A long distance walking trail – ​Heysen Trail

History Boards
History Boards in George Town

We first came across the Heysen Trail when stopping at Georgetown in South Australia, it is 50 kms south-east of Port Pirie. When you arrive there you realise that this is a real Australian outback town but not all that far from reasonable sized cities, like Adelaide (200 kms North of Adelaide).

The Heysen Trail runs from Cape Jervis on the South Coast of South Australia to the Flinders Ranges, in total around 1200 kilometres long. It runs right through the middle of Georgetown, we studied the Trail from the history boards in the main street.

The idea of creating the Heysen Trail was first suggested by Warren Bonython (OA) in 1969 but as always seems to be the case with something of this magnitude politics and access to land were big factors in the slow progress of the making of the Trail.

The first 50 kilometres of the Trail were completed in 1978 and Terry Lavender (OAM), who worked for Department of Recreation and Sport was the main designer of the track finally completing it in 1992.

A long distance walking trail

Heysen Trail
Heysen Trail

The Heysen Trail is a long distance walking trail which crosses many different landscapes from the Adelaide Hills to the flat land near Georgetown and everything else in between.

Given that it is 1200 kilometres in length the only people who are walking the whole length are those who are experienced in walking or hiking and physically fit. On the assumption that the average walker would cover 20 kilometres in a day then it would take around 60 days to complete the entire trail in one attempt.

There is a regular programme of walking events, which cater for all types of walkers. The average person may only want to walk a shorter section, perhaps two, which can all be arranged via the Friends of the Heysen Trail website at a minimal cost. There are no facilities on the Heysen Trail itself however the following options are available via The Friends of the Heysen Trail website:

  • Campsites along the trail
  • B&B’s, Hotels etc in towns along the trail
  • A list of services like internet, doctors along the trail
  • Buses, Taxis and private tour operators all service the trail
  • maps to download for your GPS; and so much more

Some maps available to download are for each section, I have listed the first four sections, purely out of interest:

  • Map 1: Cape Jervis to Kuitpo Forest
  • Map 2: Kuitpo Forest to Tanunda
  • Map 3: Tanunda to Burra
  • Map 4: Burra to Spalding
Heysen Trail Distance Between Camp Sites
Heysen Trail Distance Between Camp Sites – obtained from the “Friends of the Heysen Trail” website

As these are printed (or PDF files) they may be superseded at anytime and therefore you should also look for any “Re-Routes” as from time to time there will be closures for any number of reasons, two come to mind:

  • bush fires
  • maintenance

Apart from the Department for Environment & Water (DEW) the trail is also managed by the friends of the Heysen Trail and also volunteers and other walking clubs.

Look after the trail

I would expect that the majority of people walking the trail would be serious walkers or hikers there will still be a number of people who walk this trail without knowing about the specific sensitivities of the native bushland.

In areas there are specific types of fungus, Phytophthora, which can be carried to other “uninfected” parts of the bush. There are a number of natives which are most susceptible:

  • gum trees,
  • banksias,
  • yaccas

Please ensure that you utilise the footwear cleaning stations along the trail to clean mud and slush from your boots. This will reduce the risk of transporting the fungus to other uninfected areas of the native bush land.


It is the responsibility of every person who walks the trail either in part or full to do their bit to help maintain the trail. It is the same with everything we have in this wonderful country, we all need to play our part so that others may enjoy our countryside.

Please let me know what you think of the Heysen Trail in the comments boxes below, I would love to hear what you think.




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2 thoughts on “A long distance walking trail – ​Heysen Trail

  1. Riaz Shah Reply

    Hey Steve,
    I’ve heard of the Heysen Trail, always wanted to go but I never have the time when I go to Adelaide. I love nature, I work 12 hours a day in the office staring at nothing but computers, files, and telephones so getting some time off to rejuvenate myself is a bliss!

    Hiking the Heysen Trail, is on my bucket list! Hows the temperature in the forest though? I hear it’s around 6 degrees in the morning.

    • Steve Reply

      Hi Riaz,

      The Heysen Trail is unique given the diversity of country that it crosses during its 1200 kilometres.

      From the ocean at Cape Jervis through the Adelaide hills passing through the Clare Valley into George Town and on and on, the temperatures vary significantly depending on the time of year you are hiking the Trail.

      When I was in the Clare Valley last it was early May and the temperature was getting down to zero overnight, presumably the Adelaide hills at that time was colder.

      By preparing correctly you will enjoy the walk, but may I suggest that you break it into 3 stages unless you are an experienced hiker. An average of 20 kilometres a day will see you complete the entire Trail in 60 days. That’s a big ask.

      Thank you for your interest, I hope you get to do your “Bucket List” items including the Heysen Trail.

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