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Published October 16th 2014
South Australia's 2nd highest walking trail
South Australia's 2nd highest walking trail is on the highest mountain south of Port Augusta and is known as Mt Brown. Mt Brown is the centrepiece of the Mt Brown Conservation Park approximately 15km south of the township of Quorn.
The Mt Brown Summit Hike starts at the Olive Grove Trailhead near the (mostly dry) Waukarie Falls. A short walk from this Trailhead takes you to Checkpoint #1 in readiness for the 15km loop to the Summit and return. An alternative more direct up/down walk to the Summit has the lesser distance of around 12km.
From the first checkpoint the hike follows the Waukarie Creek west for 400m until reaching Checkpoint #2. The path then turns south and follows a tributary creek that feeds the Waukarie Creek during periods of rain. The well worn path, being part of the Heysen Trail, passes by some majestic and ageing river red gums which tower over many smaller native bushes and plants.
At the 2km mark, Checkpoint 3 arrives, and signals the start of the uphill climb. The terrain changes from the softer soils associated with the creek bed to the more hardened quartzite, shale and limestone soils associated with the Wonoka Formation, as seen in many areas of the northern Flinders Ranges. After 3.7km, the spur trail to the Bald Hills Lookout arrives. A short 50m path leads to this lookout which is halfway up the mountain, and provides some tremendous early views of the hills and surrounds of the Pichi Richi Pass.
The path continues gently uphill until it reaches a major junction point at Checkpoint #4 at around 5km. From here the spur trail to the Summit is another 1km on a slightly steeper (15-20% gradient) but still comfortably wide path.
The information boards and the plaques at the summit suggest that Mt Brown was discovered by and named after Robert Brown, a naturalist who came aboard the HMS Investigator in 1802. After being dropped ashore, Brown and a party took 3 days to walk to the summit and to return back to their ship. The Summit also has a plaque commemorating Assistant Surveyor General G.W. Goyder, who also travelled to this peak in 1859 to establish a trigonometrical station to provide aid to Surveyors when extending triangulation surveys north of Burra. From the viewpoint at the top it is also possible to view the imaginary Goyder's Line which distinguishes the fertile crop growing land, from the more arid and desolate lands.
Returning from the summit and back to Checkpoint #4, the Mt Brown Summit Loop Trail veers to the east, and follows the range around to a saddle where Checkpoint #6 is located, and where there are good views of the Willochra Plain to the east, and views of Mt Remarkable in the South. From checkpoint #6, there are three fences / stiles to cross and another 3km of an undulating trail. After 12.5km the path heads downhill providing some extensive views of the Richman Valley through to Quorn.
The path soon returns to checkpoint #1 and then it is a short walk past a disused windmill back to the carpark. The Mt Brown Summit Hike is a total of 15km with an estimated time for completion being between 4 and 7 hours dependent upon conditions and number of photographers in the walking group.