Route: Heysen Trail (South Australia)

South Australia, AU

South Australia’s 1,200km Heysen Trail extends from Cape Jervis, on the Fleurieu Peninsula, to Parachilna Gorge, in the Flinders Ranges, traversing coastal areas, native bushland, rugged gorges, pine forests, vineyards, rich farmland and historic towns.

It caters for both the serious backpacker hiking the entire trail and for walkers doing day walks along shorter sections.

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Just a quick note to advise that myself (Simon Duke) and 3 mates - Rurik Symon, Marcus Staker and Dan Camac are planning to attempt to set a new Supported FKT on the Heysen Trail commencing July 10 at the Northern Parachilna Gorge trailhead. We believe it is possible but are a little nervous due to the many things that could go wrong over the distance as well as knowing the calibre of athlete that David Turnbull (DT) is (friend & mentor to all of us and FKT holder since 2017). 

We are expecting the adventure of a lifetime and the biggest test any of us have subjected ourselves too in our running to date. We are also hoping to honour the memory of Randell Taylor (RT) - who crewed DT's successful 2017 FKT, who was looking forward to being our crew chief until in November 2021 he was tragically killed in a cycling accident. RT was passionate about helping others push their limits, supporting his mates and knew the Heysen extremely well.

We are massively blessed and humbled to even have the opportunity to give it a crack.


This one served up way more on every level than we could have ever hoped or imagined! So much new territory explored in terms of landscape, logistics, teamwork, endurance of body & mind and inner work. There is no other trail that will expose you to so many beautiful and diverse landscapes of SA in one journey whilst seductively reducing you to the last threads of who you are in your inner most being….a drawn out paradox of joy and suffering that our finite minds struggle to comprehend and process in the preparation, the doing and even post completion.

6:01am start from Parachilna Gorge Northern Trailhead on Sunday 10 July, and then averaging around 90kms/day (daily stats in trip report if you click on the FKT time).

The 6:01am start every day was a tribute to friend Randell Taylor (crewed David Turnbull in 2017 and was planning on crewing for this as well) who was tragically killed in November 2021 in a cycling incident. He was often late to a weekly 6am running group (the Chambers Crushers), that now also always starts at 6:01am. Randell was a larger than life figure and genuine character who loved pushing his own limits and always supported his mates to do the same.

Notable day on Day 3 summiting Mt Arden and Mt Brown in the same day. Day 10 from My Crawford to Bridgewater through Adelaide Hills also an epic (21hrs on feet)…and again on Day 12 from Hindmarsh Tiers Rd to Tapanappa.

One of our team members Marcus ran day 3&4 with an injured ankle that unfortunately became unrunnable on day 5. After limited rest, Marcus selflessly continued to support and ran a number of days on and off for the rest of the run.

Eternally grateful to our incredible crew headed up by Liz Woodgate who was in turn capably supported by Steve Croft, Calumn Hockey, Nick Muxlow, Rhett, Nigel & Sue, Kelly, Marc Woods, Morgan Coull & Jono Camac who made all the difference keeping us out there, fed and moving forwards and allowing us to maximise rest when we got into camp each night.

Very special shout-outs to David Turnbull (2017 FKT) from Perform Best who coaches Rurik and is a mentor and friend to all of us for inspiring and generously guiding us in our preparation. Additionally, Josh Fraser who completed the trail in 21 days in 2021 also assisted with logistical insights and generously ran with us a number of days (and nights).

For camps we slept in swags the whole way which gave us flexibility, and from Wirrabara south were able to stay in a number of footy club changerooms which was amazing. 

Trail was generally well marked and GPX file very helpful whenever in doubt. Weather was incredible considering middle of winter…only 1 day and evening of rain, and a couple of days of full on wind.

Route taken included Jarvis Hill (near Hawker) and Mt Lofty scenic route through botanic gardens (not Eurilla track descent) and basically adopted principle of most direct through route (so didn’t go into Hawker & Quorn but skirted close by). Due to extensive parts of the trail passing through Forestry reserves and private land it is expected that the trail route will change slightly in these areas from time to time.

Finally arrived at the Cape Jervis Southern Trailhead at 2:21pm on Friday 22 July with many supportive friends, family and interested people present and had the most amazing rest, showers and food ever in the days following!

So many km’s, countless memories, a new level of grind and discomfort, and definitely no regrets!