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Published: March 20th 2011
On Buckaringa Scenic Drive
in the southern Flinders Ranges
Monday 14th – a Public Holiday in South Australia to celebrate ‘Labour Day’. We said a rather reluctant farewell to Burra and headed towards the Port Augusta area. Since leaving Adelaide we’ve encountered more and more grasshopper type insects as we drive along and today we drove through several large swarms. Graham was advised some time ago to fix some mesh to the front of PIE to avoid these things accumulating in the engine and this has worked very well. Sadly, apart from catching the grasshoppers, it also captures some splendid looking butterflies but given the numbers we see it’s inevitable. Our intended destination today was a place called Wilmington – not for any other reason than it was a suitable distance along our route towards the Eyre Peninsula and would also put us within touching distance of the Flinders Ranges. We called in at Peterborough for a break and parked next to the Information Centre. It was suitably housed in a splendidly converted railway carriage – suitable in that Peterborough was once the hub of a major railway network which criss-crossed the area many years ago. Up to one hundred trains a day would pass through Peterborough in its heyday.
Bob the Railway Dog
who loved travelling on the trains even on his own!
Its name has an interesting history as it was once called Petersburg - it was largely of German origin and many street names and current family names are German. Ironically, even though many of those inhabitants of German origin enlisted to fight AGAINST Germany in the world wars, there was much local concern about the town’s name and, after a council vote, it was decided to re-name it Peterborough. It was a pleasant place to stop for our break and for anyone interested in railways it would be a fascinating place to visit. It took us some time to ‘get away’ from the very friendly lady in the IC as she was intent on telling us the finer details about her recent trip to Europe and the UK, which we don’t mind of course except when we’d like to ask some questions of our own!
Soon we were back on the road and heading for Wilmington. We made very good time but, on arrival, found Wilmington to be a bit remote and un-interesting. The caravan park had been recommended by a fellow traveller so no doubt it would have been good for an overnight stop. We’re probably doing it
Very apt Information Centre
in the old railway town of Peterborough
a dis-service but since we had time to spare we decided to drive on to Quorn – about another 50 kilometers. Graham has a fondness for Quorn in the UK since it was his main folk-singing outlet while we were staying in Moira. This Quorn was far more workmanlike than the UK one but it was substantially bigger than Wilmington and offered a much better opportunity to investigate The Flinders Ranges. So we booked in for a couple of nights and began to plan our trips out. We had time to explore Quorn later in the day although, as it was the Public Holiday, not a lot was happening. It took very little time to walk around and, again, the somewhat run-down railway station was probably its most interesting feature. The main tourist attraction was the Pichi Richi steam railway and at the height of the holiday season (which hereabouts is June/July) Quorn is a hive of activity. During March the steam trains only run on Sundays so even though it was a public holiday sadly there were no trains running today.
The caravan park was in a lovely rural setting with big sites but because there were only
a few other units in it felt a bit strange. Because it was the ‘quiet season’ the gent’s ablution block was being re-decorated so poor Graham had to walk twice as far to use the disabled unit and hope that no-one else beat him to it. I thought we might get more mossies and other insects in the early evening but surprisingly there didn’t seem to be many about.
Tuesday 15th – and it’s my pal from school days Sue’s, birthday. I’m not sure if Sue gets to read the blogs but just in case – hi Sue and Happy Birthday!
On Tuesday we decided to explore the southern edge of Flinders but we also had a fuel issue in that we had less than half a tank left and diesel prices in the remote towns is astronomical. So we decided to incorporate into our day a visit to Port Augusta to get some much needed supplies and to get some reasonably priced diesel. This meant that our investigation of Flinders was a bit restricted. About 25 kms from Quorn is Warren Gorge so we headed there first. We passed a couple of free camping spots in great
Fine old buildings in Peterborough
but very unusual to see an almost empty street
locations and drove on through the gorge. It was a beautiful, area and we stopped and enjoyed a cup of tea in the peaceful atmosphere. We kept a look out for little ‘yellow footed rock wallabies’ that apparently are fairly common in the gorge but didn’t see any. We stopped again on our way out and I chatted to a couple who looked as though they planned to spend the whole day painting and looking to photograph wildlife. They said they had seen one of the wallabies a few minutes earlier but still we couldn’t spot any. We drove along the gravel Buckaringa Scenic Road to the lookout which gave us at least a glimpse of the southern edge of the Flinders Ranges. Along the way was a large grave stone marking the grave of Hugh Proby, the son of the Earl of Carysfort. He was killed by a stampede of cattle and six years after his death his brothers and sisters had the slab, which weighed about one and half tons, imported from Scotland as a memorial. We made it as far as Hawker and included some fascinating detours to lookouts and historical monuments on the way. One of
the visits was to Simmonston – the town that never was!! It seems that, during the early development of the railway, this area was identified as an ideal place to establish a “stop-over” town. Consequently, a hotel and general store were built in anticipation and housing plots were advertised as being idyllic rural blocks promising a comfortable and healthy living lifestyle. Alas, the railway company decided to route the line elsewhere so no houses were built and neither the hotel nor the store were ever occupied and now they are just ruins.
We had lunch in Hawker, in a little café full of character, and considered the possibility of moving there after Quorn to enable us to see more of the “real” Flinders or perhaps doing a flight over the main attraction which is Wilpena Pound. But today we felt we needed to visit Port Augusta and so made our way there via the Pichi Richi pass which we thought was going to be a steep and windy road. Actually it turned out to be just a bit undulating but the gradual descent gave a nice view looking towards Port Augusta and beyond. After our shopping and re-fuelling exploits
we returned to Quorn via the Horrocks pass which was much hillier, stopping on the way at yet another lookout for a cup of tea. We’d had a great day but decided that to go back up to Hawker would simply be covering old ground so we vowed to move on the next day to the Eyre Peninsula. In hindsight we now regret this decision as we feel we missed out on many scenic opportunities which Sarah and Darryl so vividly photographed and described in their blogs of this area. Perhaps we’ll re-visit another time?
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