While I'd already lost the trail numerous times by Day 7, the dense range encompassing Jervis Hill had me completely befuddled.
Day 7 served as a lesson in checking, double-checking and then triple-checking your bearings if you’re unfamiliar with your surroundings. The view from the top of Jervis Hill was mind-boggling, but so, as it would turn out, was finding the trail markers along the rest of the Yourambulla Range.
Daily Diary – Day 7
I’d spent 12 hours stuffing my face with cakes, chocolate, the local delicacy kumquat pie, an egg and bacon roll and another all-conquering chicken schnitzel. My belly had never been so full of guilt-free calories. After 6 full days of continuous walking, my physique was beginning to wither, and, to be honest, I didn’t have much excess weight to shed in the first place.
Much to my delight and eternal gratitude, my mates Jodie and Lewis dropped off a newer, much sturdier 3L water bladder. My previous bladder, that had caused me headaches since Day 1, was ceremoniously tossed in the bin. I would now have enough water to keep me hydrated throughout each day.
I backtracked along The Outback Highway to where the trail split from the wilderness on Day 6 and began my journey toward the protruding Yourambulla Range.
The climb to Jervis Hill incorporated some of the most difficult country I’d encountered so far along the trail. This tricky terrain, along with a prolonged breakfast break in Hawker, meant that I would only reach tonight’s camping spot well into the evening. However, the last thing I wanted to do was rush these spectacular views.
The Yourambulla Range was populated in ancient times by the Adnyamantha people, who are responsible for a series of well-preserved cave paintings at the southern end of the range, about 6km south of the Heysen Trail.
Heysen Trail Map Sheet 7
The summit of Jervis Hill acted as the perfect place to reflect on how far I’d come over the past week. From the summit, I could identify landforms that I’d trekked around and over, well into the hazy horizon.
I was tempted to stay up there for hours, but the sun was dipping and I had several kilometres of dense bushland still to navigate. I packed up my camera equipment, threw my rucksack over my shoulders and continued the journey through the scrub-filled range.
The trail markers were becoming increasingly difficult to locate as they scattered themselves amongst the unruly terrain. I was so entirely focused on chewing through the kilometres that I’d forgotten to scan for these often hidden markers. After an hour of bush hacking, I reached a clearing and quickly realised I had wandered off track. I knew the trail continued down the east side of the range and onto the dirt road; I had somehow wafted over to a separate westerly ridge.
By the time I found my way back to the trail, the sun was well and truly nesting on the golden skyline and I was still half a day’s walk from my intended campsite. Fortunately, Mt Elm School Shelter was only a few kilometres up the track, so I reluctantly decided to shorten Day 7 and increase Day 8 to a taunting 35 kilometres.
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.
The climb up and over the rocky Jervis Hill more than made up for the two flat days since leaving Wilpena Pound. While the distance may not be far, give yourself plenty of time to navigate this dense rocky region.