Heysen Trail

  • © flickr user
  • © flickr user
  • © flickr user
  • © flickr user
  • © flickr user
  • © flickr user- Royston Rascals
  • © flickr user- Royston Rascals
  • Balquhidder to Waitpinga - © flickr user- Royston Rascals
  • © flickr user- Royston Rascals
  • © flickr user- Royston Rascals

Key information: Heysen Trail

    • The 1,200km Heysen Trail runs from the Fleurieu Peninsula (think truly spectacular coastal scenery) to the south of Adelaide to the Mounty Lofty  Ranges and the Flinders Ranges to the north. 
      • Plenty of exciting walking, around coastline and through rugged, ancient "mountains" and classic Australian scenery of various kinds.
        • This can be tough walking in remote hills, on which you will have to be self-sufficient. Come prepared.
          • ANYONE GOT ANY GOOD PHOTOS? WE WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO POST THEM!

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating80
  • Beauty30
  • Natural interest16
  • Human interest4
  • Charisma30
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating80

Vital Statistics

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WALK SUMMARY

The 1,200km Heysen Trail, runs from the Fleurieu Peninsula (think truly spectacular coastal scenery) to the south of Adelaide to the Mounty Lofty  Ranges and the Flinders Ranges to the north.

This is an area of very rugged, very ancient hills (mountains in the British not Himalayan sense) whose geological history stretches back some 600 million years in some areas. Geological highlights include extraordinary Wilpena Pound and the Edeowie and the Brachina gorges.

This can be very dry, very hot countryside, with classic Aussie wildlife to match: wallabies and kangaroos, snakes, and a wide variety of birds. The seemingly oppressed vegetation explodes with colour in spring - if the rain falls. 

The first half,Cape Jarvis to Spalding, is relatively easy walking on the Fleurieu Penisula and through the Mount Lofty Ranges. Further north is more isolated and tougher. 

Few will walk the whole trail (diminishing returns will apply). Best sections include:

  • The southern coastline (Cape Jervis to Victor Harbour) of the Fleurieu Penisula, and especially the Deep Creek Conservation Area.
  • Myponga Conservation Area, tougher walking but excellent scenery and landscape. Mount Magnificent is ... err ... magnificent.
  • Mount Lofty Ranges (Fleurieu to Barossa).
  • Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park (forest, scrub and grassland)
  • Tourilie Gorge, an old throughfare
  •  Mount Remarkable at the southern end of the Flinders Ranges and nearby Alligator Gorge.
  • Melrose to Woolshed Flat, and Mount Brown and Pichi Richi Pass south of Quorn.
  • The Wilcolo Valley is well spoken of.
  • Mount Arden
  • Buckranga Gorge
  •  Wilpena Pound
  • Hawker to Parachilna and the final fling, the hugely dramatic Parachilna Gorge at the northern end of The Flinders

The trail is open in April to October - parts are closed at other times due to fire risks. 

Guidebooks with maps can be bought locally, or online.

Accommodation is a mix of huts and camping. The guidebooks show campsites, and give details of accommodation in towns.

The Heysen Trail Website (http://heysentrail.asn.au/heysen-trail/) has information on campsites and accommodation, a service directory and transport information.

The trail is reasonably visible, with some signage.

This page is at an early stage of development. Please help us by recommending your best walks, making suggestions and sending photos! Thank you!

For more information and photos, including detailed practical information and some warnings, see our Flinder Ranges walk page.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist. Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.

See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist.

Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.

Books and Maps

Suggest books and maps

Books on this walk     

Adelaide & South Australia – Lonely Planet

Other books

Lonely Planet Central Australia (Adelaide to Darwin) – Lonely Planet

Maps

Decent maps are reasonably easily available locally.

Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk. A good online specialist source of worldwide maps (it is also good for guidebooks). Also try www.mapsworldwide.com and www.trektools.com.

Best times to walk/weather

Best times to walk

During the cooler months (April-Oct)

Weather

The summer heat isn’t as extreme as further north, at least toward the coast, but avoiding summer when inland (e.g. The Flinders ranges) is still a good "idea". There is little rainfall once inland, with what can be had low and spasmodic. A good sleeping bag is advisable as it gets cold at night.

For detailed weather information, have a look at: www.worldweather.org or www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/country-guides.

Getting there/transport/permits/fees

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Nearest airport: Adelaide – flights from every Australian city.

Those on organized expeditions will be transported from/to arranged start/departure points.

No permits are needed to do this/these walks (as at 2014), but park and camping fees can apply. 

Route(s)

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See Walk Summary above. 


Possible problems, health, other warnings

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·         Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself. But gets cold at night.

·         Heights: can be dangerous; not for those who have difficulties with heights.

·         Dangerous animals of all shapes and sizes (this is Australia, Mate), including snakes, stinging/biting insects and plants. Take all appropriate precautions.

·         Gorge and riverbed dangers: gorges can be lethal, particularly as a result of flash floods. Assess and prepare for all risks on those walks involving gorges. In particular, check the weather carefully and don’t go after rain or if it is possible. And don’t camp in river beds.

·         This can remote country: food and other supplies will not be readily available once on a trail and help may be hard to get if things go wrong.

·          Be sensitive in dealings with Aborignal people:  don’t photograph them without permission. Ask permission if in doubt about whether they would mind.

See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and problems can arise on any walk. Many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks and possible problems. This website cannot, does not purport to, identify all actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to a walk or a country. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Make sure you have appropriate insurance.

Guided or independent?

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Independent

You can do these walks independently, but you will need to be self-sufficient, so come fully prepared.

Guided/supported

Many people form or join organised/supported expeditions when doing multi-day walks. Given the remoteness of the country and difficulty of getting supplies, many will prefer to do it this way if going on multi-day expeditions, and travelling here with a knowledgeable guide has real advantages and this can give you the ability to move between the very best (and most varied) walks.

If hiring a guide locally, meet him/her and get comfortable before committing. Make sure all requirements are understood and agreed – including how you will eat and overnighting and, of course, remuneration!

Expedition organisers include:

· Great Walks Of Australia http://greatwalksofaustralia.com.au/

· SEIT Outback Australia http://www.seitoutbackaustralia.com.au

· Heading Bush Outback Adventures http://www.headingbush.com/

· The Heysen Trail http://heysentrail.asn.au/

· Holiday in Australia http://www.australia.com/en/itineraries/sa-heysen-trail.html

· Top Trails http://www.southaustraliantrails.com/top_trails.asp?heysen

PLEASE HELP Walkopedia by recommending any reputable tour organizers that you know of – local or otherwise.

Accommodation

Once out on remote trails, camping only.

Luxury camping is arrangeable.

There are various accommodation websites for towns such as Alice Springs.

See what the commentary on Tripadvisor is on possible places to stay – although do take their reviews with a pinch of salt, as they can be “interested”.

Useful websites and information

There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.

The Heysen Trail Website (http://heysentrail.asn.au/heysen-trail/) has information on campsites and accommodation, a service directory and transport information.

·         http://www.wikipedia.org. As usual, a good starting place.

·         Try www.flickr.com for pictures of this walk.

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Other things to do in the area

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Other walks

Australia has a huge variety of great walks.

Other activities

Endless

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Balquhidder to Waitpinga - © flickr user- Royston Rascals

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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