There are few things a hiker looks forward to more than a shower, a schnitzel and to slip between the sheets of a warm cozy bed; today was my day to indulge.

Hawker, a quiet township billed as ‘the hub of the Flinders’, was going to satisfy my creature comfort cravings. Surprisingly, it took me until Day 6 to obsess about ‘food’. I’m not sure if it was the adrenaline jammed into my veins or the fact I was more concerned about simply staying alive, but my mind wasn’t occupied by hunger until there was an alternative to dehydrated meals a mere 22 kilometres away. From there, it didn’t take long for my mind and my stomach to wander. I spent the entire morning imagining all the tantalising meals I would devour once I reached civilisation.

Daily Diary – Day 6

I took one last look back over my shoulder at my refuge for the night, Mayo Hut, and continued along the creek that I had been following for much of Day 5. This unique retreat, deftly positioned on the edge of an enormous dormant waterway, was an absolute godsend. With a snotty sniffle setting in, I was able to set up a cozy fire and seek shelter from the elements. I can only imagine the relief this retreat had provided to thousands of walkers since its restoration for Australia’s bicentennial, back in 1988.

Day 6 - Mayo Hut

Mayo Hut: pretty and practical.

Despite my oncoming cold and the fact I’d just completed 6 days of continuous walking for the first time in my life, I felt energised. Much to my delight, the typical aches I suffered in my hip, butt, calves and feet each morning were starting to ease; my body was adapting. Also, as I hadn’t restocked since Day 1; my rucksack was as light as it was going to be and my back was thankful for the respite. There was also largely overcast conditions for the first time on the trail, helping me retain some of my sweat.

Day 6 - Ranges walking into Hawker

The first signs of civilisation for a couple of days.

Thanks to my newfound strength, the morning and early afternoon zipped by and I before I knew it. I quickly reached The Outback Highway and the alternative 6-kilometre roadside stretch into Hawker.

Hawker started out in the 1880’s as a railway town, thriving until the old Ghan route was upgraded and moved further west. Today it is a tourism centre for the Flinders Ranges, as well as a service centre for the surrounding pastoral lands.
Heysen Trail Map Sheet 7

After days of navigating stunning mountain tops, leafy forests, shady creekbeds and grassy paddocks the walk beside a bitumised highway left a bit to be desired. As much as I was looking forward to rejoining civilisation, the sight of speedy cars and scattered litter did little for my overall enjoyment. Something had been triggered over these past 6 days. The regularity of ‘normality’ now seemed trivial.

Day 6 - Road to Hawker

The flat stretch of road into Hawker was easy on the legs, not so on the eyes.

As happy as I was to enjoy a pub meal and spend the night in a warm bed, I was even more exhilarated to be re-entering the wild again on Day 7.

All the details.

Trail distance covered

21.99km

Accommodation
Price

Free (sponsor)

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

Similarly to the day previous, Day 6 was relatively flat. Creek beds and paddocks lined most of the way from Mayo Hut to the Highway. The stretch of road into Hawker wasn’t particularly scenic, but my legs were mighty grateful.