husband Matt and their son Darcy. They invited me to visit Matt’s parent’s home a short distance away through the trees—the house was impressive!
The entirely off-grid homestead possessed a greenhouse, solar panels and its own energy-producing wind turbine—an inspiration for the growing number of households attempting to live self-sustainable lives. I riddled off a bunch of questions before the sun nosedived and I had to leave to set up my tent.
I took one last opportunity to absorb the dazzling lookout before the provincial panorama vanished into darkness—this stunning twilight setting would be my last view of South Australia’s mid-north pastoral district. I’d miss the swathes of luminous green, but I was equally satisfied to close another chapter of my Heysen Trail journey. A varied assortment of vineyards, forests and ocean views awaited me over the next three weeks.
The still night air and the serene display of twinkling stars provided the distinct feeling of ‘calm before the socialising storm’. Day 42 would be something special. I’d organised a community fundraising event to join me on the stretch from Greenock to Tanunda. 27 attendees, including family, friends and those following my adventure had signed up for a ’14-kilometre hike’. Little did they know I’d completely muffed my distances and they were getting an extra 6 kilometres added to the walk. Value for money, right? Gulp!
All the details.
Trail distance covered
Greenock (Private Property)
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.
Steady dirt tracks lead into tricky mid-paddock terrain and finish with a steep ascent into Greenock’s hills.