WEDNESDAY 9 MAY ARKAROOLA
It rained through the night. That ominous grey sky, yesterday, was for real. Today turned into a grey, chilly, damp one. What is it about us? We should charge for rain making, I reckon. It happens to us all the time – usually when someone says “It doesn’t rain up here at this time of the year.”
We spent most of the day in the van and M in her living tent. There is little motivation in parts such as these – or in any parts for that matter – for going out and getting wet, just for the sake of doing something.
I passed the time reading and writing diary; John played computer games; M did crosswords and read.
M and I walked up to the office and extended our stay by four nights.
After lunch, it began to clear up, though it was still overcast.
About 3pm we decided to go for a (relatively) short drive – to Paralana Hot Springs, to the NE of Arkaroola, some 30 kms by track.
Had to drive back down the “main” road for about 6kms, then took the 4WD Stubbs Waterhole track, which eventually became the track to the springs.
The track was much rougher than we expected, so the “short” drive took longer than we’d expected. High clearance was definitely needed on that track!
From the parking area, we had to walk a short way to reach the pools that are the springs. These were steaming slightly, in the cool air. I found them quite sinister looking, but this feeling may be due to knowledge of their origin and nature – suggestivity?
Paralana Hot Springs are one of only three radioactive hot springs in the world. The granite rocks in these parts contain uranium, which is breaking down and giving off heat – true “hot rocks”. Ground water passing through cracks in the rocks gets heated up and emerges as springs at around 60 degrees celsius temperature. Too hot for most things that would normally live in a spring fed pool in these parts, (disregarding the radioactivity!)
The uranium decaying process also gives off very highly radio active radon gas. This is a heavy gas and in still air settles over the surface of the pools and surrounding areas. It gets blown away when there is any breeze – fortunately, because it is very bad for life forms such as us!
Apparently, there is some primitive slime – extremophiles – in these pools that may be a remnant of the original life form on Earth – when things were much hotter. These are of great interest to scientists. They postulate that similar life forms may be found on Mars. If this stuff was the original life form on Earth, that must mean it is a very distant relative of ours. Looking at it. I am not enthralled with that thought…..
There really is so much that is interesting and unique about this lesser known outlier of the Flinders Ranges.
It was dusk by the time we bumped and ground our way back over the atrocious track to better going, and hence back to camp.
No campfire tonight, in the chill and damp. Just tea, and a retreat to our respective boltholes.