There are approximately sixty day walks involved, spread over six years (1,200 ks). The southern walks, from Cape Jervis to Kapunda, are held one Sunday a month during the walk season – from May to November each year. Over summer, during the Fire Danger Season, the Heysen Trail is closed. From Kapunda northwards, due to the greater travelling distances involved, the walk is held over a weekend. When the group reaches much further north from Adelaide, beyond Quorn in the sixth and final year, the walks are conducted as a long weekend and week long walk.
Year 1 of 6 Cape Jervis to Myponga Total walked 106.7 ks and 1,093.3 ks to go.
- Sunday 5 May, 2019 Cape Jervis to Cobbler Hill: 14.2 ks
- Sunday 2 June, 2019 Cobbler Hill to Tapanappa: 13.5 ks
- Sunday 7 July, 2019 Tapanappa to Balquidder: 15 ks
- Sunday 4 August, 2019 Balquidder to Waitpinga: 15 ks
- Sunday 1 September, 2019 Waitpinga to Tugwell Road: 17 ks
- Sunday 22 September, 2019 Tugwell Rd to Inman Valley: 15 ks
- Sunday 13 October, 2019 Inman Valley to Myponga: 17 ks
Heysen walk season 1 complete.
What have I learnt from my first year of walking the Heysen ‘End-to End 14’?
Walking has little to do with the length of your legs or the age of your body. I’m small but there are other five footers that pound up those hills. I’m creeping towards the end of my fifth decade but I met ‘octogenarians’ who still walk the great walks of the world.
I’m trained as a midwife and I’ve learnt that the rhythmic breathing to manage labour works when you walk up hills. I’m a nurse and I’ve learnt that a ‘blister pack’ isn’t just a package of medications. It’s a packet of mini dressings for blisters on your feet.
I’ve learnt that snakes don’t just mean hazardous creatures. They are essential glucose management to be carried in your pocket. I’ve learnt to bear the weight of extra kilos in my kit lest my camel pack runs dry. I’ve learnt that a camel pack is something you can buy at a camping shop and not sight at the zoo.
I’ve experienced the humiliation of sliding down a hill caught by the back packer behind me. I’ve learnt not to ignore a grazed knee when it turns into a rip-roaring boil.
I’ve learnt that endurance is less about self determination and more about encouragement.
I’ve learnt that walking is a spiritual experience. It isn’t just about ducking under low branches, balancing over slippery rocks, and struggling through kilometres of soft sand. There is the gift of nature difficult to find in urban life. Minute colourful wildflowers. Tiny birds that would never survive in the city. Dolphins, and even a whale, viewed from shore.
Even in a large group you can find silence. There is always space to walk alone and reflect. To reflect, but also to forget. Forget the textbooks that wait for me on my desk. The incomplete assignments to be written or to be marked.
I’ve experienced the slowing down of time. I am privileged to walk on the land of the Australian Aboriginal knowing the spirit of their ancestors remains ever present.
I’ve learnt that we all have our own reasons for walking the Heysen from end to end. We each have a story to tell. I’m hoping that next season fellow walkers will be happy to share their story in this blog. Our stories can encourage other walkers, real or virtual, to continue on, one foot after another.
Many thanks to all the leaders of End-to-End 14.