Fabulous Flinders Ranges

Trip Start Apr 05, 2011
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Trip End Nov 15, 2012


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Flag of Australia  , South Australia,
Saturday, April 7, 2012

A funny thing happened on our drive from Broken Hill across to the Flinders Ranges… Caught up in our excitement of being back on the road the state to state quarantine regulations completely slipped our minds and having just restocked our vegetables we groaned as we came across the first of the reminder signs by the side of the Barrier Highway to discard any fruit and vegetables.

Determined not to be wasteful we ummed and ahhed about what we could do and then coming upon a roadside rest area we decided to stop for half an hour and cook up some vegetable soup.  Yes, I cooked up some soup… it wasn't long ago I wondered why anyone would bother making soup when you can get it in a can, how things have changed! When we were stopped for a search at the check point upon opening the van door the aroma wafted through the air and the officer knew we hadn’t joked when we said we had just stopped and cooked it all up!

Along our journey we traversed some gorgeous countryside and towns.  Across open barren plains, through mountain ranges and cute as a button villages steeped in history, it was yet another interesting drive. 

Our time in the Flinders Ranges area was divided into three stages, staying at Wilpena Pound, Rawnsley Park Station and then camping up in the Gammon Ranges.  In this blog we will concentrate on our activities out of the first two. 

Whilst words are hard to find to express the awe inspiring beauty of the Flinders Ranges, we will do our best to bring to life this most picturesque area and hope our chosen adjectives do not become too repetitive.

Having arrived at Wilpena Pound as the light was fading and the kangaroos were out in force we settled into our rustic campsite and enjoyed a bowl of fresh vegetable soup for dinner (so much better than the canned stuff!). 

Our first morning was spent on foot with a lovely walk following the creek bed along into Wilpena Pound to the Hills Homestead before continuing on to the Wangara Lookout.  Taking the steep climb along a sloping ridge over almost luminous red rock, with every step the views were improving and we were getting a better perspective of the area.  From the lookout we could see the walls of the pound and appreciate its past use in which to run sheep. 

Back down at the homestead we took the top road back before returning down along the creek bed.  The river red gums were just amazing, their wide girth of a trunk an indication of the hundreds of years of which they have withstood what nature has dished up, season after season, year after year.

After having some lunch and recovering from the 8km walk we took to the car and ventured out to Sacred Canyon.  This drive was wonderfully scenic.  A well graded gravel road, it wound its way through forest across many a dry creek bed past massive river red gums traversing over hill and down dale before finally coming to a gate, over another dry creek bed and on to the beginning of the walk.  It was a lovely stroll along the dry creek bed, again the massive river red gums dominated the banks.  We came to the most gorgeous of gorges, well maybe not, maybe it’s a canyon as per its name… not sure of the difference except to say that it was spectacular.  From loose pebbles that lined the creek floor to smooth rocks molded over years of running water it held us captivated.  Then in contrast there were the rich deep red rocks that stretched up to the vibrant blue sky, so rich the colour that some were tinged almost to a blood red.  The aboriginal artwork adorned the canyon walls, simplistic and primitive and ever so interesting.  Having scrambled over rocks along the narrow passage we turned and enjoyed the walk out just as much.

Rejoining the main road we drove up to Stokes Hill Lookout which proved to be simply breathtaking.  The road up was an attraction in its own right for it wound its way around and over the top of smooth almost bald hills, delivering us to the highest point.  Here we had uninterrupted 360 degree views of the entire area.  It was one of the most spectacular lookouts we have ever been to in that the view it afforded us was complete and we could see for miles.

A little further back down the track the views from Hucks Lookout again gave us a stunning view across the ranges keeping us in awe of this most stunning of national parks. 

The following day we celebrated twelve months on the road, amazing how fast time passes by when you are having so much fun.  So here we were 365 days, 44,921 kms and 14,000 photos along and we still wake up every morning looking forward to what adventure the day brings.

Heading out along Oraparinna Road we caught sight of the large rock wall (aptly named Great Walls of China) and took the rugged little drive up to the lookout.  We were rewarded for the detour when we noticed a goat posing way up on the edge of the ridge. How cute!

Thrilled, we continued along a delightfully scenic drive up to the town of Blinman.  A lovely town steeped in history of the pioneering folk of this great land, we enjoyed a walk around the town admiring the old stone pub, general store and numerous ruins.

From Blinman we hit the gravel off through Parachilna Gorge to the township of Parachilna.  The drive was simply stunning as it meandered its way along dry creek beds and when we weren’t in them we were crossing them frequently.  There was a little trickle of water in some much to our surprise as the area has looked rather dry.  There were lovely views of the surrounding ranges, great camping spots and of course the massive river red gums which sprinkle the roadside and creek banks.  The girths of some of these are just enormous.

It really was gob smackingly beautiful and we were in danger of suffering scenic overlaod.  Having come through the gorge the ranges became a massive imposing figure in our rearview mirror as we travelled across the plains to the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna.  Here we stopped at the lovely old building which now houses a trendy bar and restaurant.  We sat with the millions of flies out the front and quenched our thirst with a lovely glass of Adelaide Hills Savi B and Rod the local beer watching a long coal train make its way along the tracks and as we gave a big wave the driver reciprocated with a big toot of the horn. 

From here we travelled south and then turned onto the Moralana Scenic Drive.  This traversed big sheep stations and wound its way across dry creek beds which appeared to swell to massive wide torrents when the big rains come.  Again the banks were adorned with massive river red gums which still had us in awe.  There were rich red soils covered in young fur trees and all the time we were engulfed by the massive ranges which surrounded us.

Delighting in this extraordinarily beautiful part of Australia we couldn’t resist heading back up to Stokes Hill Lookout for the sunset.

The next morning we hitched up and moved across to Rawnsley Park Station, a working sheep station which borders the national park and has the most spectacular views back over the Chace Ranges giving us yet another perspective of these majestic ranges which form the Flinders Ranges

Today we were off to Bunyeroo Gorge which was yet again another stunning drive.  We wound our way up and down hills and ranges offering us spectacular views.  Through and along creek beds lined with the most majestic river red gums, all so unique and stunning, their massive trunks all uniquely marked through the passage of time.

Along a ridge top which afforded us the most stunning of views out over lightly treed hills to massive dominant red ranges in the background, we couldn’t resist stopping for lunch to extend our time drinking in the views.  From the ridge top we could see the road ahead twisting and turning through the valley floor below, a glimpse of what was to come. 

Further along at Brachina Gorge we were in search of the endangered and elusive yellow footed rock wallaby.  Thinking finding one would be like a needle in a hay stack and not knowing where to start.  As luck would have it as we drove along the creek bed out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of one. Sitting proudly outside a cave he was more than happy to pose for photographs and be watched looking just as inquisitive about us as we were about him.  They are so cute with distinctive markings and a long stripped tail.  Having enjoyed him to ourselves for an extended amount of time a loud vehicle came past and so he receded back into his cave. 

Further along we stopped for a coffee where there had been large falls of rock and here we found heaps of the gorgeous little fellows.  We watched them hop across the rocks and up and down for some time whilst we sipped on our coffee.  Before long they came down and played in front of us tenderly pulling soft branches of a bush down with their paws and nibbling before hopping up onto rocks to display their stunning markings to their full.

Hard as it was, we eventually dragged ourselves away sure that they had been watching us as much as we were watching them.  The remaining drive around to the boundary of the park was fun as it led further along the wide stone based creek.  As we made our way back through Brachina Gorge a yellow footed rock wallaby crossed in front of us at the creek bed, how lucky are we! 

Having taken another detour to look at some ruins and then a quick stop at Hucks Lookout for phone reception (and of course the stunning outlook) we were sharing the drive back to camp with hundreds of kangaroos so we were glad to get back to the station without incident.  Having thoroughly enjoyed our time at both Wilpena Pound and Rawnsley Park Station it was time to get more in touch with nature heading further north with a tent.

Highlights of the fabulous Flinders:

-          The extraordinary  Wilpena Pound

-          Interesting and varied  walks

-          Stokes and Hucks Hill Lookouts

-          Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby

-          Abundant wildlife – mostly emus and kangaroos

-          Driving through the stunning gorges

-          Sacred Canyon
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Comments

Val S. on

Another good read and thanks for sharing. Who needs to travel when you can do it for us... your story telling is up there with the best, have you two found your calling???

Kully on

I am still gob smacked at the soup making...?!
Well, I never. Lyndal, you continue to push the envelope!
I hope you washed it down with a cheeky SSB?
Take care and keep being fabulous.

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