Hiking the Heysen Trail in South Australia / Australian Geographic


Writer Quentin Chester (right) and myself take in the Heysen's coastal splendour.

Dawn, Tappanappa Headland, Heysen Trail, South Australia

Check out Australian Geographic’s article and web gallery on the Heysen Trail – a 1200km walk from Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula south of Adelaide to the rugged Parachilna Gorge in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia. Passing along spectacular coastal cliffs and beaches, meandering through gentle farmland north until reaching the Flinders, which graced the canvas of the painter Hans Heysen in his later years after which the walk is named.

Click link for Heysen Trail gallery:
http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/journal/view-image.htm?gid=3834
or go to: www.australiangeograhic.com.au

Whilst on assignment for this article with writer Quentin Chester, I was honoured to meet the founder of the trail Warren Bonython, who originally proposed the track way back in 1969 but was stalled for several years due to Government politics and issues with private land owners. His exploits made him a well known pioneering bushwalker of the time as he carried heavy packs into the heart of unexplored northern South Australia eventually opening up the State for future generations to enjoy.

The Heysen Trail proposal continued to be expanded under the dedicated efforts of trail designer Terry Lavender from the Department of Sport and Recreation until reaching completion in 1992.

Waitpinga Cliffs, Heysen Trail, South Australia.

Hans Heysen spent months touring the Flinders Ranges towing his customised caravan art studio which can be seen at the Heysen home in Hahndorf, South Australia, a fascinating museum of Heysen’s life down to the last detail. Brushes, pens, sketches, even his glasses give the feel that he has only just left us… (he died in 1968).

Quentin compares an illustration of Heysen's painting of Encounter Bay with the same viewpoint on our assignment.

Most of the Heysen Trail is done in sections, a day, or a week at a time. For the dedicated few who complete the Heysen from end to end in one hit, their names are recorded on a roll of honour.

I spent six weeks walking along the length of the Flinders Ranges in 1990 from the Spencer Gulf to Innaminka in the north of the State as part of the OZCROSS Wilderness Walk, which tragically, met with the passing of my companion George Strachan, a Scotsman who planned to walk from South to North in honour of the early explorers such as Burke and Wills. We had completed two out of a six month planned south to north traverse of Australia.

We criss-crossed sections of the as yet unopened Heysen Trail until reaching the very tail of the Flinders Ranges looking out onto open desert country towards the salt of Lake Blanche.

Wildlife along the early sections of the Heysen Trail include magnificent sea eagles, kestrels, seals, pelicans, oystercatchers, kangaroos, pacific gulls and crested terns (shown below).

See the full feature in Australian Geographic, issue 95 (Oct – Dec 2009)

© Warren Field / Australian Geographic 2011

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2 thoughts on “Hiking the Heysen Trail in South Australia / Australian Geographic

  1. Pingback: Vale C. Warren Bonython 1916-2012. « Warren Field Blog

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