TUESDAY 11 MAY WILPENA
We needed to get a reasonably early start. Woke to a sky that was grey and cloudy – and which became more so as the day went on. It was a real pity that we did not have the clear and sunny weather of the past few days, for today.
We drove to Willow Springs, paid, and collected the key about 9.30 am. All the information says that at least six hours must be allowed to do the circuit. They will not issue a key after 10.30am.
The charge for a vehicle to do the Trek is $30 – but we only paid $25, due to “local connections”.
We received a nicely presented folder with information and track notes. The drive is about 80kms; there were 40 points of interest marked on the map. Some of these related to specific vegetation and natural features like springs, some were to do with the station operations, like bores and gates. We had no trouble following the map and finding our way.
Our first stop was at the Willow Springs, through the Gorge, where we looked for birds, admired the scenery – and watched sheep in the distance playing at mountain goats!
We had a sausage and bread BBQ lunch in a dry creek bed past Moxans Hut, which we’d seen the other day. It was built in the late 1800’s and housed the station worker until the 1960’s. He must have liked solitude! John enjoyed doing the fire lighting and BBQ thing. It was all very pleasant, apart from there being lots of flies. We made sure the little cooking fire was put out with some of the water we carry.
We had initially proceeded east from the station homestead, then north, travelling parallel with ranges on each side. Then we reached the northern most point of the Trek and where we were advised that 4WD must be engaged. This is easy on the Defender, as it is just a lever and one does not have to worry about getting out and messing with wheel hubs.
From this point the going was steep in places, very twisty, and there were some loose surfaces. But we felt quite safe, throughout, and did not think that it was actually all that difficult to drive. There were incredible views as we climbed.
The rise up to Mt Caernarvon (920metres) was steady and steep, but the ridge was quite broad, so it seemed very secure. It was a bit hard to believe that we had driven to the top of the second highest peak in SA!
We parked beside the track – just in case there was someone coming behind us – though we had not seen anyone else all day. At the cairn on top of Mt Caernarvon, signed the record book that is kept in a tin there. Wandered about a bit, took photos.
On the top of the ridge there were stands of grass trees, which were quite dramatic with the sky as background.
By the time we were coming down the ridge – steep in places, but not scarily so – it was 4.30pm, and the light for taking photos was getting dull. We stopped at the homestead to turn in the key.
The Skytrek was really worth doing, and worth the money. It was an exhilarating day. We will remain grateful to J and U for introducing us to it – I doubt we would have known anything about it without their help.
We got back to the van at 5.30, having driven 111kms.
We sat in Truck, listening to the news, until 6.15. Also reported ourselves into the 4WD Radio Network Adelaide Base, and listened to their sched session for a while. We drank beer and ate crisps during our radio session.
Then we went for showers and had a light tea: biscuits, cheese and apples.
After tea, we both felt really exhausted – and decided that it had been a really tiring day, after all. We both crawled into bed at 8.45pm! And slept for twelve hours!
It was a warmer night than previous ones, due to the cloud cover. There were a few spits of rain on the roof during the night.