Terry Lavender, an Englishman from Surry, was the architect of one of the world’s great walking trails — the Heysen Trail, which snakes its way from Cape Jervis to rugged Parachilna Gorge, in the Central Flinders Ranges.
He died at the age of 62 in 2004.
Terry also came up with the idea of the Federation Trail which runs for 320km from Murray Bridge to Clare in the state’s Mid North.
When this trail was constructed after his death, it was named in his honour.
The eastern escarpment of the mount Lofty Ranges is dryer and has more farmland and less forests. However it is not without it’s beauty. There are boulder strewn hillsides, hidden gorges, dry creaks and mallee forests. It has a distinctive flavour all of it’s own. As for wildlife, it is also home to some of the more sought after species in the Adelaide region.
Frances started walking the Lavender trail with her friend Anne in 2017. I tagged along as a companion as the walks got further from home and more onerous.
Over time we have invited other friends to join us and we have slowly worked our way from Murray Bridge to just short of Eudunda.
The trail leaves Murray Bridge to follow the railway line to the Mobilong detention centre and beyond to the Kinchina conservation park and on to the township of Monarto. This is an excellent spot for birdwatching with many dry woodland species including bee eaters and wood swallows and hooded robins. This year there were crimson chats visiting in good numbers.
The dryland birds continue as you skirt around the Brown’s road habitat in the hills overlooking Callington. There are pardalottes, Diamond firetail finches, Purple back wrens and in the hollow tree trunks the secretive Owlet-Nightjar lives. From here the path turns north and you walk amongst the rolling Hills and hidden creeks to Rockleigh, up the steep side of Mt Beevor and through to Tungkillo. Sometimes you walk along a road, or a country track, or follow a fence line, or a dry stone wall. Sometimes a single arrow points across a grassy paddock and you have to make your way to a distant marker that you can’t quite see yet.
From Mt Beevor you can see the river Murray in the East and Mt Barker and Kanmantoo to the South. Mt Beevor was named after an early surveyor of the same name.
Past Tungkillo you enter the boulder strewn escarpments that have the same spooky feel as the Yorkshire moors, particularly when it rains. A wedge-tail eagle alights from a killed lamb and glides several valleys away before you come close enough to take a photograph. Kangaroos lie sleeping in their earthen scrapes on the lee side of rocky boulders. Their troops form and disappear over the skyline as you approach. Monarch butterflies congregate around the blossoms of milkweed in the paddocks.
Past Keyneton and Parrot Hill you make your way to Truro. There are a number of unexpected gorges on either side of the township. There is a beauty in the trees, the contours of the ploughed fields. Sometimes I might stop to photograph a single tree framed by nothing but a blue sky and a featureless green field. “What did you see?” “Nothing much, just minimalism”.
We have got to the point where we must travel to Anguston or Eudunda in the caravan in order to undertake the remaining hikes. We have about 120kms left to go. I have thoroughly enjoyed the Lavender Trail to date and recommend it to anyone who has a taste to try something a little different. Certainly at this difficult time when all of the state borders are closed and our tourism is curtailed, it is a good option. You can buy the maps at the scout centre, or any of the outdoor and hiking shops.