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Published: December 4th 2013
Where do we even begin to describe the amazing things we have seen in the Flinders Ranges region? Hopefully some of the pictures will do the talking, this was by far the hardest choice to narrow down photos for the blog in such a long time (and yes, there are still too many in this one as usual!!!).
The abundance of wildlife was staggering, from lizards, emus, roos & euros, birds, more lizards, & yes even a bloody FLY has made the headlines this time. Speaking of flies – we have not taken our fly nets off the entire trip thus far, except for changing into a motorbike helmet, hat or at night – they are shocking! If someone offered us $1000 for our fly nets, we would tell them to bugger off, they are worth their weight in pink diamonds!
Our journey began in the little town of Quorn, not far from Port Augusta, where we boarded the Pichi Richi historic railway for a journey from Quorn to Woolshed Flat for smoko. The whole trip took a couple of hours, through some really scenic countryside, over old steel bridges & through tight railway cuttings. Well worth doing! Followed
up by a pub lunch in Quorn we continued north on our way up the Flinders, staying overnight in a picturesque spot called “Willow Waters” near Hawker. Here, a little clap of thunder & some lightning sparked overhead, but we didn’t let that ruin the absolute peace of the place, it was beautiful.
The next day we arrived in the Aboriginal Community of Iga Warta (meaning Native Orange Tree), where we stayed for 3 nights and explored the rugged northern section of the Flinders Ranges around Arkaroola. Arkaroola is a historic copper-mining camp, now turned outback resort, where we did some awesome walks & tours on “Daz”. Our main reason for visiting was to check out the Paralana Hotsprings as noted on our map – until we found out they are hot from Uranium & deadly Radon gas bubbling up from underground – anyone for a soak?? We gave it a wide-berth. We did however, have one tyre blow-out, not too bad for the roads we were on every day! With sore bums from doing about 200km per day on rough outback roads, we reluctantly packed up from the Iga Warta camp & headed back to the town of
Copley for the night, supporting the locals as only we can by enjoying a meal & bevvies at the Copley Pub. Here Tab befriended the pub-cat (has no name) who followed her into the loo everytime she went, cute!
With a home-made pastie (the caravan park has a bakery – you rippa!) we headed on our way south, fuelling up in the mining town of Leigh Creek. Also a brief drive through the ghost town of Beltana, back to the highway passing a sign for the iconic Prairie Hotel. At this time Boris declared it was beer-oclock, so we stopped in for some eats & a Coopers. It was awesome, the best road-kill we’ve tasted in ages! With only 12km to Parachilna Gorge campsite we decided to pull up for the night, enjoying a peaceful early morning walk through the gorge the next morning.
Following the dirt road east, we hit the small town of Blinman, another old mining town, where we partook in some more road-kill in the form of emu pie – delish! Then we made our way south via the winding (yet now tar) road to Rawnsley Park Station, one of the only places we
were able to legally stay within the Ranges with our rangas.
It was here, Tab started to feel quite crook, having been a little unwell the past few days, so unfortunately we had to pack up early & head back into Port Augusta so she could visit the Doc & get some tests done. Well, we ended up back in the Port for almost two weeks, but thankfully the tests all came back normal, & Tab had started to improve after a bit of R & R. We enjoyed the sights of the Port all over again, taking longs walks on the jetty, a bit of fishing, and partaking in the odd Coopers of course!
After departing again, we retraced our steps to Quorn, where we took a scenic route instead of sticking the road travelled, enjoying the sights of Warren Gorge, where we were struck by a huge thunderstorm that rattled around for hours, lightning everywhere, Boris’s windows were shaking! Poor scaredy-cat Bailey spent the whole afternoon in his cat-cave hiding – he HATES thunder. Oscar didn’t give a toss, just slept on like nothing was going on – how can they be so very different?! We
also came across a lovely little flowing creek with crystal pools, where we collected water for a hot shower…if you have never showered in fresh spring water we highly recommend giving it a try – bliss!
On further north we stopped at so many historic ruins circa 1850’s, cemeterys & waterholes that we had missed on the way down.
Unfortunately there was always going to be quite a bit of re-tracing as we didn’t really get to see much of the Flinders on our short stop last time, so we decided to go back up to Blinman and pretty-much do the whole trip south again – and it did help our motivation that it was almost lunch time on a Sunday and a counter meal at Blinman Hotel was calling! That essential task over, we stopped off at The Great Wall of China rock formation, and on into Koolamon Campsite for some gorges & scenic drives. Boris even got his 4WD look going with a (misguided) journey into Bunyeroo Gorge, where we got a bit too ambitious & had to reverse down a hill about 1km long after working out we weren’t going to make it! Ooops, sorry
The next night we camped at Trezona Campsite, then back to our favourite spot at Rawnsley Park Station – a working sheep station/caravan park/eco villa/restaurant. We even managed to fit in a swim on one of the warmer days, & a fantastic meal at the Woolshed Restaurant while watching the sunset from the best table in the house! We did so many beautiful hikes from our base in Rawnsley, just taking Daz out every day & seeking a new adventure for almost a week.
Sadly, it was time to go (some of the hikes we couldn’t do this time were about 20km one-way, so we’ve had to bucket list them for a time when we visit cat-free – and perhaps travelling a bit lighter!) where we went back to Hawker – yep it was Sunday again & we partook in another pub lunch at the Hawker Hotel. At one stage Tab went back to the bus to get some more money (or is that water?) and ducked for cover as she heard three gunshots right near the bus! Looking out the window for the raving lunatic, she hunkered head-down back to the safety of the bar, where
the owner promptly filled us in on the situation with the “bird-scarers” that keep the water birds out of the town dam!! Only in the country….
After lunch, we got ambitious & hiked up to the Yourambulla Caves where there were some beautiful ochre paintings in various sites under ledges/caves in the rocky hilltop – amazing. There, we turned onto a “NEW ROAD” (our favourite part of the journey) down R.M. Williams Way, heading into Orroroo, then Wilmington & camped in the lovely little town of Melrose again (we stayed here all those years ago on our journey over to the West) and then a lovely little free camp at a spot not far from Yacka called “White Cliffs Reserve”.
Now, our livers are a’quiver with the anticipation of the Clare Valley next – can’t wait to taste some delectable vintages & see what the town has to offer. So here’s cheers!
P.S. Wishing Jeff's dad John a very happy birthday for today!!
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