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Published: June 22nd 2013
Old Wilpena Station
Parks use this old homestead as their offices
Waking up in Clare to a fairly damp morning, despite having lots of suggestions from friends on where we should visit while in Clare, it was only an overnighter to see us on our way toward the Flinders Ranges (South Australia).
The rain decided to pour for a while on our Journey, but I checked the radar and it showed that there was no rain where we were heading at Hawker, hmmm.
Driving through the rain toward Jamestown and listening to The Verve's Bittersweet Symphony, this brings back so many memories for me, especially when I was contracting in London and would drive back to Southampton on a Thursday night, put the roof down and drive along the open road back down the A316 and M3. Ok maybe not quite the open road, as my memory serves me correctly it was bumper to bumper traffic until at least the Bracknell turn off, it usually freed up properly around Basingstoke. Very different to the open road we are on today.
Arriving in Jamestown, it was still raining, we decided to stop at that nice bakery on the way through (where we had lunch with Keith and Jan last week),
Cup of tea and a sandwich on route to the Flinders Ranges
I cannot believe we were here a week ago and it is still raining!
Eventually our journey dried up, but boy it was still a cold wind blowing out there, but realising we still had plenty of time for the afternoon, we decided to drive straight up to Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges. Very little free camping in this area, most locations you drive into have signs saying "no overnight camping". So in a way you are forced into staying in the national park.
Friends of ours had highly recommended spending some time in the Flinders Ranges and to find a base and make sure you drive around the area properly. Not a problem, we were happy to book into the caravan park at Wilpena Pound where we could of course get power and a hot shower.
When we parked it was not raining, but as soon as we jumped out of the truck, the heavens opened (again!) so we ran for shelter inside the information centre. Andy was not up to making any decisions, we were both cold and tired and could not decide on what the plan was for the coming week. Really, the
rain was doing nothing for our enthusiasm.
So we purchased our $10 entry permit, which entitles us to drive freely around the National Park, it was just the camping side of things that we could not decide on, so we booked a powered site for the night at $33, at least we could have power and having power meant that we could also have a heater. I am not grumbling about the cold, but we don't have to be a martyr to this and if the opportunity is there then we are taking it.
I don't know when the busy period is for the Flinders, but there is a concentrated number of campers around including a few people in tents, I feel a bit sorry for them but I am sure they know what they are getting into.
We set up and took a drive out to the old Wilpena Station, the administration offices for the National Park are based there, but you can still go and have a look around. We took a good walk around the property, the homestead itself was nice but there were houses on the property for the book keeper and the
The Flinders Ranges
Quite road, on route to the Flinders Ranges
blacksmith which were both quite tiny in comparison.
The clouds were rolling in again and no sooner than we got back to the truck the heavens opened again, there was only one thing to do and that was to head to the Poddy Dodgers for a drink.
The Poddy Dodgers is a bar/bistro and looked very welcoming from beyond the gloom of the outdoors, we headed in and grabbed a beer and a Semi Sauvignon Blanc, oh and a bowl of chips (fries). Just a small treat as I am sure it is 3 weeks since we had chips (I would live on chips if I could).
Then we retired to Gypsy and had a small bowl of soup for tea and by now the rust was setting in as the rain started to pour again.
Once in bed I cannot remember if I heard any rain all night, but I certainly slept well (it must have been the chips).
Oh what to do today? Decisions decisions! Do we move or do we stay put? I made some suggestions to Andy, but it seems that he cannot quite get his head round it, the cold
Just like "Jacks Place"
When we first rocked up at our favourite farm Woodstock, all their dogs lived in places like these.
weather and the rain has finally dampened his spirit.
So, we headed back to the information centre, topped up with diesel at $1.79, grabbed a skinny flat white (because some of the best decisions are made over a coffee!)
Soon we had a plan, and booked another night with a powered site, well like I said we are not going to be martyrs, we are having fun and if that means another night with the heater then so be it. Especially as we should have been doing the Simpson Desert with some friends, who phoned to let us know that it was 20 degrees in Birdsville, "thanks guys!"
We will hopefully be experiencing some of that soon.
With lunch packed for the day we headed out of Wilpena to go exploring, the wind was cold but we were wrapped up warm as we drove up to Bunyeroo Valley, the road was open to 4wd only.
We meandered through the forged track and eventually came across Yanyanna Hut, we jumped out of the truck, cameras in hand, sporting woolly hats and gloves as the wind up here was biting.
Yanyanna Hut, built in the 1850's
We would so love a Kelpie
How could we warrant giving a working dog a home.
for Arunna Pastoral, is used overnight by hikers on the Heysen Trail, it was clean and warm on the inside, alright perhaps not warm, but it was shelter from the wind which means warm at the current temperature.
Driving on through Bunyeroo Gorge, we saw the landscape change immensely, although hard to describe how, one minute we were fairly open, with sparse trees and the next minute surrounded by rock formations and very differing shades of green from the lichen to the green on the trees.
Despite the dull, cold and very rainy day, the lack of enthusiasm at the beginning of the day gave way to excitement as we were gradually witnessing this change in scenery and relishing the thought of how lucky we were to see this in the rain which had only seemed to enhance the colours of green and the beautiful deep reds of the rock and the soil. Our blue day had turned green.
Stopping nearly every one hundred metres to take a picture, I sensed it would be a long day. Then we turned into Brachina Gorge, every hill crest climbed there was a wow moment at the top. I had
The Cattle Corral at Yanyanna hut
hoped to see the Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby, but alas we think the rain has them sheltering somewhere.
We stopped for lunch at one of the campsites, maybe Brachina East, where we followed the track for 4wd only that took us right through a dry river bed to the opposite bank, it was still raining, but no matter we had our lunch and Andy made us a chai latte to go. and we headed back over the river and picked up the main track again, although I am pretty sure that most of what we are driving through in the Gorge, is a dry river bed anyway. I wonder when it was last full with water and hope it is not going to be today.
Still no wallabies in site, but a few other 4wd's doing the same as us, we still have those wow moments around every corner.
Eventually we turn around to head back to camp, but we do take a slightly different route back through Slippery Dip (yes it was!), passing Emma Smith's grave on the way.
Who is Emma Smith? I can hear you asking as we did the same, so we
This great little hut, built in the 1850's for Aroona Pastoral, it site on the Heysan Trail and can be used by walkers and the likes for shelter and an over night stop
stopped only to find that it was the grave for a 2 year old girl who died in the early 1860's whilst on the journey (with her parents I assume) to transport copper from Blinman to Port Augusta. We noticed that some people had left some small toys at the grave sight, so we did the same.
A few years ago when we were camping at the Warrumbungle National Park, Andy found a small toy in the remnants of a fire, a small dumper truck and for some reason kept it, but found it fitting to leave it with Emma Smith. There was no mention of how she died, but lets face it the facilities and conditions back in the 1800's to what we have now are very different. I wondered what Emma's life would have been like if she had survived and feel sorry that she seems to be alone in this wilderness, except perhaps she is not so alone with the travellers that come through here.
In the far distance we could see black clouds, I figured they were probably over Wilpena and we were going to drive straight back into them, sure enough we did.
Inside Yanyanna Hut
What a great little hut
I put both our towels in the tumble dryer, and then I went and had a shower, again a nice hot steamy shower, well worth the money that we have paid for this site. Not mentioning any names!
We are sitting inside Gypsy, I am savouring a glass of red, the rain drops are hitting the roof again, I wonder how this may bode for our journey tomorrow as we intended on driving up to Arkaroola, today the road was open, but the rain could make all the difference.
Goodnight! Sweet Dreams.
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