A taste of trail variety.
Throughout my Heysen Trail adventure, I endeavoured to include a little bit of everything. From self-dehydrated dahl to bistro schnitzels, tightass tent-life to chic cottages—I enjoyed my fair share of variety. As a result, my Heysen Trail Budget fits somewhere in the middle of a hiker’s typical trail expenditure.
Heysen Trail budget fluctuations.
Your individual packing list preferences will determine how much you spend on a trip of this magnitude. The price of camping equipment, clothing and technology can range considerably. Fortunately, if you’ve completed multi-day hikes before, you’ll likely already own much of the gear needed to thru-hike the trail.
Be warned, after an initial adjustment week, you will want to eat, and eat, and eat, then come up for a breath, then continue eating. Your appetite can be all-consuming on a long-distance trail, and this was most certainly the case as I entered towns along the Heysen Trail. My food plan included several schnitzel-sized holes to ensure I maintained at least some bodyweight and supported the local communities.
On-trail breakfasts $78 ($1.32/day)
On-trail lunches $169 ($2.86/day)
On-trail dinners $315 ($5.33/day)
Scroggin $225 ($3.81/day)
Town breakfast $200 ($3.38/day)
Town lunches $60 ($1.01/day)
Town dinners $360 ($6.10/day)
Town snacks $150 ($2.54/day)
My 59-day trek included camping, huts, residential houses, cabins, hotels and even an Airbnb. Thankfully, many of my accommodation options sponsored my fundraising drive, saving me hundreds as a result. While the facilities I used exceeded $1,200, the journey could be comfortably made for $700 or less, depending on how quickly you walk and how many indulgences you can forgo.
- 22 nights commercial campgrounds and accommodation ($1,205)
- 33 nights Heysen Trail huts or campsites ($0)
- 3 nights residential houses ($0)
Switching my fuel type would be one of my only practical changes from my Heysen Trail journey. While specialty isobutane and propane canisters are convenient and efficient, they’re not especially environmentally-friendly and can cause logistical headaches when it comes time to disposing of them. I would instead use a petrol burner and fill up at petrol stations along the way—cheap, easy and just as convenient.
Due to my long days photographing South Australia’s scenery, I knew I wouldn’t be able to wash and dry my clothes regularly. Instead, I packed a week’s worth of underwear and recycled through sweaty clothing until I reached civilisation. A little disgusting, I know, but nobody else could smell me on the trail—I hope.
Heysen Trail Membership ($25)
Support the trail that supports you. The Friends of the Heysen Trail organisation is completely volunteer-run, meaning all funds go toward the development and maintenance of the Heysen Trail. Plus, membership includes retail discounts at a variety of stores and quarterly editions of the Trailwalker magazine.
Fortunately, I was able to hitch a ride to and from the Heysen Trail trailheads; however, this won’t be the case for many thru-hikers. Semi-regular bus options are available to Parachilna and Cape Jervis.
Another logistical headache I managed to avoid. By personally delivering my supply boxes up and down the trail before setting off, I saved money, energy and the anxiety of organising shipping with Australian Post.
Hiking Equipment ($550-$1050)
- Backpack ($250-$550)
- Hiking Poles ($60-$200)
- Head Lamp ($50)
- Water Bladder ($50)
- Water Purification Tablets ($80)
- Electrolyte Tablets ($20-$40)
- Pocket Knife ($20-$100)
Camping Equipment ($400-$1150)
Cooking Equipment ($100-$200)
- Cooking Set ($50-$100)
- Three-in-one Spork ($10)
- Travel Mug ($30-$70)
- Matches/Lighter ($10)
Heysen Trail Maps ($108)
While I frequently used the GPS map on my phone, there were periods where I didn’t have reception or adequate battery. My official Heysen Trail maps were informative, helpful and always at hand.
- Toilet paper ($10)
- Biodegradable Soap ($5)
- Toothbrush/Floss ($5)
- Biodegradable Toothpaste ($7)
- Hand Disinfectant ($10)
- Dietary Supplements ($10)
- Wet Wipes ($35)
- Roll-On Deodorant ($16)
- Toiletry Bag Scissors ($15)
- Tweezers ($5)
- Quick Dry Towel ($20)
First Aid ($85)
- 3 x T-shirts ($30-$90)
- Fleece Jumper ($50-$100)
- Rain Jacket ($100-$300)
- 3 x Pairs of Socks ($45)
- 7 x Underwear ($100)
- Thermal Gloves ($30)
- Sleeping Shorts ($15)
- Long Pants ($15-$100)
- Hiking Shorts ($15-$100)
Believe it or not, the Heysen Trail could be completed without technology — but I wouldn’t recommend it. I went slightly overboard carrying solar panels and multiple power banks, but taking a phone or GPS device is a no-brainer.
Carrying a Personal Location Beacon is essential on remote adventures like the Heysen Trail. In emergency situations, they can be the difference between life and death. Hiring options are available, though consider buying a PLB if you intend on trekking more in future.