Today's view was some time in the making.
After weeks of expansive farmlands, beaten tracks, busy roads and leafy parks, I yearned for a sea change. By Day 55, I’d spent over a month transversing pastoralised and forested landscapes. While I will always cherish the Heysen Trail’s unimaginable diversity, both my legs and my eyes had had their fill of rolling paddocks. Following another soul-crushingly familiar start to the day, an afternoon sighting of the endless blue ocean completely revolutionised my disengaged outlook.
Heysen Trail Diary – Day 55
The inside of the tent was already illuminated by the time I drowsily opened my eyes. Blurred silhouettes and shuffled footsteps muddled around outside in the Inman Valley Memorial Hall carpark. Exactly how long was I unconscious? Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I shimmied my torso toward my cluttered mess of technology and unplugged my phone from the charger. What the flip? I’d slept for 11 hours! I’m not sure I’d ever slept that long, and certainly not inside a lightweight sheet of fabric pitched adjacent to an industrious country road.
I threw on my hiking clothes and poked my head out the vestibule. “Good morning!” sprang a voice from the other end of the parking lot. “Ah, morning” I blurted back. “I knew the Community Market was popular,” she continued, “but you’re the first person to camp out the night before.” I snorted embarrassingly, retreated back to the shelter and hurriedly shoved my scattered belongings into my rucksack. I had likely parked in somebody’s stall space at the end of Day 54. How awkward.
I dismantled my tent, sheepishly waved goodbye, nipped into the Inman Valley General Store for breakfast and stepped back out onto the trail.
Despite the extra sleep, every step felt like I was wearing cement-coated hiking boots. Much like Day 51, my motivation, rather than my energy, had vanished. The last few days of open green grazing lands and intermittent forests had now blurred into one. My head needed a scenic overhaul. I lethargically slapped one foot in front of the other until I reached the crossroads before turning toward Newland Hill Campsite.
As the campground facilities left much to be desired, I decided to trek the roadside journey into Encounter Bay in search of baked goods and cosy lodgings. The walk along the busy Waitpinga Road cut between a shallow valley, then out overlooking the seaside village. The resulting blue-hued view was exhilarating. After eight Heysen Trail maps and 55 arduous days, I had arrived at the ocean’s edge, and not a moment too soon.
Encounter Bay is named for the meeting at sea between Captains Matthew Flinders and Nicholas Baudin on April 8, 1802.
It felt like a heavy internal fog had lifted. The invigorating scent of sea spray permeated my nostrils and expanded my lungs. I realised at that moment, this was the change my dwindling enthusiasm had so desperately needed. Day 56 would be different.
All the details.
Trail distance covered
Cool damp winters with light to heavy showers and some days of rain. The coastal section is prone to fog and misty rain but is warmer than the inland ranges during winter. The ranges are wetter and cooler during winter but are warmer during autumn and spring. Summers are warm to hot and relatively dry.
A few sticky slopes, but none as daunting as the past few days.