I wanted to see the outback again and finally go hiking in this harsh yet beautiful landscape. I choose the Heysen Trail over the Larapinta Trail not just because it’s easier and cheaper to get to the Heysen. I knew I didn’t have enough time to hike the whole Larapinta and really wanted to attempt it as a whole.
The Heysen Trail is a long distance hike which is 1200 km long. It’s located in South Australia and stretches from Parachilna Gorge in the Flinders Ranges to Cape Jervis. I decided to start at the most northern end since this area interests me most. I also like to arrange my transport in a way so that I start at the furthest point and return to my car. The initial idea was to hike 9 days from Angorichina to Hawker but due to injury I needed to abort the hike after 4 days in Wilpena.
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most visited tourist destinations. Over the year’s I’ve visited it many times and it’s possible to drive it in only one day but I found many interesting spots along the way which can turn the trip in an interesting all-weeker. Or everything in between.
Here I will describe how to tackle the Great Ocean Road in only one day and still see the highlights without the feeling of a car race.
61km, 1400m ascend, 1500m descend, 7 days, grade: medium/hard
This hike traverses two of Tasmania’s most amazing national parks: Cradle Mountain - Lake St Claire and Walls of Jerusalem. For the most part it bypasses the crowds of the Overland Track in exchange of the solitude of the Mersey River. It crosses through an untracked valley, the Never Never, to make the link with the Overland Track.
This is a hike for experienced bushwalkers only who can be self sufficient for a whole week. Even though there are huts along the way it is necessary to carry a tent (some huts are emergency use only). Carrying a PLB is recommended. We walked end of April, your weather may (and will) differ. Be prepared for rain and even snow at any time of the year.
6km, 500m ascend, 3-4 hours
We started the actual hike in the early afternoon. We had flown into Launceston and were picked up by friends with whom we spent a few ours before they dropped us off at Walls of Jerusalem car park.
This marked the beginning of a 7-day walk and our backpacks were packed to their limits. We still manage with our 40+10l Deuter packs; quite surprising in winter with the heavier gear. We also had a few firsts on this walk: hiking poles and a new down sleeping bags. We had of course tested that equipment before but not on a multi-day hike.
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10km, 350m ascend and descend, 6-7 hours
The day started wet and cold, our camp site wrapped in clouds and mist. Luckily we had decided to leave the tent here for the day and return in the evening; carrying a wet tent is just that much less fun. We had a cooked breakfast (semolina with sugar and cinnamon) before we headed the last few meters up to Herods Gate. The mist had cleared, the sun was shining and we were clearly above the clouds now.
13km, 300m ascend, 400m descend, 8 hours, grade: medium/hard
The night was significantly dryer and warmer. There was still frost everywhere in the morning of course but no frozen puddles or ice inside of the tent.
We started early since this would be a long day of walking. We packed without breakfast and walked over to Dixons Kingdom, a really beautiful hut in gorges pine forest. We cooked breakfast there while soaking up the sun.
13km, 100-150m ascend and descend, 9 hours, grade: medium/hard
We started early again, getting up before sunrise. We had hopes to get through a valley called the Never Never today. Frost was still covering everything and that’s especially “fun” when jumping into your shorts and putting on those icy gaiters…
10km, 150m ascend, 250 descend, 6-8 hours, grade: hard
This was the big day, the most remote we had ever walked. We were excited. And started walking again right at sunrise. The moor grass all covered in frost, brushing over our skin between gaiters and shorts. What a beautiful morning! It didn’t take us long to get to the top of Clarke Falls. The decent was a different walk altogether. This is very, very steep, wet and with hardly anything to hold onto. A fall here could well be fatal. We did make it to the bottom but it was not easy. Clarke Falls does look impressive though.
10km, 100m ascend & descend, 3 hours, grade: easy
Sleeping in. Late breakfast with pan-fried salami slices topped with melted cheese wrapped in a mountain bread and a coffee at the side. Then a nice stroll over to Pine Valley and Pine Valley Hut around The Acropolis. I don’t know, walks which get started with a “that’s a short one” attitude tend to take much longer then expected. I think it’s just a perceived feeling of time but nevertheless. I try to always trick myself in thinking it might actually not be that short, that easy at all.
9km, 100m descend, 3 hours, grade: easy
Time to “walk out”. We only had to walk down to Lake St. Claire to catch the ferry - some 3-4 hours from memory. We then radioed the ferry company to confirm our booking and spent the next few hours waiting, eating, chatting and writing diary. It started to become overcast for the first time since we started six days ago.
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Gotta love Australia
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