Interstate walkers Ross Kendall (Ballina), Roger Edwards (Canberra), Alan Gillard (Ballina) recently completed the Lavender Federation Trail, from North to South and have been kind enough to share their great story with us. We have divided the story up into many pages so it is easier to read, based on the story, day by day. Ross is the author of this true adventure.
Thru Hiking the Lavender Federation Trail (intro)
Alan, Roger and I are all in our sixties and doing things that we never had time to do during our working days. Since 2009 we have hiked a long trail every year, including the Larapinta Trail, Bibbulmun Track, Great North Walk, Australian Alps Walking Trail and the Heysen Trail. I really enjoyed the Heysen Trail because of its diversity and its length of 1200 km: when it comes to trails, the longer the better!
From dropping into the Heysen Trail website, I became aware that a new trail, the Lavender Federation Trail was under construction. I found the website for the trail and watched for the anticipated opening day of the last section of the trail. It finally came in May, 2018 so it was time to make plans.
By its nature The Lavender Federation Trail has been set up to cater mainly for day walkers. No camping is allowed anywhere along the length of the trail, water sources are few and far between (two tanks along the entire length of the trail and few creeks with potable water), accommodation in many villages is unsuitable or non existent and resupply options along the trail are limited. No problem! We are from NSW and ACT so section hiking was not an option. We would start at one end and finish at the other. Thats my preferred way of hiking a trail anyway. One or two days on the trail is like taking nibbles from a cake – I want to eat the whole cake in one sitting! Apart from that there are many other advantages to thru hiking. You become more in tune with the landscape and the trail. The trail becomes your friend, leading you forward to shelter, food and water and at some stage, the end. Looking for trail markers becomes second nature after a week on the trail. At an intersection, you know where to look for the markers. Then there is the unfettered feeling of freedom, with everything you have and need on your back and the open trail in front – its exhilarating!
We usually time most of our hikes to start in late winter or early spring to take advantage of winter rains bringing water to creeks and tanks. There is also the advantage of generally green and lush countryside, wildflowers in the bush and flowering plants in gardens in track towns. Our start date on the Lavender Federation Trail was decided on: 11 September, 2018. We decided to start at Clare and finish in Murray Bridge in order to catch the Overland train from Murray Bridge to Melbourne, from where we could all fly home.