An account of walking the Heysen Trail Beyond Parachilna

View from Patawarta Hill... should be Patawarta Mountain!

View from Patawarta Hill… should be Patawarta Mountain!

This article originally appeared in the Friends of the Heysen Trail Spring 2019 Trailwalker magazine, and is reproduced here with permission.

Jim McLean, in previous issues of Trailwalker 1, has proposed starting the Heysen Trail from Kangaroo Island. Here he details his trek beyond the northern trailhead of the 1,200km Heysen Trail from Parachilna, walking 18 days to Mount Hopeless, in the northernmost Flinders Ranges.

In May 2012, I gloriously climbed the stile in Parachilna Gorge to complete the 1200kms of the Heysen Trail independently over 22 years. My companions and I looked at each other and said, ‘We shouldn’t stop here. Look what’s over the road!’

In the 1960s, Warren Bonython walked all the way to Mount Hopeless 2, the unofficial northern extent of the Flinders Ranges. We should do the same!

Andrew McLean and and Jim McLean enjoying the view from atop Tam O’Shanter Hill

Andrew McLean and and Jim McLean enjoying the view from atop Tam O’Shanter Hill

Plenty of groups have done it, we thought, as we eyed the remote and mysterious country beyond. Such expeditions are not for the inexperienced, unskilled or faint-hearted. We did not fit any of these categories, but we were getting on a bit. We were past carrying 20kg packs on our backs. So this story is an attempt at a solution for everyone, including our valued senior citizens.

Spreading the maps over the table revealed a possibility that, unfortunately, did not include the spectacular interior of the Gammon Ranges. We were thinking of bases in the sheep station country between Parachilna, the Gammons and Arkaroola. From there with the aid of 4WDs we could do the route in bits and pieces: day walks and one or two overnighters. We thought Freeling Heights difficult but unavoidable. You wouldn’t want to leave it out anyway.

As luck would have it there was an immediate spark of interest from my brother Andrew – a serious four-wheel driver and not so serious walker – offering transport and support for Robert Koehne, John Fuller and myself.

The base for an initial trip was Blinman Hut, the initiative of Keith and Lisa Slade of Moolooloo Station, built and fitted out for nomads like us. All country in this region is privately leased. Developing respect and good relationships is fairly straightforward but essential. If you wish to deviate from the publicly-accessible roads in the area you need permission from the landholders.

Setting off in June 2018, we quickly discovered driving to Moolooloo, chatting with Keith, and on to Blinman Hut, that it would take us longer than expected for drop-offs and pick-ups. Certainly our plan to get to Arkaroola this time round might have to be modified.

Blinman Hut was the perfect stay. Bore and rain water were on tap, the wood-fired stove warmed us in the evenings, and we had warm showers when we stoked up the elevated boiler outside. Andrew’s 4WD provided refrigerated storage and lighting inside the hut. We also were equipped with spacious tents for sleeping.

The promising but failed Nuccaleena Mine

The promising but failed Nuccaleena Mine

A few planned warm-up excursions proved to be engaging and sobering. The promising but failed Nuccaleena Mine must have been exciting in its short life span. A lot of investment money was lost when it prematurely ran out of ore.

We searched without success for the Aboriginal rock art on Tam O’Shanter Hill, but got a great view from the top. We secured permission from the owner of Narrina Station to climb Patawarta and visit the historic Artimore sheep station. Like many features in the northern Flinders Ranges, Patawarta Hill is inappropriately and tritely named. (Bonython spends some time in his book on this point, citing examples like Dick’s Knob.) Patawarta Hill should be Patawarta Mountain! From the north it was not a difficult climb; a most rewarding walk and the best of panoramic views from the top.

The main business of our visit – following the Oratunga, Molkegna and Narrina creek lines, with some vehicular track on the connecting flats – was no less rewarding. It was the most pleasant ‘get-away-from-it-all’ country anyone could imagine.

The historic Artimore sheep station

The historic Artimore sheep station

We made it from the Trailhead at Parachilna Gorge to Narrina Homestead in four ‘day walks’. But by then we were spending so much time in drop-offs and pick-ups that we knew if we went any further we would have no time for walking.

Next time we will possibly have bases at Grindell’s Hut and Arkaroola, pushing on to the closest vehicular access below Freeling Heights. After that we would make our own base camps. The valley after Freeling sounds, from Bonython’s book, inviting and well worth aiming for on the way to Mount Hopeless.

I have an 18-day plan in spread-sheet format and a set of maps of a route from Parachilna Gorge to Mount Hopeless that I would be willing to share. Contact me via email on if you are interested.

  1. Split article, published in Spring 2017, and Summer 2018
  2. Walking the Flinders Ranges by C. Warren Bonython, 1971

Following Churchhill Fellowship awardee Ben Trewren on exploring the world best of ‘Shared-use’ Trails

I spent all day with Mitch, an Alpine Ranger, on the Rainbow Trail. What makes this trail unique is that it makes its way through Whistler’s watershed. In fact, every drop of water we saw is Whistler’s drinking water. I was really encouraged that the community has been able to appreciate that you can still recreate in such an ‘important’ area.

I spent all day with Mitch, an Alpine Ranger, on the Rainbow Trail. What makes this trail unique is that it makes its way through Whistler’s watershed. In fact, every drop of water we saw is Whistler’s drinking water. I was really encouraged that the community has been able to appreciate that you can still recreate in such an ‘important’ area.

Walking SA Board member and Churchill Fellowship recipient Ben Trewren is currently travelling and undertaking an investigation into how engaging people in outdoor trails can assist in building community through world-class ‘shared-use’ trail and outdoor experiences.

In 2018 Ben was awarded the Terry Lavender Scholarship and hopes to honour Terry’s legacy by harnessing the opportunity to uncover new ideas, attitudes and implementation strategies to further the profile and accessibility of outdoor recreation trails for all types of users.

Ben is currently travelling through Canada, having been through New Zealand and some of the United States, and will continue on to the United Kingdom, Switzerland and the Netherlands to speak to, explore and learn from the best in the outdoor industry.

In his Week One blog post from New Zealand, Ben shared how he observed a every stakeholder in a trail considers that they have a role to play – whether they be the national government, local councils, peak bodies, commercial operators, recreation clubs, community groups and the everyday users themselves.

In his Week Two post from Canada, he shared how we have perhaps attached ourselves to the idea that we’re entitled to everything the outdoors offers us. Whether it be landscapes, trails, scenic areas or facilities, and that we shirk the responsibility to give back by sharing it and inspiring other people.

You can follow his updates on his blog, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin or subscribe to email updates.

Work continues on bringing the vision of the Adelaide 100 trail to fruition

We’ve started working through Stage 2 of bringing the Adelaide 100 trail to reality. Stage 2 is focussed on the advanced planning of some of the more complex trail connections, which will then be work-shopped with key stakeholders to seek necessary approvals, support and ongoing co-operation.

The Adelaide 100 trail is a concept for a 100km trail circumnavigating the Greater Adelaide region. The trailwill link up existing infrastructure, creating short distance links to create the full trail. Adelaide is renowned for its beautiful parks and reserves that encircle our city, enhance our suburbs, thread along our coast and feature throughout the hills. The trail will take in these beautiful areas.

Board members Rod Quintrell and Jim Mclean have been undertaking field surveys in suburban Lockleys, Basket Range and Stirling in the Adelaide Hills.
Whilst working on the planning, there’s plenty of the trail that can be walked. There is a new 1.6km section of trail in Norton Summit, heading north along Monument Road. The section is well signposted and varied in landscape and terrain, with a historic church ruin to visit along the way. The trail is undulating and presents no significant challenges to anyone of moderate fitness. The section showcases the Adelaide Hills well, and is a nice sampler of the Adelaide 100.

We have been pleased to have consistently constructive and well received feedback from stakeholders, with trail approvals achieved with the City of Campbelltown and Flinders University.

We are awaiting finalisation around trail marker positioning after a positive meeting with the team from the City of West Torrens. Other stakeholder consultations continue.

Maps of the concept trail and details of sections that are accessible now can be found on our website.

New trail: $6m Great Southern Ocean Walk along the Fleurieu Peninsula

Map of Great Southern Ocean Walk

The SA Government has announced an investment in creating the Great Southern Ocean Walk – an upgrade of the iconic Heysen Trail along the Fleurieu Peninsula, connecting Deep Creek and Newland Head conservation parks, and Granite Island Recreation Park.

Parts of the Heysen Trail will be upgraded, and day visitor facility and a fully accessible destination constructed at the heart of Deep Creek Conservation Park to ensure our parks are a place people with disabilities can enjoy. Existing campgrounds and amenities will also be upgraded to cater for growing demand.

The Great Southern Ocean Walk will be a 5-day walk with campsites. Over the past two years the Friends of the Heysen Trail have been involved with the working committee to develop the concept, having previously been involved in providing feedback in the concept research.

The $6 million project is part of the government’s $11.8 million New Parks Investment as part of the upcoming 2019-20 State Budget. The $11.8 million for parks will enhance nature tourism, will improve access, amenities and services in our national parks, and ensure they continue to play an important part in the lives of South Australians, and in building our visitor economy.

Watch the announcement video.
Read the media release.

View our response, joint Media Release with the Heart Foundation.

Easter a perfect time to explore our State on foot

Easter is a perfect time to grab those shoes and explore some of our State on foot.

Travelling over Easter? Find walks near where you’ll be:

Looking for somewhere to explore near home? Review our themed shortlists of walks such as:

Concept trail being developed for the Riverland

Riverland Trail Concept Plan documentThe Riverland Trail concept is a 200 kilometre walking and cycling trail, navigating some of the region’s most stunning and iconic natural Murray River landscapes.

The Trail concept is being worked on by three local councils: Renmark Paringa Council, Berri Barmera Council and District Council of Loxton Waikerie.

The proposed Riverland Trail will follow the Murray River from Waikerie to Renmark, and will connect with another 50km of existing tracks and trails scattered across the region. The Trail will provide opportunities to explore local produce, wineries, and a host of nature and water-based activities, and increase nature-based tourism in the Riverland.

Funding is being sought for the 2019/20 financial year from each of the three Councils.

The new trail is sure to complement the host of excellent walking trails already in the Riverland.

Find out more about the project at

View the concept plan document.

Best walks to see wildflowers and flowers in the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula

Explore some walking trails for see some of this Spring’s native wildflowers or other flowers.

We’ve listed some walking trails near Adelaide in the Adelaide Hills, and in parks and reserves on the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Thanks to everyone who has been entering our Spring photo competition of wildflowers you’ve seen when out walking on a trail, we’ve seen some great photos and places to walk. We’ve had four winners, one for each week of September, each winning a Multi Park Pass thanks to National Parks and Wildlife Service SA.

In this article:

  1. Wildflower and flowers walks in Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills
  2. Wildflower walks on the Fleurieu Peninsula
  3. Links to other articles to find wildflowers

Wildflowers… or weeds?

What do we mean by the term “wildflowers”? It is often understood to mean native Australian flowers growing freely in the wild. However… unfortunately some of the flowers we see growing alongside trails in our national parks and reserves are introduced species of flowers, which means they are weeds.

It could be subjective how much enjoyment someone derives from walking through nature and seeing these flowers – be they native wildflowers or introduced flowers (weeds).

Regardless – a quick public service announcement – don’t pick the flowers – either native wildflowers or weeds. The native wildflowers should be left as-is, so they keep growing in the wild. And some weeds shouldn’t be picked and transported, because it tends to encourage them to spread.

Generally in the walks we’ve listed below, we’ve tried to show native wildflowers, but we acknowledge that some of the photos will invariably be of introduced species – weeds. And a couple of the walking trails below include flowers we very much know are not native to Australia, but we’ve included the trail destinations as they’re great places to walk and see flowers and nature.

1. Wildflower and flowers walks in Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills

Black Hill Conservation Park

In Anstey Hill Recreation Park explore the wildflowers on the Black Hill Summit Hike (4.2km return Hard Hike) or the Ambers Gully Hike and Sugarloaves Trail (4.4km circuit, Moderate Hike).

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georginagentle georginagentleBlack Hill

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Walking SA Board member Ben Trewren has been successful in receiving a Churchill Fellowship

Walking SA Board member Ben Trewren has been successful in receiving a Churchill FellowshipToday the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust has awarded $3.1 million worth of Churchill Fellowships to 112 Australians. One of the recipients is our very own Walking SA Board member Ben Trewren, being awarded the Terry Lavender Scholarship. This scholarship provides opportunities for South Australians to investigate ways to develop, improve, manage, and promote outdoor recreational trails and pursuits in South Australia.

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust’s aim is to provide an opportunity for Australians to travel overseas to conduct research in their chosen field that is not readily available in Australia. The Trust was established in 1965 to honour the memory of Sir Winston Churchill, and fulfil his wish for people from all walks of life to travel the world to gain new knowledge and share ideas and insights. Ten South Australians were awarded a fellowship.

Ben’s project will allow him to research how engaging people in shared trails can assist in building the outdoor community. Ben hope’s to honour Terry’s legacy by harnessing this opportunity to uncover new ideas, attitudes and implementation strategies to build the profile/useability of outdoor recreation trails for all types of users. Ben will be travelling to New Zealand, USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Switzerland and Netherlands.

Find out more about the project in Ben’s presentation at our AGM at 6:30pm Thursday 11 October 2018.

Bundaleer Forest Community Precinct secured

Greg Boston, Bundaleer Forest Community Areas Association chair says the funding is a show of faith in the local community's vision.

Greg Boston, Bundaleer Forest Community Areas Association chair says the funding is a show of faith in the local community’s vision.

The plan to redevelop the Bundaleer Forest Community Precinct has been secured thanks to a $110,000 State Government grant. Back in July, the Bundaleer Community Areas Association began scaling back their redevelopment plans, despite a $150,000 grant from the 2017 Fund My Neighbourhood project and a $100,000 grant from Forestry SA.

This means they can now proceed with the full vision: a fresh start for Bundaleer Forest Picnic Ground, to renew and revitalise the precinct into a vibrant community recreational space and tourism drawcard.

The plan includes:

  • a Visitor, Community & Event Centre, suited for conferences, school groups and weddings, and
  • for walkers and mountain bike users an expanded undercover area, toilets, showers, and kitchen facilities.

Walking SA supported the group’s project as it will encourage more people to use the forest trails, including a re-routed Heysen Trail.

You can sign up for project updates via the Register Your Interest button on the website.

The forest at Bundaleer was South Australia’s first forest plantation, first planted in 1876 as a trial site. Following the 2013 Bangor bushfire and 2014 Wirrabara bushfire, much of the forest area is now being transitioned from commercial forestry use to recreational or other use.

Further upgrades for Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty Summit Trail

A further funding boost of $2.9 million allocated to the Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty Summit trail will restore and upgrade this popular and iconic walking trail, making it safer, more sustainable and storm-resistant in the future.

The popular and strenuous walking trail sustained significant damage in the September 2016 storms, with initial funding being used to restore access, make safe and repair the most damaged sections of the trail by the end of 2018.

However, this new injection of funding will expand the scope of the upgrade, restoring the Waterfall Gully trail completely from top to bottom. The additional restoration work will extend the original completion date of the project, with the revised date for all works expected to be by the end of 2019.

The restoration works will include creek bank stabilisation, new boardwalks, stonework and trail re-surfacing.

Whilst these works are in progress detours will be in place for sections of the trail on weekdays for the safety of public users. Unless any unforeseen circumstances arise, the usual trail routes will be available on weekends and public holidays.

It is worth noting that detour routes may be longer and may cover slippery, steep terrain, so extra care and attention will be needed by all using these trails.

To keep up to date with the latest updates check out the Natural Resources Facebook page or for more information head to the National Parks website.

Feedback sought on potential Belair National Park improvements (since closure of former Belair Golf Course and Country Club)

The Government is assessing how the land areas of the former Belair Golf Course and Country Club in Belair National Park could be utilized.

We’ve participated in discussion forums on the topic, and anyone can now provide feedback via the survey, which takes about 5-7 minutes to complete.

We’re keen to see how the area could be used to improve walking trails and other trail users, and any viable commercial businesses that might improve people’s experience in visiting the national park.

Celebrating the completion of the Lavender Federation Trail

Congratulations to South Australian Recreation Trails (SARTI) on the opening of the final section of Lavender Federation Trail on May 5 at Clare, attended by a broad cross section of the walking and local community.

Some 21 years ago, back in 1997, a group of walkers realized the potential of a long distance walking trail on the eastern side of the Mt Lofty Ranges in South Australia. The attraction of a such a trail in this location was that it is in the “rain shadow” of the Mt Lofty Ranges thereby offering dry weather walking for much of the year.

The Lavender Federation Trail, now 325km long, beings on the Murray River in Murray Bridge and traverses diverse countryside on the eastern flanks of the Mt Lofty Ranges to Clare, connecting with almost 100km of link & loop trails to nearby towns, and attractions through the Barossa & Mid North of the State.

The unique feature of this trail? It has been designed, built and maintained entirely by volunteers, the eldest being 86. We understand it is the longest trail network in the country built entirely by volunteers.

Best Walks for Kids under 7 (updated)

[This article was originally published in 2016 and has been updated in October 2017]

There’s plenty of short hikes that are great for kids under 7, with opportunities to explore nature and see wildlife.

Throughout October we’re celebrating walking with #WalktoberSA.

This article complements the Best Walks for Kids 7-12yo article we recently published.

16 Great Hikes and Walks for Kids Under 7

Punchbowl Lookout Walk1.

Punchbowl Lookout Walk

Walk suitable for prams and strollers Walk suitable for those with mobility issues including wheelchairs

2km, 1 hour return

A new trail opened in September 2017. The one kilometre trail visits a new lookout above The Punchbowl, where you can see spectacular views into the Onkaparinga Gorge. The trail is a consistent one metre wide and made of compacted gravel, and with gentle contoured gradients, so as such is suitable for those with mobility access issues, including wheelchairs and prams. There is some seating mid-way along the trail.

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Park of the Month
Flinders Chase National Park
October 2017

Flinders Chase National Park, on Kangaroo Island, is the National Parks and Wildlife Service SA Park of the Month for October 2017.

Experience the rugged wilderness with its iconic landmarks such as the world-famous Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch. Enjoy the park and its diverse wildlife on the network of walking trails. Trek the five day Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail on assisted day walks or camping out along the way.

Ravine Des Casoars Wilderness Protection Area connects the two sections of Flinders Chase National Park. Below we’ve outlined 19 hikes and trails in the two parks.

19 Great Hikes and Trails in Flinders Chase National Park

Discovery Walk1.

Discovery Walk

Easy walk, 400m, 10 mins return

This short walk will take you from the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre to the Walking Trail Information Shelter overlooking Black Swamp. Interpretive signs along the way will help hone your wildlife observation skills. Signs at the Black Swamp Lookout shelter give information about other hikes and walks accessed from here.

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50 Pram and Wheelchair Accessible Walks and Hikes

Adelaide and South Australia has many walking trails and hiking paths that are accessible to prams, strollers and people with mobility issues, including wheelchairs. We’ve outlined some of the best ones below.

The walks can also be great for children to ride their bikes along with their parents walking beside them.

We’ve broken the list down into 3 sections:

  1. Adelaide Metro Area (29 walks)
  2. Bush Walks (13 hikes)
  3. Regional South Australia (8 walks)

Throughout October we’re celebrating walking with #WalktoberSA.

Here’s a short selection of great hikes

Section 1 of 3. Adelaide Metro Area

Adelaide Park Lands Trail (loop ring route)1.

Adelaide Park Lands Trail

Walk suitable for prams and strollers Walk suitable for those with mobility issues including wheelchairs Walk suitable for dog walking

Series of connected walking and cycling trails through the parklands which loop around the city. Bisected by the River Torrens, offering the option to do either the southern or northern loops and loop back via the river.

  • Full circuit (around south Adelaide and North Adelaide): 18.1km
  • southern Adelaide circuit, using Torrens River to link up: 16km
  • North Adelaide circuit, using Torrens River to link up: 9km

The trail is an initiative of Adelaide City Council, who describe the trail as: “The trail is suitable for basic riders, family groups and mobility aid users.”

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