This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

1999 Travels May 7

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FRIDAY 7 MAY     WILPENA

We slept late. I was a little stiff when I got up, but it wore off. John’s feet were sore.

After breakfast, I walked to the phone box and phoned U, at Hawker. He remembered me with no problem, even after about thirty years! He seemed pleased to hear from me. We will see them tomorrow.

Packed lunch, refuelled Truck – 81cpl here! Then went driving, which was all we felt up to.

Our first destination was Sacred Canyon, only about 10kms from Wilpena. We hadn’t been here before. Its main interest is aboriginal rock engravings, supposed to be quite old. The drive in was an attractive one – on an unsealed road.

05-07-1999 06 Sacred canyon track.jpg

The track to Sacred Canyon

Along the track we came across a very unusual red gum tree, which was growing in two parts. Somehow a split had developed in the base of the tree and that became quite a large gap between the two parts.

05-07-1999 04 split gum in sacred canyon

The split red gum on the track to Sacred Canyon

The short bit of walking we did there was enjoyable. We were not particularly impressed with the stone engravings. As the surroundings were so pleasant, we ate lunch there.

05-07-1999 05 john in sacred canyon

Walking in Sacred Canyon

05-07-1999 03 aboriginal intaglio rock sacred canyon.jpg

Aboriginal intaglio rock engravings at Sacred Canyon

Back to the main road and then north on the Blinman road to firstly, Hucks Lookout and then, a bit further on, Stokes Hill Lookout. The air here is so clear that the scenery really stands out. The scenery of the Flinders Ranges is all so spectacular that, after a while, only the extra special parts make an impression! One can certainly use up a lot of film here!

05-07-1999 09 Heysen Range with Wilpena entry centre.jpg

The Heysen Range from Hucks Lookout. The tallest peak is St Marys Peak. To the left of the photo , at the lowest part of the Range, is the dark shadow of Wilpena Gap

Another old red gum tree that made a great impression on us was the Cazneaux Tree, not far from Wilpena. It was pictured, in the 1930’s, by the photographer Cazneaux. He wrote about how, for him, it typified the Spirit of Endurance. The photograph became famous and, thus, so did the tree. It is now listed on the National Trust’s Significant Tree Registry. Qantas later used Cazneaux’s tree-inspired words as a slogan on its planes. The old tree has endured much more, since the 1930’s photo, and is now very much showing its age and the effects of drought and fire – but still endures on! With its superb backdrop of the ranges, it really is something special.

05-07-1999 02 another view of cazneux tree

The Cazneaux Tree, with its dramatic range backdrop

05-07-1999 01 cazneux tree spirit of endurance

The Spirit of Endurance – the Cazneaux Tree

From the lookouts, we continued on the Blinman road, past Oraparinna, then turned west and drove to Brachina Gorge . At its eastern end, where we stopped to look about, saw some elegant parrots and a yellow footed rock wallaby.

By now, it was too late to linger in the gorge, so we drove through it, much of the way actually in the dry creek bed, between the gorge walls. Followed the gravel road across the flat plains west of the range, to the Leigh Creek road, then came south on the bitumen to where the unsealed Moralana Scenic Route cuts through, south of Wilpena Pound, and meets the Wilpena road south of Rawnsley Park. And so back to camp.

The sunset over the Elder Range, as we came along the Moralana Route, was magnificent.

05-07-1999 10 sunset over elder range from moralana rd.jpg

Sunset over the Elder Range

It was well and truly dark by the time we got back to the van. We hadn’t really intended for this to turn into such a long day, but one thing led to another. We ended up driving 199kms.

Tea was late: fries with frozen “oven bake” fish – cooked in the electric frypan.

Another cold night; another early to bed, after another tiring but great day.

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