The Heysen Trail (South) - Part 5

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February 8th 2009
Published: January 28th 2009
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Heysen Trail (South) Map 3.3 - 3.7

Thats a long stepThats a long stepThats a long step

Somebody help
This morning at 8am (17/1) after parking cars at each trail head Ruth and I began the Montacute Heights to Chain of Ponds leg of the Heysen Trail. This would ultimately be the toughest leg I have attempted by far and would take the longest amount of time to complete.

We began the walk at Montacute Heights following the Narrow Range Rd, here we had a close up look at the Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos, there seem to be a number of pairs up here and we were able to get close enough to see the yellow patterns on their bellies, we also heard our first grunting Koala though we couldn’t see him in the trees. We then made our descent down a steep hill dropping two hundred metres down to Sixth Creek Road, the slope was so steep that in places we had to hold on to the wire fence to maintain our footing, as I sit here the next day writing this my thigh and hamstring muscle are still causing me much discomfort.

On reaching the bottom we climbed over a fence and began the very pleasant flat two kilometre walk along Sixth Creek Road, it was
Ruth looks happyRuth looks happyRuth looks happy

She wasnt so happy 6 and a half hours later when we finally finished
green and shady and peaceful with the only noise being the tinkling of the water and the far off sound of a dog barking and a goat bleating. A short time later we reached Valley Rd and turned to the left heading toward Montacute Conservation Park, here on the right we spotted a big male kangaroo eating the grass on the front lawn of an impressive and attractive home, the walk to the entrance of the park was both shady and pleasant with only a slight gentle incline.

We entered Montacute Park in good spirits as the walk this far had been pleasant and easy but that changed suddenly as we began to climb, a slight incline becoming progressively steeper, we then encountered our first Koala, initially we had walked straight past with out seeing him, but the grunting coming from over our heads was a dead give away of his location, I took some photo's before we started to really climb.

What a nightmare that climb was only three hundred metres in height spread over one or two kilometres but it was an absolute killer, at one stage Ruth was wobbling on her feet, it must have taken an hour to climb that hill we had to stop to rest our legs or get our breaths on many occasions, even stopping to eat our bananas around 10am because we were both starving. Eventually we reached the top at Stone Hut Road, at this point a number of trails intersect and a board provides information concerning the surrounding area, we then followed the trail down the hill before entering The Cudlee Creek Forest Reserve.

The next two kilometres again consisted of another steep incline up towards the summit of Thomas Hill by now I too was beginning to struggle, before breaking left and rising around the summit of another hill emerging at Munn's Track. It was here things went very wrong for us, instead of a gentle walk of about four kilometres down hill to Cudlee Creek, we took a wrong turn that added maybe five kilometres to the walk, much of this up hill along Munn's Track, eventually we came to a dead end which I was half expecting after not seeing a Trail marker for sometime, we decided to take Fire Track One as it appeared to be heading toward the forest. Eventually we intersected
Walking down the first hillWalking down the first hillWalking down the first hill

It was so steep we both had to hold onto the fence to retain our footing
the trail at Fire Track Six. We are both certain that the marker had been tampered with especially after looking at the map book when I got home later that day, as the marker we followed pointed the wrong way.

By now we were both getting quite exhausted and were also running low on water, luckily the walk from this point was not difficult, we stopped briefly at Granddad's Hut signing the log book before pushing on up Snake Gully Rd. The walk from here was easy although by now we were both seriously thirsty, we continued along Holland Road to the Cudlee Creek Golf Course veering right here, we decided to stop briefly at the Club House for a welcoming cold drink and chocolate bar before heading on across the Union Bridge. A steep climb up a hillside followed through old pines which fortunately provided some shade, we were both totally shattered and this was a real struggle, after a few stops we finally crested the hill, where we encountered some lovely panoramas of the surrounding country side.

It was then a walk down the other side through a private property before entering SA Water land surrounding
Taking a break near a creekTaking a break near a creekTaking a break near a creek

Shortly before entering Montacute Conservation Park
the Millbrook Reservoir near the large pipeline; finally we followed the fence line around a few bends in the road, before climbing the fence, crossing the Adelaide to Mannum Road and staggering the last hundred metres or so to the car park.

This leg which looked so much shorter then the others I have completed took more than six and a half hours and seriously tested both our fitness and our endurance. I have also learned that two bottles of water is not enough and a more precise map will be useful on future legs.

Unfortunately due the late finish we couldn’t get a pub meal on the way home, we did however make a quick stop at the Highbury Hotel for a welcome pint before heading home to finally relax, I lost two kilograms today and will probably take a few days to rehydrate.

It's Saturday morning (24/1) and it's a lovely day to tackle the next leg of the trail or half leg in this case, after last week’s marathon and as I am doing a leg tomorrow with Tim we decided that Montacute Heights to Norton Summit would suffice today. This section was about sixteen kilometres and took three and half hours to complete.

Ruth left her car in the car park of the Scenic Hotel at Norton Summit an ideal trail head while I drove us both to the Montacute Heights trail head where we began last weeks walk. We then set out along Marble Hill Rd for a kilometre or two enjoying the stunning views along the road, before turning into Moore’s Rd for an easy four kilometres walk to the entrance to Morialta Conservation Park. On entering we had to clean our shoes of the Phytophthora (known as root-rot fungus) before following the ridgeline for a few kilometres, while watching the antics of a trio of Yellow Tail Black Cockatoos (YTBC) squawking and following us from tree to tree.

Here we passed the first of the many walkers scattered around Morialta's trails, it wasn’t long until we left the easy walking on the fire track for the much narrower trail that skirted the city side of the hillside before descending into the gully itself, finally arriving at the lookout on the Yurrebilla Trail around 10am, here we ate our bananas before continuing on towards the waterfalls at the bottom of the gully.

Having walked Morialta many times before I was expecting to see much more water in the creek but the waterfalls were all dry. At the third waterfall we climbed the steep switch back trail up the side of the gully till we reached the trail marker leading off to Norton Summit 5.6 kilometres away. Here we met a couple of older gentleman who were lost, how anyone can get lost at Morialta is beyond me. This just completed section was the toughest part of today’s walk but was brief and we were soon following a track/road out of the park and onto Colonial Drive.

We passed the Morialta Cottage circa 1890 and the Morialta Barns which must be at least that old before stopping to pat a big grey gelding. A short time later we arrived in Norton Summit venturing to the Scenic Hotel for a well earned beer and a pretty good pub lunch, while a dozen or so YTBC flying and squawking overhead provided the entertainment. Ruth and I walked up here a few years back; the trail has been re-routed along Colonial Dr since then.

I must be a sucker for
Creek SettingCreek SettingCreek Setting

Sixth Creek
punishment I was up at dawn Sunday (25/1) and on my way to Tim's place for today's walk, Tim, Steve, Gino and I will be tackling the Mt Lofty Summit to Mylor leg of the trail. Around 8am we departed the summit in a south easterly direction heading down a steep trail towards the Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens and then on through the quiet town of Piccadilly which is extremely picturesque. It was then on to Woodhouse Scout Camp where some of us took advantage of the provided facilities before we crossed a bitumen road and the local golf course, the trail we are walking here is also called the Pioneer Women’s Trail.

On leaving the Golf Course we entered the Mt George Conservation Park which consisted primarily of beautiful native forest, we embarked on our first significant climb here before crossing a bridge and entering the tunnel under the South Eastern Freeway, the tunnel walls were covered in graffiti some of which bordered on "real" art. On exiting the tunnel we walked a little further before coming to a much older tunnel passing under the Adelaide to Melbourne Railway line, before following a creek to the Bridgewater Mill. The Mill was operating and was an interesting thing to see I don’t think I have seen a water mill in Australia before, although I did see a half a dozen much larger ones Hammas in Syria.

Leaving the mill we walked passed the local Bridgewater Raiders football club then up a small incline to Tower Rd, here we got temporarily lost and as usual climbed a rather steep hill for nothing, eventually we back tracked finding the hidden marker when Steve took a leak on the pole it was stuck to, otherwise we would never have found it, as some council stupid had covered it with a temporary sign.

It was then a scamper through Engelbrook Reserve which was extremely overgrown before emerging in a cul de sac, a steep climb then brought us up onto the main road to Mylor at Norris Hill. From here it was a three Kilometre walk along the side of the road before climbing another steep hill and entering the Mylor Conservation Park. The Park wasn’t large but the native vegetation was pleasant to walk through and the local Kookaburra's were laughing at our bedraggled state from the many trees surrounding us. On leaving the Park it was a brief walk down a hill and across the Aldgate River Bridge before we entered the township of Mylor.

This leg was about seventeen kilometres and took us roughly four hours to complete it was relatively flat, shady and filled with interesting terrain and historical sights, unfortunately no native fauna was encountered, but I am sure that all the lads enjoyed themselves. After returning to Mt Lofty to get my car, we retired to the Arkaba Hotel for a meal and a beer. I have only one small leg left of the trail that can be completed while fire bans are in place and that is Mt Lofty to Norton Summit, this I will complete in the near future.

It’s Sunday (8/2) and its the first decently cool day in two weeks so after a few emails to potential walking partners we are heading up to Mt Lofty to begin the walk to Norton Summit. On the way to Norton Summit where we would be placing a vehicle near the trail head we saw our first Koala as it ran down Old Summit Road towards my car. Ruth, Tim, Steve and
Koala in a tree over the trailKoala in a tree over the trailKoala in a tree over the trail

We only spotted him because of his grunts
I then drove through the hills to Mt Lofty cafe where the trail head is located; it was quite misty on the mount this morning. From here the trail initially heads down towards Waterfall Gully before looping away into Cleland Conservation Park near the Mount Lofty YHA. The first eight Kilometres or so through Cleland was easy and pleasant with only a few small climbs and thousands butterfly's as companions before emerging at a road junction. From here it was short walk along a ridge top road before arriving at Horsnell Gully Conservation Park (HGCP).

Just before arriving at HGCP we came across some emus in one of the houses along the road Tim tried feeding them Dorito's but failed. We then began an at times deep descent down into the bottom of Horsnell Gully, I am not sure what I expected but it was a walk over an uneven rocky trail that looked like a dry creek bed until we arrived at the Horsnell Gully Ruins, these buildings apparently were used by workers in the distant past.

Not long later we arrived at the Giles Conservation Park were we began the toughest and most challenging days walk up the Giles Range, this was a strenuous walk of about two and half kilometres but was nothing compared to the one Ruth and I did at Montacute a few weeks back. The best part about this section was that we spotted nine Koalas’ along the way two of them were on the same branch in the same tree. On reaching the top of the ridge it was only a short winding walk along a dangerous road to the Norton Summit Hotel where we all indulged in ale before continuing on to the Tower Hill for lunch and a few more beers.

This will be the last Heysen Trail blog until Ruth and I kick off again at Cape Jervis on the 26 April.

Additional photos below
Photos: 90, Displayed: 31


Ruth at a cross roads Ruth at a cross roads
Ruth at a cross roads

Shortly before entering Cuddly Creek Conservation Area
View of the seaView of the sea
View of the sea

When we where lost
View of  Crawford ForestView of  Crawford Forest
View of Crawford Forest

When we were lost
Cudlee Creek Golf CourseCudlee Creek Golf Course
Cudlee Creek Golf Course

Stopped for a cold drink and a chocolate bar
Crossing Union BridgeCrossing Union Bridge
Crossing Union Bridge

On the way to Chain of Ponds
Highbury HotelHighbury Hotel
Highbury Hotel

One pint here

28th January 2009

Good stuff
Good stuff mate - yours and ruths fitness must be up there with that of a prime mountain goat now :) - will have to join you for a walk soon when this heatwave finishes
8th February 2009

Gino crossing a bridge - what is he trying to become a CPA

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