ART AND SOUL OF THE HEY­SEN TRAIL

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - South Australia Holidays -

HON­OUR­ING the con­tri­bu­tion to the way Hans Hey­sen opened our eyes and hearts to the Aus­tralian land­scape is the Hey­sen Trail, one of the world’s great walk­ing ex­pe­ri­ences. Not that Hey­sen ac­tu­ally walked it as the trail didn’t ex­ist as an en­tity in his time. From its start­ing point 100km south of Ade­laide at Cape Jervis, it passes through Hey­sen’s favourite, and most of­ten painted, re­gions in the Ade­laide Hills and up to his beloved Flin­ders Ranges.

But in 1926, when Hey­sen vis­ited the Flin­ders Ranges for the first time, he was so over­whelmed, he didn’t lift a brush. Nev­er­the­less, he was to re­turn of­ten, and went on to por­tray the rugged wilder­ness in all its drama and harsh beauty. The roads have im­proved since then but the soli­tude and grandeur, the colours and the light, are un­changed. (Ex­cept Wilpena Pound camp­site on long week­ends and hol­i­days when soli­tude is hard to imag­ine.)

The north­ern leg of the Hey­sen Trail takes walk­ers to Brachina Gorge, which looks just like the paint­ing, while to sim­ply walk and be in the re­gion is to un­der­stand and share Hey­sen’s pas­sion for the land. Eighty years ago, his Flin­ders pic­tures were first ex­hib­ited to an awestruck Ade­laide and so be­gan the process of open­ing eyes to the coun­try be­yond the city.

For the en­er­getic and ded­i­cated, the Hey­sen Trail will take rather longer than strolling around the Art Gallery of South Aus­tralia. The coastal walk from Cape Jervis to Vic­tor Har­bor is do-able for most keen walk­ers, es­pe­cially with the prom­ise of a cray lunch

Na­ture’s pal­ette: View from Dutch­mans Stern in the Gam­mon Ranges along the Hey­sen Trail at its end, which should get you pow­er­ing along the 90km of breath­tak­ing cliffs, with sea ea­gles, seals, wild­flow­ers and ocean views.

Turn­ing north up the Fleurieu Penin­sula to the well-named Mt Mag­nif­i­cent is a more se­ri­ous hike, al­though not dif­fi­cult. Along the way you’ll stum­ble over vine­yards, cafes, and pretty B & Bs.

Fur­ther north again and the Mt Lofty Range is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble from Ade­laide for day walks or a more am­bi­tious trek of a few days. Con­tinue north to the Barossa and the ter­rain is criss-crossed with vine­yards and grad­u­ally be­comes more rugged.

Would-be walk­ers should be prop­erly kit­ted out for the jour­ney as the weather can be ex­tremely hot and can also turn sud­denly chilly; wa­ter, sun­screen and warm clothes are es­sen­tial. Parts of the track are iso­lated and have min­i­mal mod cons, so take what you think you’ll need. Check con­di­tions with the ex­perts and pay at­ten­tion to ad­vi­sory signs.

The trail is usu­ally open from April to Oc­to­ber and closed dur­ing the fire dan­ger sea­son; dates vary and should be checked. Diana Sim­monds

www.hey­sen­trail.asn.au

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