Mind over matter.

On paper, Day 44 was super simple – a short 11.34 kilometres on a postcard-perfect day lay between me and Rossiters Hut. However, the straightforward path included one mental hurdle that I had yet encountered on the Heysen Trail. For the first time since beginning my adventure, I’d have to pluck myself from the irresistible comforts of home. I didn’t know how I would react. Fortunately, one final heart-warming farewell eased my Barossa departure.

Daily Diary – Day 44

It was nearly 1 pm before I had completed all of my domestic chores, including submitting my soul to the tax office – a task I had delayed for as long as possible on Day 43. The day’s uphill trek to the outskirts of Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park didn’t intimidate me. But, the prospect of hitting the trail again solo, following two days of sociable familiarity, left me feeling awkwardly detached. Nevertheless, I had to push through it.

My mind kept recycling one strong-willed statement: you will only do this once, make the most of it. I had just over two weeks before I arrived at the Cape Jervis trailhead. That’s all! Two weeks! There was so much still to see. Bountiful plantation forests, a sprawling cityscape, the vast blue ocean, stretches of pristine beach and another dozen or so conservation parks awaited me on the trail. Sentimentality could wait.

Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park is home to native birds such as blue wrens, finches, honeyeaters, parrots and thornbills. Many of the bird populations are declining in the Mount Lofty Ranges, even in parks, due to fragmentation of their territories.
parks.sa.gov.au

I picked up where I left the trail at the southern end of the Tanunda main street. Weaving through classical small-town suburbia, I soon arrived at the lengthy Basedow Road. Then, after several kilometres of countrified housing estates and famous vineyards, I arrived at my final Barossan goodbye.

An old friend by the name of Adele had actively followed my adventure and generously invited me into her home for a parting lunch. She was truly one of my biggest trail angels. But in truth, this wonderful woman had supported me (as well as numerous others in the region) for far longer than my Heysen Trail journey. I was eager for a long-overdue catch-up.

Some two hours later, after a substantial schnitzel roll, a delicious dessert, two glasses of wine and a thoroughly engaging chat, I, somewhat sluggishly, continued my trek toward the valley’s neighbouring hills. The sun had already begun to dip by the time I lumbered up the livestock-lined slopes.

Bethany Hills Heysen Trail

Looking back over the valley, I was astounded by the beauty of the vineyard-laden landscape. I took a few moments to breathe it in. My boyhood hometown had never looked so brilliant. I’d spent nearly two decades living in this illustrious part of the world, but never really appreciated it’s majestic splendour. My mind was blissfully calm with little to no thought of my imminent isolated struggle.

Trekking West Road Kaiserstuhl Heysen Trail

The path transformed from a flat valley into a bumpy range.

The rising moon had made a headstart on the setting sun and, for the first hour of my journey through Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park, the celestial body bled red over the surrounding bushland. I could only vaguely remember the area from a primary school excursion some 20 years earlier and, while the night sky illuminated a surprising amount of the dense vegetation, the dimly lit silhouettes weren’t enough to kickstart my hazy memory. Thankfully, the route’s retroreflective trail markers gleamed brightly in the moonlight and the path soon spat me out at Rossiters Hut.

Kaiserstuhl Red Moon Heysen Trail

An eerie blood moon lit the parkland.

With my belly still bulging from Adele’s delicious farewell lunch, I didn’t bother preparing dinner and promptly tucked myself into bed. Despite averaging a meagre 10.3 trail kilometres a day since leaving Kapunda, my body felt tired. Before long, I fell asleep. I’d have to rediscover my hiking legs on Day 45, however, as the rest of the Heysen Trail would see a sharp increase in daily distances.

All the details.

Trail distance covered

11.34km

Accommodation

Rossiters Hut

Price

Free.

Climate

Cool damp winters with light to heavy showers and some days of rain. The ranges are wet and cool during winter but are warmer during autumn and spring. Summers are warm to hot and relatively dry.

Terrain

The path through Tanunda is simple enough until you arrive at the dirty great big hill behind Bethany and up to Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park.