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Published: April 5th 2010
Flinders Ranges National Park
After a refresh and re-fuel at Port Augusta, I started to make my way back up into the South Australian Outback. It was a really hot day today, with a hot wind to boot, so the drive was exhausting and sweaty. I stopped at Hawker for a break before coming into Wilpena Pound and my campsite for the night. Driving into the Flinders Ranges is beautiful and the Ranges look impressive in the late afternoon sunlight. When I was turning into Wilpena Pound I saw all these vans and trailers and straight away wondered if they were making a movie. Sure enough (as the receptionist told me when I was checking in) they are indeed filming for a new Australian movie to be called 'Swerve'. Sounds interesting!
The campground at Wilpena Pound is big and welcoming. The massive River Red Gums in the dry river banks are commanding and set the scene (see now I have movie lingo in my head) for the Flinders Ranges. Not many people in the campground meant more room for me and I made myself at home. Still muggy and hot, I had a cold shower and tired in vain
to cool down. There is a pool up at the resort that you are allow to use but it's right by the bar and not really my idea of a relaxing swim. The heat can really knock you around and it tires you out terribly. Fighting the urge to want to have a nanna nap, I busied myself till it was time to cook dinner.
There are western grey kangaroos all over the campground, some big boys too. They don't seem to bother you and I respect their space and try not to get too close. This was until one particularly friendly little guy decided that he would like to join me for dinner. Dinner for two anyone? At first he was just hanging around my van, then he came alittle closer, and alittle closer, until he was at my table getting ever so closer to the prize. The prize being a whole pile of vegies I was cutting up for my vegie stirfry. Now I don't know much about 'roo etiquette', but waving my hands around and making strange noises was not having the least bit of effect on this guy. He wanted my food and was going
He was a BIG boy!!!
Wilpena Pound Camp grounds,
Flinders Ranges National Park
to find a way of getting it! He was being really pushy and I started to have to physically push him away. Yes, that's right, I was forced to push a kangaroo and yes I feel awful about it. Pushing didn't seem to work much either, even a gentle smack across the head wasn't having much of an effect on him and in one swift movement he had my capsicum and was trying to figure out how to get it out of the weird looking glad wrap. I eventually had to fight him off with a chair. Honestly, it was quite alittle scuffle. I did feel bad about smacking a kangaroo but after talking with the ranger the next day he said that that is what you have to do! How un-Australian of me, smacking a kangaroo, well I guess I'm not eating him so it evens out! While cooking up my dinner (after the roo attack) a strange red/ orange glow came over the sky and it looked like a fire was just over the hill. It was so bizarre looking I had no idea what it was. It turned out to be a massive dust storm. How interesting.
River Red Gums
Wilpena Pound Campground
Flinders Ranges National Park
The next morning bright and early I decided it was time to use my legs and hike up a mountain. I was after all in the Flinders Ranges and the weather was pleasantly cool but did look like rain. You have to sign yourself in and out of the hikes and I made sure I registered at the start of the hike, just so someone would actually know if I didn't return! There are numerous hikes you can do, some rated easy, to moderate, to hard. Me being me decided that if I was going to hike I might as well make it a good one so I took the hard option and decided to visit the summit of Mt Ohlssen Bagge, a 4 hour return hike, roughly 6 and a half km in total. I read that it had excellent views of Wilpena Pound and diverse reptile life with a high chance of seeing some. Now the views yes were appealing but the diverse reptile life, I was hoping not! I can handle some lizards but snakes, no thank you! But being a cooler wet day I figured my changes of seeing any snakes was pretty low. So
off I set on my 'hard' hike.
The start of the hike takes you along the river bed with the commanding river red gums lining it's dry and dusty banks. These trees are the most beautiful trees you will ever see and it's a pleasant start to the hike. And then the uphill begins and it doesn't let up, and that's where I was going... up! Well I wanted a good hike after all and I was going to get one. The trail takes you up along the eastern ridge of Wilpena Pound, starting on a steady rock track but becomes more like a rock scramble by the end. I was bearly started when a group of 3 backpackers overtook me, and this was on the not so steep bit! Well the Aries within me kicked in and I was damned if I was going to have a group of swiss mountain goat backpackers overtaking me! They were part of a group of 'OZ Experience' backpackers making the climb up to Mt Ohlssen Bagge as well. So fit looking and not a day over 20, I was not going to let them make me look like some old has
Dinner for two?
Wilpena Pound Campground
Flinders Ranges NP
been. So me being me killed myself (quite literally I assure you) to make sure no more of the group over took me and I kept pace with the 3 gold medallists ahead of me. Bloody 20 year olds, I was going to have a heart attack with the pace that they were setting and they were just happily chatting away. But at last we came to the top and once my breathing settled down and my eyes regained focus I was able to admire the stunning views of Wilpena Pound and the surrounding countryside. It was really cold at the summit and with the sweat dripping from me the chills set in. And then it started to rain. But it was worth it. The going down was actually trickier than the going up with not only rain to contend with but really slippery rocks, but I found a good use for my arse!
Back down to the river bed I signed myself off the hike (can't forget to do that now, don't want a search party going looking for me) and had a quick shower to wash the sweat away before I headed off. The rain was really
setting in now and I had to laugh to myself, as South Australia is known as the driest state all I seemed to get when I went into the outback was rain! I was told at the Information Centre that half of the Park is closed at the moment due to a feral pest control plan being undertaken. It is only running for a few days but those few days just happen to be today and tomorrow! The Information Centre lady was very carefully to highlight in pink on my map where I was allowed to go and warned me that if I went in the 'no go' zone (she marked on my map with big green crosses) I would get shot by the ranges. Ok so I know I look abit rough lately, maybe alittle feral, but surely a ranger would be able to tell me and a feral fox or cat apart! Surely!!! Looking at myself in my rear view mirror I guessed maybe not and so I stuck to the pink highlighted roads to be safe.
The road winds through the bleak tree-less countryside with the rain getting harder and harder. I had to drive really
slow as there were heaps of kangaroos on the road. Maybe they were coming to get pay back for me smacking their friend. I stopped at Stokes Hill Lookout and the ruins at Appealinna but it was so miserable now that getting in and out of the van wasn't really a good idea. I planned to stop at Dingley Dell campground just up the road to stay the night but when I got there, not a soul was around and although it looked nice enough I was too chicken shit to stay there the night on my own so I continued on. My map told me there was camping at Angorichina Village in Parachilna Gorge so I headed for there. This is just out of Flinders Ranges National Park, directly north. The road turns into dirt but it's not too bad if you just go slow and with the rain I was happy to do just that. The drive is so beautiful through the Gorge and the road winds up and down and through the Gorge like a river. It was getting late and such a miserable day I was getting keen to stop and call it a day (my
body was starting to feel every one of those steps up the mountain from this morning). When I finally reached Angorichina Village I was told they were closed and couldn't take any campers because the toilets were broken and couldn't be fixed in the rain. Are you kidding me!!! So I pressed on. The road eventually exits the Gorges and returns to flat land taking me out to the highway and the town of Parachilna. Unfortunately the campground there too is closed at the moment so at a crossroad it was either north to the town of Copley or back south to Hawker. Copley being closer (but in the entirely opposite direction to where I wanted to go) I turned right and started to make my way further into the South Australia Outback. Now you might ask why? Why am I going to Copley? Well it looked interesting and apparently there is a really good cafe there!
Well it bucketed rain for the 70 odd kilometres to Copley and when I got there it looked like a ghost town. Cold, wet, miserable I found the campground and to my joy it was open. But they too had toilet problems
(at this point I was going to say to the lady, "look I will dig a hole") but with my reassurance that I didn't care if there was mess in the toilet block from them doing renovations and that I would be fine they let me stay. Thank god because I was out of options. And so I spent a cold, wet, lonely night in the town of Copley with a half toilet block to call my own. I couldn't help but laugh at my luck. When I was coming down from the Northern Territory and stayed at Coober Pedy I was unable to head into the SA Outback on the Oonadatta Track due to flooding. And now here I was, again in the SA Outback and unable to go any further due to road closures due to flooding. I don't believe them when they say it's the driest state. The wet weather on this occasion was due to a cyclone up north so it was just bad timing I guess. Oh and that cafe I mentioned earlier, yeah it was closed, not to open until Easter! I don't think it is my destiny to see the South Australia Outback,
View into Wilpena Pound
Mt Ohlssen Bagge Summit
Flinders Ranges NP
not this time anyway.
In the morning the rain was still falling and so I tucked my tail between my legs and headed south, back down the highway towards Port Augusta. Well that was an interesting side trip anyway and I can at least say I made it to Copley even through I saw only rain and grey clouds but it was a good drive and I basically had the road to myself. Can't imagine why!
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