Published: March 19th 2012March 19th 2012
We saw signs like this all over SA
There are two types of B&B’s in Australia and NZ, those like in the US where the host is on site and prepares a breakfast for all the guests. Where we stayed in Christchurch and in Apollo Bay were of that type. The other is called “self catering” where the proprietor provides the raw food and the guests cook their own breakfast in the kitchen area of their suite. The Buxton Manor in Adelaide was the first self catering B&B of the trip. The fridge contained everything we needed, streaky bacon, eggs, tomatoes, juice, fruit and croissants so we were able to mix and match and make a mostly American breakfast of scrambled eggs, juice and coffee. A quick word about streaky bacon; mostly what we’ve seen here has been more like Canadian bacon with a big piece of the back fat still attached and smoked much more than anything we get in the US. Today we just sliced off most of the fat and browned the rest a bit before adding the eggs. Still everything made for a nice breakfast at our own pace so we got going about 10am.
Generally we’re going north and a bit east out
of Adelaide to a place called Wilpena Pound National Park in the Flinders Ranges, a bit over 400k total. The first couple hours were driving on A roads in the more or less developed areas north of Adelaide. By early afternoon we had reached the town of Quorn which is starting to get into the Outback. Coming out of Adelaide we were driving through mostly developed areas which then turned into farm country. By the time we got to Quorn the farms had given way to stations for grazing cattle or sheep or just unused scrublands. It wasn’t quite desert as there were gum and other trees along the stream beds, but there wasn’t much running water. With surprising regularity we would see a sign “Floodway” where a streambed crossed the road, much like the western US, instead of building a bridge they just trust the public not to drive through a flood. They provide a little more information; each Floodway also included a gauge for the water level. The floods must get pretty serious as these were all 2 meters (over 6ft) tall and marked in 0.2 meter increments. Although we saw lots of floodways, what we didn’t see
was other cars. We saw maybe 2 cars going the same direction all afternoon and only one every five minutes or so going the other way. It wasn’t like that because the road was twisty; one stretch between Quorn and Hawker must have been 5k without a turn, rise or dip. In fact, there was a sign referring to the airport and for a while we wondered if they just had the road do double duty, but fortunately in a bit we passed the actual airport, although the road would have made a better runway. Quorn was an “old looking western town” with a sign stating that many movies had been filmed there, including “Gallipolis”. After Quorn the next town was Hawker and it made Quorn seem like Sydney, we saw lots of buildings (including the Hawker Hotel/Motel trying to cover all bases) a few parked cars and at most one person. Another thing we noticed on our drive was a number of dead kangaroos on the side of the road. Kangaroos are the same hazard in Australia as the deer are in the States, evidenced by the large number of kangaroo crossing signs along the road. However, we pressed
From 15k away
on and arrived at the Wilpena Pound Resort about 4:30pm.
After we checked in we walked back to the lodge building for dinner and there were a couple kangaroos on the lawn just like the picture on the resort’s website. What the website didn’t show were the two or three large black crows just waiting for you to take your eye off your meal so they could make it their own. Anyway, we had a pleasant alfresco dinner and chatted a bit with some other guests. Then back to the room to write a couple of these blogs and off to bed. However, on our way back to the room we stopped for a look at the night sky. It was a pretty clear night and there isn’t too much light pollution, so we were able to get a good look at the Milky Way, Southern Cross and the other constellations not visible from the Northern Hemisphere. What you can see in a dark sky is impressive, and then you realize that everything you see is just part of one very ordinary galaxy and there are billions of galaxies.
The Resort offers a number of guided expeditions and
guided hikes into the outback, but the next morning we decided to venture off on our own to an early 20th
Century homestead about 3.3k from the lodge. Before describing our hike, let me tell a bit about Wilpena Pound. It is an oval shaped ring of hills about 20k by 8k by 1,000 meters high. The interior of the Pound is a bowl with only one gap in the hills. The Resort sits near the gap on the eastern side of the Pound. So being the hikers that we are, we went walkabout. The path was very well laid out and pretty easy and we got to the homestead in a bit over an hour. A good deal of the way the path follows Wilpena Creek, the creek that flows out of the Pound. It actually had a bit of water in it, but we could see evidence of previous floods. We could also see evidence of a fire at some point in the past. Later that night we ask when the fire had been and were expecting to be told last year or the year before. We were told it was six weeks ago! That soon, and the
forest is starting to recover. At the homestead we learned the history of the Hills family who attempted to first ranch and then farm the area in late 19th
and early 20th
century, roughly from 1880 to 1920. They would have a few good years, then drought, rains or other events would set them back. Finally, the family gave up in the mid-20s. We got back to the Lodge with time to relax by the pool and then enjoy another nice dinner.
That evening, we had signed up for a guided 4WD trip to watch the sunset from a hill about 15k east of the Pound. We left about 7pm with our guide Terry, a couple from Sydney, and a new staff member of the Resort on her orientation. Terry could have been a character from Crocodile Dundee, he’d left his city job a few years before to work at the Resort and now lead trips as well as other tasks. He spoke with a thick Australian accent which is usually pretty easy to understand, but with Terry it took a lot of concentration. On the way to the hilltop, we saw several small groups (mobs) of kangaroos in
the fields on either side of the road, and one of the Sydneysider’s said she saw an emu, although none of the rest of us did. We got to the top of the hill at dusk and found a couple small euro kangaroos in the grass just a few meters from us. After a few pictures, we each ignored the other species while Terry told us about the geography and history of the area. Unfortunately, we didn’t get much of the sunset as a big lightning storm was blowing in from the west. What we did get was quite a light show. We also got some wine and snacks including three things we’d not had before, smoked kangaroo, emu pate’ and sparkling Shiraz. All were good (or at least different) although the kangaroo benefited from the tomato chutney. More on the sparkling Shiraz in tomorrow’s post. Unfortunately, with the approaching storm, the sky was completely overcast; otherwise Pat might still be out there staring up at the sky. After it was fully dark we headed back to the lodge.
If you’ve been paying attention, you will realize that we are driving west back to the Resort while the storm
is moving east over the Pound. By the time we got back it was pouring rain, but Terry dropped us off close to our room and we were able to dash in for the night. We’d considered doing another walk in the morning, but since we knew we had another long drive to the Barossa we decided to get going after breakfast.
There are more photos below