The Heysen Trail (North) - Part 1

Published: May 25th 2009
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Parachilna Trip

After a few months of planning I am heading up to Parachina to walk the northern most section of the Heysen Trail. I am doing this walk over 4 days with Tim, Mark and Marks dad Kim, the plan was to leave at 5 am on Thursday (14/5) and drive the 5 hours up to the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna where we will be staying, hopefully we will be on the trail to complete the first section to Aroona Ruins by 11am.

Well that didnt happen mainly because it took so long to get through Brachina Gorge in my little car that there was no way we could drop the cars in place and finish the walk before dark. So we checked out the trail heads and then headed to the Blinman hotel for a drink and a feed, fortunately the Wilpena road is almost totally sealed from Hawker to Blinman now. On leaving Blinman we drove through the Parachilna Gorge before arriving in Parachilna in the late afternoon.

On arrival we put our gear in our little rooms before hitting the pub for a number of ales and a good meal before sitting outside to watch the sunset over the desert. Around 8pm the coal train from Leigh Creek passed by on its way to Pt Augusta it totalled 161 cars. The overflow accomodation was crawling with drilling crews who came and went throughout the night the snoring was incredible.

The following morning we were up and on our way as the sun rose over the ranges, it took three and a half hours to get the cars in place at the Parachilna and Aroona trail heads. The walk through the gorge country was special, the rugged hills on either side of the trail were as impressive as the geological formations scattered along the way. Some signs of farming had not completely faded into time as we spotted the odd rusting reminder, we saw little in the way of wildlife until the Pigeon Bore (which still worked) at the three quarter point of the hike (12km) was behind us, I spotted a ferral cat, some kangaroos and a few emus all within a few minutes.

A short time later Tim and I arrived at the ruins of the Aroona Homestead took a seat on a handy bench had a snack and peered at the mountains as we waited for Mark and Kim to arrive, we took a few more photographs before heading to the car for the drive back to my car in Parachilna Gorge. On arrival at the spot where my car awaited we decided to drive back the 3km to the Angorichina Tourist Park for fuel, unfortunately Mark got a puncture a long the way which resulted in a night drive back to our lodgings at the Prairie Hotel. Dinner, a few more beers and a little more train spotting was to follow.

The next morning saw another early start as we were on the road back through Parachilna Gorge as the sun rose, todays hike would start on Brachina Gorge Rd near the Trezona Campsite before winding back though the hills to the Aroona Homestead. After taking a few dramatic morning photographs we frightened a few roos as we began the walk, initially crossing a large creek before entering a semi desert landscape dodging numerous rabbit holes scattered across the trail. After walking about 7 kilometres we circumnavigated a small hill startling a few emu as we sighted the ruined Monela Hut and the windmill of Trezona Bore.

Tim and I waited about 40 minutes for Mark and Kim to arrive before we all began the slow climb through a native pine forest to the Brachina Lookout, the views here of the Heysen Range where superb, Tim and I spent some time admiring the views before we continued down through the scrubby forest towards Aroona. About two kilometres from the end of the walk we climbed a series of undulating hills before finding a shady spot and waited for Mark and Kim to come around a bend in the road before pushing onto the finish at the Aroona Ruins and campsite. The walk took about 5 hours and was incredibly enjoyable with some truly splendid scenery along the way.

From Aroona we returned to collect my car and then continued on to Hawker where we would stay in the relative luxury of the Hawker Hotel, at least in compared to the previous nights. The food at the pub was good the beer even better and the Crows game was on the TV so it turned out to be a great final night to the trip. The next morning I noticed the steering in my car seemed a bit sloppy this resulted in a worrisome trip back to Adelaide but my littel car didnt let me down.

In summary our trip to the Flinders Ranges was a success even if we only walked two of the four legs to Wilpena Pound that I had planned, the scenery and weather were fantastic and I really enjoyed spending a few hours in the country pubs along the way.

Additional photos below
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3rd August 2009

Was a great trip
Was a very enjoyable trip but so much more to see and do up there - will have to go back again

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