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 over food. I’m not sure if it was the hunger-quenching adrenaline jammed into my veins or if I had been more occupied with simply staying alive, but my mind wasn’t overrun by thoughts of delicious eats until I left Mayo Hut. From there, it didn’t take long for my imagination to wander. I spent the entire morning visualising all the tantalising meals I would devour once I reached civilisation.
Daily Diary – Day 6
I took one last look at my refuge for the night and continued following the meandering creek bed that I had tracked for much of Day 5. This unique retreat, precariously positioned on the edge of this enormous dormant waterway, was a godsend. With a sniffle setting in, I was able to set up a cozy fire and escape the outside elements. I can only imagine the relief this shelter has provided to thousands of walkers since its restoration back in 1988.
Despite a cold threatening to thwart my daily progress and the fact I’d just completed 6 days of continuous hiking for the first time in my life, I felt energised. Even the typical morning aches in my hip, butt, calves and feet were starting to ease. My body was adapting. Plus, I hadn’t yet restocked since leaving the Prairie Inn on Day 1, so my bag was light and my back was thankful for the respite. The sky also remained overcast for the first time on the trail, helping me retain some of my sweat. Everything was looking up.
Thanks to my newfound strength, the morning and early afternoon zipped by. Before I knew it, I had reached The Outback Highway and the alternative 6-kilometre roadside ramble 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 mountain tops, leafy forests, shady creekbeds and grassy paddocks, the walk beside a bituminised highway left a bit to be desired. As much as I looked 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. ‘Normality’ now seemed somewhat trivial.
Once I reached Hawker, I quickly went about my domestic duties; washing, drying, sorting, mending and restocking my belongings. As happy as I was to enjoy a pub meal and spend the night in a warm bed, I was even more excited to re-enter the wild again on Day 7.
All the details.
Trail distance covered
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.
Similarly to the previous day, 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.