While I'd momentarily misplaced the trail several times by the end of my first week, the overgrown Yourambulla Range left me completely befuddled.
Day 7 served as a lesson in checking, double-checking and then triple-checking your bearings when you find yourself in an unfamiliar setting. The view from the top of Jervis Hill was mind-boggling, but so, as it turned out, was locating the trail markers dotted along the Yourambulla Range.
Daily Diary – Day 7
My time in Hawker was spent restocking my bag and refuelling my stomach. I stuffed my face with cake, chocolate, an egg and bacon roll, a kumquat pie (a local delicacy) and another heavenly chicken schnitzel. My belly had never been so full of guilt-free calories. After 6 full days of arduous hiking, my physique had begun to wither, and, honestly, I didn’t have much excess weight to lose. I needed to eat as much as possible so I didn’t completely disappear. But at least my water storage issues were resolved.
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 headaches since the beginning of Day 1, was ceremoniously dumped in the trash. I could now carry enough water to keep me hydrated throughout each day.
I began Day 7 backtracking along The Outback Highway to where the trail split from the wilderness on Day 6 and continued my journey toward the billowing Yourambulla Range.
The climb to Jervis Hill contained some of the most difficult country I’d encountered so far on the trail. This tricky terrain, coupled with an extended breakfast break at a cafe in Hawker, meant I would only reach tonight’s camping spot late in the evening. However, the last thing I wanted to do was rush these incredible panoramic 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 was the perfect place to reflect on how far I’d come over the past week; both physically and mentally. From the top, I could identify mountains that I’d trekked over in the hazy distance.
I was tempted to stay up there for hours, but the sun had already begun to dip and I still had several kilometres of dense bushland to navigate. I packed up my camera equipment, threw my bulky bag over my shoulders and continued the journey through the scrub-filled range.
The trail markers had become increasingly difficult to spot as they scattered themselves amongst the unruly terrain. I was so focused on chewing through quick kilometres that I’d forgotten to scan for the correct direction. I mean, how can you get lost on a straight range?
After an hour of bush bashing, I reached a clearing and immediately realised I had calamitously wandered off track. I knew the trail continued down the east side of the range and onto a 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 nesting on the horizon and I still had half a day’s walk before I reached my intended campsite. Due to the weight of my replenished rucksack and the energy burned from hacking through condensed scrub, I was exhausted. Fortunately, another site, Mt Elm School Shelter, was only a few kilometres up the track. 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.