It was finally my time to indulge.
There are few things a hiker looks forward to more than a shower, a schnitzel and to slip between the sheets of a toasty bed. 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 just occupied my thoughts with merely staying alive, but my mind was only overrun with delicious daydreams after I departed Mayo Hut. From there, it didn’t take long for my imagination to wander. I spent the entire morning visualising all the tantalising treats I would devour once I reached civilisation.
Heysen Trail 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 an enormous dormant waterway, was an absolute godsend. With a snotty sniffle settling in, I was able to light a cozy fire and escape the breezy conditions outside. I can only imagine the relief this shelter has provided to thousands of walkers since its restoration back in 1988.
Despite a stomach bug threatening to thwart my progress, and the fact I’d just completed six 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 to hiking life. Furthermore, I hadn’t restocked my bag since leaving the Prairie Inn on Day 1, so my load was light and my back was thankful for the temporary respite. The sky, too, remained overcast for the first time on the trail, helping my brow retain some 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 speeding cars and scattered litter did little for my overall enjoyment. A strong sense of minimalism and simplicity had been triggered over the first six days on the Heysen Trail; ‘normality’ now seemed a tad excessive.
Once I reached the Hawker Hotel Motel, I dutifully went about my domestic responsibilities; washing, drying, sorting, mending and replenishing my supplies. As happy as I was to enjoy a pub meal, spend the night in a warm bed and collect my brand new water bladder from my mates Jodie and Lewis, I was even more eager to re-enter the wild on Day 7.
All the details.
Trail distance covered
Call 08 8648 4102 for availability and pricing.
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.