THURSDAY 6 MAY WILPENA
Slept in somewhat. The early morning was a bit chilly, and the campground was remarkably quiet.
It became a pleasant, warm, blue sky day.
To celebrate being back at Wilpena, we decided to tackle the walk to Bridle Gap, which traverses the floor of the Pound, to the rim that is its western edge. Although Wilpena Pound appears almost like a crater, from the air, it is actually a high valley between two ranges – geosynclines – that were pushed up by earth movements long ago. The southern end of the valley is blocked by another section of range – Rawnsley Bluff, thus creating the crater effect. At the northern end of the Pound, there is just a drop off to the levels below. Because a layer ofvolcanic debris was found between layers of sedimentary rock, it was at one time assumed that Wilpena was a crater. Recently, it has been discovered that the volcanic debris actually comes from the Gawler Ranges, a long way to the west, and was blown here by the force of the explosion when an asteroid or meteorite hit the Gawler Ranges, forming Lake Acraman in the process.
We set out on the walk at 10.30am. It is part of the Heysen Trail, a 1200km long walk trail that starts at the coast south of Adelaide, and ends at the Parachilna Gorge, just north of here.
Walked from the campground to the Pound entrance, following Wilpena Creek through the narrow Wilpena Gap that is the entrance. The only other ways into the Pound are via the walking track down from the flank of St Mary’s Peak, to the north, or through the Bridle Gap, which was supposed to be able to be accessed by a skilled horse rider – hence the name.
It was about 2kms to walk from the campground to the end of the road, where the shuttle bus deposits those who take it. Then the track continues to follow the creek through the gap. It is a really pretty walk. A bit over a km from the road end, there is the Hills Homestead. For a few years from 1899, the Hill family attempted to grow wheat in the Pound. Their home has been restored from near derelict.
The walk across the Pound floor is a fairly easy one, though one must watch their footing in places where there are rocks. Parts were open, with grass amidst small rocks, other parts were through scrub. Every so often there have been bushfires in the Pound, and scrubby regrowth results from that. There was a bit of a climb up to the edge of the rim at Bridle Gap.
We did some bird spotting along the way – white backed swallow, the Port Lincoln Ringneck parrot, and a red capped robin.
By 1.30pm, we were eating our lunch at Bridle Gap, with a superb view out over to the Elder Range.
After lunch and just relaxing high up on our perch, we retraced our way back across the Pound.
On the way back, John developed blisters under the toes on both feet, so he was feeling rather miserable by the time we were back at the Hills Homestead. There were some people at the hut, who were walking back to catch the shuttle bus back to the resort, so we did that too. It cost us $2 each, for the one way trip, but saved the last 2kms of walking on the blisters. It was fortunate that John had taken a little money with him.
We walked about 20.8kms altogether and his hips managed it well. I certainly appreciated the long, warm shower I had. Walking back from the shower, I encountered some people who had been camped near us at Mildura. They are going up St Mary’s Peak tomorrow – it is a big walk and climb. John did it in ’92; I squibbed out of the final bit, due to not liking heights.
John threaded cotton through his blisters to dry them out. I had to help with some he couldn’t reach – yukky! They are certainly big blisters. He needs new walking boots, I think – a bit bigger.
Tea was the last of the vegie soup, creamy paprika chicken and rice, which was nice and easy to make – I was not feeling much like any effort by now!
It was another cold night, once the sun set.
We had a very early night!