• South Australian Tourism Award Winner 2009
  • South Australian Tourism Award Winner 2008
  • South Australian Tourism Award Winner 2007
Hike the Heysen  image
  • Eco Certified Advanced Ecotourism Member
  • Accredited Tourism Business Australia Member

Hike the Heysen

Hike the Heysen

Hike the Heysen is a walking day trip business on the Fleurieu Peninsula specialising in hikes along the Coastal Wildlife section of the famous Heysen Trail.

The Heysen Trail starts at Cape Jervis and continues to Victor Harbor, through to the Adelaide Hills and all the way to the Flinders Ranges. The total length of the Heysen Trail is 1,144 kms. Named after the famous Sir Hans Heysen, a famous South Australian Artist the Heysen trail is in honour of the famous landscape paintings that this artist completed of the wonderful state that South Australia is.

Hike the Heysen Coastal Wildlife Walk is an unguided hike along the Heysen trail from Waitpinga to Victor Harbor incorporating Newland Head, Kings Head and the Victor harbor Bluff.

During the winter months enjoy the famous Victor Harbor Whale Season and enjoy views of the Southern Wright Whales from spectacular cliff top locations along the Heysen Trail. All year round the views and wildlife are spectacular as you enjoy the coastal and rural views all the way to Victor harbor.

The Heysen Trail Coastal Wildlife Walk is a perfect way to enjoy the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula and is an excellent day out for individuals, couples and families alike and is fast becoming a signature walk in South Australia on the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Coastal Wildlife Walk - Self Guided

Self Guided - Hike the Heysen Day Walk

This day walk is designed to cater for specialty, school or social groups.

We pick you up from your accommodation in Victor harbor (other locations available upon request and drive you to your starting point at Waitpinga Beach where you commence your 5 hour hike through to Victor harbor. You are provided with day pack, water bottle and interpretive map, safety equipment, spray jacket and lunch and snacks to be enjoyed along the way.

There is a beautiful scenic picnic table located at your lunch spot along the way and some interpretive signage. You are provided with interpretive information to find out more information along the way.

Enjoy the 5 headland views all the way to Victor Harbor and the bluff, hike up the bluff at the end of the walk for fantastic 360 degree views over Victor Harbor and beyond and enjoy the spectacular views, the wildlife along the way and finish off being transfered back to you accommodation in the Victor Harbor area.


  • Transport to Waitpinga Beach from the Anchorage Hotel in Victor Harbor
  • Delicious healthy lunch
  • Day pack including emergency equipment, first aid kit and spray jacket
  • Interpretive map and drink bottle

Prices start from $69 per person for a self guided tour.


About the Heysen Trail

South Australia's Heysen Trail is a 1,200 km walking trail that extends from Cape Jervis, on the rugged south coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula, to Parachilna Gorge, in the Flinders Ranges.

The Trail has been designed to cater for both the serious backpacker walking the complete trail, and for the day walker who might choose to do short walks along different sections of the trail.

The Heysen Trail passes through some of South Australia's most diverse and breathtaking landscapes, traversing coastal areas, native bushland, rugged gorges, pine forests and vineyards, as well as rich farmland and historic towns. The Trail passes through some of the most scenic parts of the state including national parks, state forests and internationally acclaimed tourist destinations, including the Barossa Valley and the stunning Wilpena Pound. The southern section, from Cape Jervis to Spalding in the Mid North, is ideal for beginners and those with children, following the Mount Lofty Ranges. The northern section, from Spalding to Parachilna Gorge, is isolated and at time rugged, provides a rewarding challenge for experienced walkers.

The Trail has been designed to cater for both the serious backpacker walking the complete trail, and for the day walker who might choose to do short walks along different sections of the trail.

Phytophthora Risk

Phytophthora is an introduced root-rot disease which is killing native plants. Plants that are susceptible include gums, banksias and yaccas - all of which provide important habitat and food for native wildlife.

There is no cure for Phytophthora, nor is there any way of stopping its spread once it has infested an area. We can, however, slow down its movement, and minimise its introduction into new areas by modifying the way we behave in Phytophthora infested areas or Phytophthora prone areas.

Phytophthora has the ability to live in most of the southern areas of South Australia, including the Mt Lofty Ranges around Adelaide and the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Bushwalkers can spread Phytophthora by allowing moist soil and plant material to stick to footwear. Please use the footwear cleaning stations along the Heysen Trail, and familiarise yourself with the bushwalking guidelines listed in the Department for Environment and Heritage's Bushwalking Guidelines.
Remember: the best way to control the fungus is to prevent the dispersal of infested soil or plant material.

Spread the word - not the fungus!

More information can be found on the Department for Environment and Heritage website.

Sir Hans Heysen Information

Sir Hans Heysen has a gallery in Hahndorf South Australia at the stables or his work can be seen at the Hahndorf Gallery. Hahndorf is a picturesque town in the Adelaide Hills and has an interesting history. It is also where Luke Talbot-Male the owner of Hike the Heysen grew up in his childhood years through to a teenager!

Wilhelm Ernst Hans Franz Heysen, born on 8 October 1877 in Hamburg, Germany, came to South Australia with his family in 1884 when he was seven years old. His father, a merchant of modest means, had come out ahead of the family to get a place, work and establish himself. Unfortunately economic conditions during the 1880s were not very good and Mr Heysen did not find any long-term jobs. Consequently the family moved several times, young Hans attended a number of different schools between 1885 and 1892. During the school holidays he often visited friends in Hahndorf, which he liked very much. He had shown an early interest in art, especially drawing and painting, and was pleased with the rural landscape of Hahndorf.

His father found him a job at five shillings a week and Hans started work at Norwood. With some of his saved money he was now able to buy brushes and paint. At the age of sixteen, young Hans went to Art School in his spare time, when not working for his father delivering farm produce. In 1897 Robert Barr Smith paid for a year tuition for him at the School of Design. Within two years Hans sold his first painting, The wet road, to his art teacher. He entered some of his work in Adelaide exhibitions and soon his work became highly regarded.

As early as 1899 a local paper wrote, Hans Heysen may fairly be described as the coming landscape artist of South Australia. He has not yet 'arrived' perhaps in the fullest artistic sense of the word, but has proved indisputably his talent in oils and also as a 'drawer of water'. Young Heysen goes straight to the heart of nature for his subject, and gets there. His examples of Australian scenery displayed at the annual exhibition of the Society of Arts have attracted considerable attention, and general admiration has been expressed at the excellence of his work.

"A great tribute to young Heysen as an artist is to be found in the fact that he is already represented in the Art Gallery in South Australia's public collection of works. He is by no means a copyist, but paints chiefly from nature, thinking rightly that he can do more faithful work by following this course. He has obtained first prize, presented by Sir James Linton, for landscape in watercolour, and a silver star for drawing in charcoal at an exhibition held in London in March 1899".

In 1899 a number of business people in Adelaide paid for him to study in Europe on the condition that everything he produced would become their property. Hans left in early 1900 and stayed most of his time in Paris at the Academie Julian and the Ecole des Beaux Arts. One summer he studied in Amsterdam and his last year, in Italy and Capri, was used to learn some of the different techniques in Italy.

When he returned in 1903, he did not have any money as a result of his arrangement with his 'benefactors'. Hans was now twenty-six and had to start all over again. He found a studio in Currie Street, Adelaide and took up painting full time. After all, he knew all the techniques and his subject matter was wherever he looked. To add to his income he held art classes. In 1904 he married Selma Bartels and won his first major Australian Art prize.

During 1908 Hans, his wife Selma and children moved to Hahndorf, and Heysen was able to pursue his great passion, the painting of the Australian bush. He soon had some very successful exhibitions. One in Melbourne was opened by Prime Minister Alfred Deakin in 1908. From the income of these exhibitions the Heysen Family was able to rent a cottage in Billygoat Lane in Hahndorf.

After a number of even more successful exhibitions, the Heysens were able to buy The Cedars in Hahndorf in 1912. This house had been constructed in 1872 by Alfred Wheelwright and called Blackwood. The Heysens changed its name and Hans built his studio, of limestone carted from the nearby Verdun quarries, in the garden. It was here at the Cedars that they raised their eight children and Hans produced most of his famous work. It was also here where Heysen finished and altered many of his watercolours and oil paintings started on different locations, often years before.

Another successful exhibition was held in 1915 which was opened by Dame Nellie Melba. The sales at these exhibitions were so successful that Heysen was able to stop teaching and devote all his time and energy on his own painting.

Although a naturalised Australian (British Subject) and well known, Heysen did suffer some persecution during the years 1914-1918. However he and his family weathered these and eventually life returned to normal.

During 1926 Heysen had visited the Flinders Ranges and was highly impressed with its scenery, in particular its great variety of beautiful gum trees. Many years later he wrote a letter to Hans Mincham in which he said; "The Flinders region has held a 'spell' over me ever since I first went to Quorn and Hawker looking for new material for brush and pencil. Since then my interest in this unique landscape has grown with each successive trip. The great Red Gums in the creek beds fill me with wonder; their feeling of strength of limb, of vigour and life, suggest the very spirit of endurance". His well-known watercolour, Guardian of Brachina Gorge, was finished in 1937 at the Cedars from several drawings made in the early 1930s.

He soon turned out a large number of very detailed sketches and paintings of these trees, and the Australian bush. Apart from these he also painted still lives, portraits, pastoral scenes and seascapes, using oil, watercolour, pencil, chalk, acrylic and charcoal.

Heysen had more than thirty major exhibitions and won the prestigious Wynne Prize for landscape painting nine times between 1904 and 1932. Heysen was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1945 and knighted in 1959.

Hans Heysen, one of South Australia's most significant and popular artist, and his wife Selma, lived at The Cedars for the rest of their lives. Hans died in 1968. His daughter Nora was the only one of his children to follow in his footsteps. She became an established artist in her own right and a trailblazer for women artists in Australia.

One of the world's most scenic, and longest walking trail, stretching from Cape Jervis to Parachilna Gorge, a distance of some 1500 kilometres, has been named The Heysen Trail. The Heysen Range in the Flinders Ranges has also been named after him as were the twin tunnels on the Freeway on the way to Hahndorf. A railway carriage of the Ghan was also named after him.


Hans Heysen- The Artist's Walk

The walk relocates eleven of Heysen's favoured painting localities on his property, The Cedars. Hans Heysen purchased the Cedars in 1912 from the proceeds of a highly successful exhibition of his work held in Melbourne that same year.

In 1938 Heysen purchased two adjoining properties, extending the acreage from the original 40 acres to just over one hundred and fifty acres. This investment was made for conservation reasons alone, in order to safeguard his beloved gums.

The land was not utilised for grazing or agricultural purposes but solely for the protection of the gums ensuring their future regeneration. The acreage still remains at the one hundred and fifty acres today under the ownership of the third generation of the Heysen family.

Heysen, indeed, was a dedicated conservationist and all his life remained a staunch protector of the gums of the district often paying quite substantial sums of money to landowners and council to ensure that the gums were not cut down for timber.

Subjects on his own property

As an artist he used his own property extensively for subject matter and many of his favourite trees were indeed located on The Cedars. Four magnificent specimens located on the ridge overlooking the village of Hahndorf were his particular favourites, his 'models' as he called them and he was to immortalise them in man a famous landscape.

Heysen used quite a measure of artistic license in order to achieve a satisfactory arrangement of balance and scale so the particular scene captured on canvas or paper did not always echo exactly the landscape spread out in front of him.

He would often reposition certain gum trees into other partnerships or localities, meander a road between or introduce grazing stock or a figure engaged in some form of rural activity. It must be emphasised that the aim of this exercise is not to reproduce faithfully the artist’s pictures in a perfect visual partnership with the scene as viewed from each locality. This is no longer possible.

Nature ensures that it is an ever changing scene and the ongoing regeneration of the bush serves to provide continually changing landscape. Besides, it must be remembered that many of the paintings were completed up to eighty years ago.

Love of Nature

Rather, the aim is to convey to the viewer, both visually and spiritually, the beauty of this landscape which the artist so passionately loved and which he so diligently utilised for his subject matter. The overriding motivation for all of Heysen’s work was his intense love for nature.

"I am only trying to paint as truthfully as I can and that which my eyes see and perhaps what I unconsciously feel. Truth to nature after all is the goal but truth interpreted through temperament – it all seems to become more precious and beautiful the older one grows - and more wonderful.
We are given all these marvellous gifts and yet what proportion of mankind really understands and appreciates that which we can have for nothing." Hans Heysen

Colin Thiele says:

As Colin Thiele so succinctly and accurately states in his biography 'Heysen of Hahndorf'

"Hans Heysen was one of the great landscape painters of Australia. His superb draughtsmanship, his wonderful control of medium – especially watercolour and charcoal - his handling of light, his power of composition and his intense awareness of natural form and texture, combined to make him unique among the representational painter of this country. Nobody in Australia had studied the gum tree as he had, or analysed its singular character – the play of light and shadow along its bole, the tatters of loose bark hung to the wind, the stropping of mottles sunlight on leaves and limbs. That distinctive Heysen vision led whole generations of Australians to see the gums anew. Above all Heysen loved the natural world as he loved life itself."

Again and again in his letters to his closest friend, Lionel Lindsay, he revealed an almost pantheistic reverence for nature, an intensely sensitive response to its finest nuances of form and colour. His, indeed, was one of the longest and most distinguished careers in the history of Australian art.

Out of a long and unforgettable life it reflected as strongly as ever the essence of his personal creed: "Nature is inexhaustible. Life is wonderful".

With acknowledgements to: Colin Thiele, Sir Lionel Lindsay, Ian North, Alison Carrol, Julie Robinson.

Born in Germany in 1877, Hans Heysen emigrated to Adelaide, South Australia with his family at the age of seven. After four years studying in Europe, Heysen embarked on one of the most successful careers in Australian art, becoming synonymous with the Adelaide Hills town of Hahndorf, where he worked and lived.

The Art Gallery of South Australia holds the largest and most representative collection of works by Hans Heysen, including more than two thousand drawings, oils and watercolours bequeathed by the artist himself. Included in the exhibition are many of Heysen's greatest oil and watercolour paintings, alongside rarely-seen preliminary sketches and studies.

Testament to Heysen's national standing, the Gallery has borrowed masterpieces from every major collection in the country as well as from many regional and private collections, to tell the story of Heysen's art. In addition to his iconic 'gum tree' paintings, the exhibition takes a fresh look at Heysen's lesser-known themes. Hans Heysen traces the artist's development from early student days painting in Europe from 1899-1903, including images of Paris and Venice, to the revelation of barren landscapes and ancient mountain forms in the Flinders Ranges from 1926.

Accommodation Packages

Accommodation and Day Walk packages

Adventures Beyond can put together a range of touring options for you.  Options include camping, shared accommodation, hotels or private retreats.  Please contact us for more information.

About Hike the Heysen

Hike the Heysen is operated by Luke Talbot-Male and a part of the Adventures Beyond group of businesses.

Established in 2001, Adventures Beyond operates Learn to Surf South Australia - a surf school at Middleton Beach on the Fleurieu Peninsula South Australia, Kangaroo Island Wildlife Adventures, Beyond the Boardroom - corporate team building and activites in South Australia and its most recent inclusion Adelaide Urban Adventures.

Hike the Heysen was introduced to the market in 2009 and is the first walking tour of its kind in South Australia. Hike the Heysen is a professional business that is dedicated to a fun and safe walking experience.

Supporting Businesses

Adventures Beyond

Kangaroo Island Wildlife Adventures

Beyond the Boardroom

Corporate team Building and Activities

Heading Bush Adventures

Adelaide to Alice Springs and Ayers Rock

Learn to Surf South Australia

Surf & Sun Licensed Surf School

Anchorage Hotel

Accommodation in Victor Harbor


South Australian Tourism Commission

hiking, walking, wildlife, tours, Heysen Trail, Adelaide, Waitpinga Beach, Victor Harbor, coastal walks, bush walking, adelaide, south australia, walking tours, victor harbour, fleurieu peninsula

  • Search Terms
  • © Hike the Heysen 2013. All rights reserved.