The Heysen Trail from Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula to Parachilna Gorge in the Flinders Ranges is 1200 kilometres, takes 60 days and is Australia's longest walking trail. It passes through knotted hills and rocky creeks, passing those blue and white ghost gums (which its namesake, Hans Heysen, was so famous for painting), from the windswept Southern sea to the sun baked ancient Flinders Ranges.
And while that 1200 kilometres and 60 days is daunting, there are other ways to approach the trail. You can do it in sections (perhaps a different one each weekend) or just meander and picnic at the national parks that it passes through.
Some of the highlights that are an easy drive from Adelaide include:
Horsnell Gully Conservation park- through Cleland Conservation Park, 1 km from Summerton, through to the Horsnell Gully Conservation Park to Norton Summit. Expect steep gullies. This section is 9 kilometres long and it will take you around 3.5 hours.
Deep Creek Conservation Park- this walk runs through dense, rugged bush and there is a beautiful waterfall. Wildlife includes the Grey Kangaroo, Short-beaked Echidnas, Ring-tailed Possums and Yellow-footed Antechinus.
Mt Remarkable- this section has spectacular views of the Willochra Plains and the deep blue arch of sea which is the top of the Spencer Gulf. It's 12. 5 kilometres long and should take around 5 hours.
The Dutchman's Stern Conservation Park- this part is dotted with sugar gums and striped in rocky ridges. You can also look down over the Spencer Gulf from here. It gets its name from the shape of the Bluff, which resembles the stern of a Dutch sailing ship. The Heysen trail runs for 12 kilometres through the park and should take about 6 hours.
Walking the Heysen Trail is free. However, camping fees apply in national parks and reserves or if entering by vehicle. The Heysen Trail is closed during the fire danger season each year (usually 1 December to 30 April).
There are guide books for sale from the Friends of Heysen Trail Shop (10 Pitt Street, Adelaide, South Australia).