Heysen Day 15: Melrose to Murray Town (18km today, 332.8km on trail)

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Wow what a wet and wild windy day.

It bucketed down last night and I was happy with my call to race into town for a warm hotel room. Huge, gusty winds up to 60km ripped through Melrose. There is a crazy weather event happening right across south east South Australia.

Today was going to be similar, particularly the strong winds, bringing the chill factor down well into single digits. I toyed with the idea of holding up for another day but there were no guarantees that it wouldn’t persist and I can’t take every wet day off – the trail would be very slow to complete otherwise. The worst of the rains had past but more was forecast. It was with trepidation that I made the decision to push on today. It was only going to be a short distance day and I had plenty of time.

I held off leaving town early, waiting instead for the cafe to open and starting the day with a cooked breakfast and coffee. Bouts of rain came and went and by the time I had finished breakfast I reckoned it had cleared enough to start moving.

The break in weather did not last long at all and only 15 minutes in I was hunkered down under my jacket hood, the collar done up tight. Rain bucketed down, coming in sideways with the gusty winds. There was still a chance to back out but my feet led me further away from town.

It was a crazy day all day. No opportunity to take any photos. Even if there was, the screen on my phone was too wet to operate properly to take a shot.

It was a head down, shoulder to the wind type of day. The rain was saturating and the wind knocked me around. I took just one break between Melrose and Murray Town, seeking shelter in a dilapidated old house for a quick snack and to get my phone dried to tell how much further into town I had. Only four and a half kilometres and a short road walk into town.

I pressed on determined to find some shelter and get out of the weather, walking at a very fast pace.

I reached town around 1pm but there was little reprieve from the weather, the rain yes, the wind no. Murray Town is a very small town with no accomodation, pub or services. The town does offer a very basic caravan park but it’s basically a parking lot for campervans and caravans with a small toilet block. Nothing in the way of undercover shelter for hikers apart from a large rotunda in the middle of a paddock. Or so I thought for a few hours.

And that is where I find myself. Sheltered from the rain and dry, with little cover from the winds in the open rotunda. I’m calling it home tonight and will set up to cowboy camp under here when it gets dark. For now my afternoon will be hot cups of tea and attempting to dry stuff out. At least 40km the wind is strong enough to dry stuff out surprisingly.

I’ve upturned tables and bench seats to create a bit of buffer from the winds which are expected to persist through the night. Thinking I’ll push big tomorrow, rail, hail or shine to start getting some more distance in and get one step closer to a town if tomorrow is another wild one. I can spend one night on trail in a downpour but would be hard pressed to back it up for a second day if there is no opportunity to dry gear out.

Pretty happy with my packing system. Everything had stayed completely dry inside my pack. Just the clothes I was wearing were wet.

No photos today. Only this one of home for the night.

Shortly after writing this Bruce and Isabel whom I met briefing in my way into Quorn showed up having come from the south. They are out section hiking their last little piece of the Heysen Trail. We were chatting away when the Treasurer of the caravan park was walking past and pointed out the three sided camp kitchen which we could stay in. An awesome upgrade with hot water, showers, power points and an electric kettle. We all quickly relocated and settled in for the evening sheltered from the winds.

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