Thru Hiking the Lavender Federation Trail – Sept 2018 – Page 9

19 September – Footeside Farm to Dutton 26.5 km

Over breakfast we contemplated the fiery sunrise, which doesn’t auger well, and a long day ahead climbing over the ranges. Pip, the dog, the farm cat and Peter were on hand to say goodbye as we set off in the sun with our old enemy the Antarctic wind blowing steadily from the west.

The trail started on roads today then wound through paddocks climbing up hills and down into gullies in a roller coaster motion that gradually climbed higher. The trail turned off Smith Road to follow a creek through private property in lightly wooded grazing land. It picked up Smith Road again at the “Shannon” property where a couple of friendly horses wanted some attention.

Leakes Pass Road climbed upwards for about 3km. A short way up this road we could see the rain bearing down on us quickly and just had time to get the wet weather gear on. It looked as if this rain was set in for the day but the wind blew it away in 15 minutes so that at the top of Leakes Pass Road, we enjoyed warm patches of sunshine in sheltered spots.

Leaving Leakes Pass Road we followed a dirt track over a hilltop and down to a creek, cut deeply into the landscape. This creek had the first water that I would call drinkable that we had seen in 8 days. As we approached the prominent Leakes Lookout, the forest became thicker with some native pines amongst the gums. The final climb up to Leakes Lookout was rocky and steep but not very long. The wind was strong and cold at the lookout so we took shelter on the lee side and sat down in the sunshine to enjoy our lunch and the terrific view. We could see Eudunda, Dutton and the Southern Ocean and way below in the valley a farmer, checking a pump in a dam.

Coming off the mountain we walked through a lambing paddock with several lambs which had obviously been born that day. Anxious mothers stood by their lambs which were struggling to work out how to use those four gangling legs under them. We were still climbing in and out of gullies but now heading downhill. Late in the day, after more showers, the sun came out and the hills that we had hiked and the extensive fields of flowering canola looked superb.

We arrived in Dutton and made our way to St Johns Lutheran church for a look at the historic old building. While there we noticed a water tank and filled our bottles and bags as we had been told that there is no town water in Dutton. Thank you St John! Our campsite for the night was recommended to us by Trevor, the postmaster at Eudunda, who is a trail maintainer. It is at a bend of Habel Street about 500m east of Dutton. In a small patch of woodland is a table and BBQ set up for picnickers. We moved in and pitched our tents as much out of the wind as we could. Some patches of sunshine were enjoyed in the later afternoon and we cooked only our second evening meal on this walk.