Dazzling Dramatic Gammon Ranges

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

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Flag of Australia  , South Australia,
Monday, April 9, 2012

Waking to another glorious autumn morning we looked out over the stunning Chace Range as we prepared for our camping expedition into the North Flinders Ranges. With the van safely tucked away in storage at Rawnsley Park Station we headed north.

It was an interesting, scenic and diverse drive along well maintained gravel roads.  We were once again in awe of our surroundings.  In and out of creek crossings we found ourselves winding our way through ranges, over hills, past rugged gorges and rocky outcrops.

Having heard that Chambers Gorge was worth the detour we took the side track and were rewarded with an awesome drive which had us up, down and along stony creek beds past massive river red gums.  We had truly traversed all landscapes today and were even more in awe of this incredible part of Australia.

We left our vehicle at the end of the track and donned walking shoes along with the very attractive fly nets which were imperative if we were going to leave the confines of the car and do any outside activity for the bush flies were relentless in their pursuit.  The track led us along a narrow ledge on the edge of the mostly dry creek before guiding us down along the creek bed to follow the steep gorge walls where we could admire some aboriginal art.  We walked back out of the gorge along the wide creek bed amazed that there were still pockets of water gently flowing, the water crystal clear.  The creek beds were lined with coloured pebbles and stone along with areas of slate.  It was just stunning.  Then to top off our great little detour, as we drove back out across the station cattle were being mustered into the stockyards by ringers on their motorbikes. 

Continuing on we crossed a  flood plain before winding our way through Wearing Gorge and out to a flat vast opening of land, the ground cover low growing and a shiny vivid green.  The mountains in the back ground showed hues of blue and purple from the angle of the sun, it was simply stunning and a stark contrast to the reds and oranges of the gorges.

We arrived at the Vulkathunha - Gammon National Park as the day was starting to fade and headed into the Weetootla Gorge camping area.  Again it was a pretty drive in along a narrow track that appeared to be for the most part the dry bed of the Balcanoona Creek.  The soil changed colours and textures throughout from a deep rich red to a soft sandy beige. 

There was only one other family set up when we arrived at the campground and seeing a nice big open area with a table and fire pit across the other side with a backdrop of a steep gorge wall radiating tones of orange and red we couldn't resist.   A steady stream of 4WD’s rolled in as we were setting up camp, we were so lucky to have arrived when we did and claimed this delightful site. 

As we sat atop our table absorbing the sight of this majestic gorge wall as it was absorbing the remaining rays of sunlight we sipped on a sundowner, breathed in the fresh air and sighed at just how lucky we were to be in this remote little haven.  As the sun eased its way down behind the range, the moon, a night from its full bloom, lit up the camp ground and yet I still managed to trip over a tent rope and do myself an injury… clutz!

The following morning Rod cooked up a lovely camp breakfast before we headed over to the park headquarters at Balcanoona.  Here we were able to enjoy a nice hot shower in their new facilities.  A nice corrugated iron structure with cement floors and exposed pipes with a big shower head, it was brilliant.  (We know… however we can’t help but get excited about these things when we are expecting to really rough it!)

Feeling refreshed we ventured over to the office and we had a chat to one of the rangers, a delight to talk to he suggested a drive for us and so off we set, though his directions were rather vague.

The drive out to Grindells Hut was stunning, a rough and rugged 4WD track that had us driving across some wet but mostly dry creek beds, up and down hills around bends, all the time surrounded by the most spectacular and ever changing landscape.

From Grindells Hut we joined the Wortupa Loop Track which followed the outer side of the Illinawortina Pound.  This was a magic drive which just had us in awe of both the scenery and the drive itself.  The distance we drove along some of the creek beds was staggering, their stony base providing a solid base along which to drive.  These creek beds were lined with the most majestic river red gums that had us captivated by their sheer size and gorgeous limbs.

We branched out from the loop at the northern end and continued over to the Idninha Ruins and whilst the ruins were nothing too exciting the drive most definitely was.  Once again we were traversing some amazing countryside and the track climbed to the top of a ridge which gave us the most spectacular 360 degree views of the surrounding area.

From here we continued to the park boundary where the road led onto a private station.  The gate was tightly secured and a sign had fallen down stating visitors were no longer welcome, though we are sure that is the way the ranger had directed us to go. We turned back and wound our way back up and across the top of the ridge and back down the other side.  We rejoined the loop and were blown away by the driving experience as well as the scenery.

Wedge-tailed eagles had us in awe as they glided through the sky, their massive wing spans glistening in early afternoon sun.  We watched as two little birds continually attacked one, no match for the massive eagle but relentless none the same.

This track had us driving up and down some very steep inclines and declines, through rough creek beds across rocks and pebbles and over solid hard rock surfaces.  Up down all around, corrugated, shaken, twisted and distorted it was all fantastic, the driving experience topped with spectacular scenery had us elated.

Having thoroughly enjoyed the experience (if you could not already tell!), we continued up to Arkaroola, a wilderness sanctuary on the outskirts of the national park.  Again this drive was spectacular as was the scenery as we drove into Arkaroola.  Surrounded by massive walls of red rock the sun was starting to make its way down and the light reflected off the rugged rock faces giving them a brilliant glow.  After taking a look around we eagerly jumped back in the Navara to drive back to Weetootla glad that we had chosen to camp there rather than at Arkaroola which was so busy.

We wound our way back into camp along the winding road through and along Balcanoona Creek, back to our cute little camp.  We could not have found a prettier backdrop, it was just lovely to return to.

Rod lit a magnificent fire and it was so relaxing to sit beside it with a glass of red, the full moon rising high into the sky providing us with another stunning evening.  We sat and watched the blonde tongues of fire licking the night sky, the coals glowing red at the core, oh how glad we are that we extended our travels!

It was cold during the night and we awoke to a crisp morning.  Having packed up camp we took a walk along the Weetootla Gorge in search of the shy yellow footed rock wallaby.  The track was overgrown and hard to walk along so we made our way across to the creek and followed its path along.  We walked for about an hour and a half scanning the gorge walls for the wallabies, finally spotting some high in the rocks above, we were now content.  Our mission accomplished we started our journey back to Rawnsley Park Station.

The drive back was once again stunning and coming from the opposite direction gave another perspective of the scenery.  We were again amazed at the number of emus and delighted in watching the family unit and their reaction to us.

We stopped in Blinman for lunch glad to be back on the bitumen after the shake rattle and roll of our last couple of days.  The town was buzzing and we were lucky to get a seat out on the verandah of the general store where we could sit in the sunshine watching all the activity as 4WD’s towing camper trailers set off in every direction.

Having arrived back at Rawnsley Park Station in the late afternoon we spent one last night there.  We enjoyed stepping outside in the morning and watching the sheep meander by.  We took one last walk, a steep but short track up to Alison Saddle.  Despite the wind, the steep climb rewarded us with fabulous views over the ranges and station.

We drove away from the Flinders Ranges having thoroughly enjoyed our time there and ever so glad that we had taken the time to head further north to the Gammon Ranges for they were simply magic.  How are we ever going to beat this…?

Highlights of the Gammon Ranges:

-          Chambers Gorge

-          Camping at Weetootla

-          Grindells Hut area

-          Wortupa Loop Track

-          Ridge top drives

-          Awe inspiring scenery

-          Delightful wildlife
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