This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2005 Travels September 21


Managed a fairly early start, while the morning was still cool.

Resize of 09-20-2005 23 at Coopers Ck Birdsville Tk

Early morning, Cooper Creek

I would have liked to detour off to the east, to see where the ferry operated from, in years when the creek was in flood. But the driver was not interested.

We passed Clayton Station. They had recently set up a campground by a wetland area – another place I would have liked to explore and stay!

Saw a mob of emus, not too far from the road, when we had stopped for a morning tea break. John decided to try out something he had seen on a TV program, and stood, waving his hat in the air.The theory was that emus are very curious creatures, and would approach closer to investigate. But these emus didn’t know that theory – or maybe they were short sighted – and ignored his efforts.

Resize of 09-21-2005 01 John trying to attract emus

Once we reached Marree, we were back on a route travelled before. We did not stop in that settlement, but turned and headed south.

Eventually reached the sealed road again. Stopped at Leigh Creek to refuel, having done 333kms by then. $1.45cpl.

Continued on, eventually running alongside the western flank of the Flinders Ranges – always a beautiful drive. Turned east on to the unsealed Moralana Scenic Drive, which was a short cut between the main road we had been on and that north from Hawker into the Flinders Ranges. We had driven this before. As before, it was really pretty in the late afternoon light – but there was little stopping for photos.

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Flinders Ranges from the Moralana Scenic Drive

Decided to book into the camp ground at Rawnsley Park Station, rather than going a bit further on to Wilpena, which had originally been John’s intention. The stay would only be for one night, it seemed, as John wanted to press on to Broken Hill and then take a break from driving days, there.

The unpowered site cost $16.20 after discount. The place was surprisingly busy and there were no powered sites to be had. We set up away from the more formal area, though it meant a bit of a hike to the ablutions block.

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Camp at Rawnsley Park Station

We were in a pleasant grove of cypress pines.

Although it was quite late in the afternoon, managed a short walk out along a station track, before settling in for the night.

Resize of 09-21-2005 to rp

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1999 Travels May 18


We woke up a bit stiff after yesterday. This was surprising, because we have been doing a lot of walking. Must have been due to the gradients, I think.

We decided that a drive would be a pleasant way to spend the day, which is our final one here, for this trip.

We drove the Bunyeroo Gorge road again, with its superb views. Continued north from Bunyeroo Gorge, to intersect with the Brachina Gorge road. Drove west through Brachina Gorge, in places driving in the pebbly bed of the dry creek. Kept going on the track to meet the sealed Leigh Creek road, on the western side of the ranges. Drove north to Parachilna , then followed the unsealed road and track back east through Parachilna Gorge. We turned left just through the gorge to go have a look at the Glass Gorge and find somewhere pleasant for lunch.

The Glass Gorge track was the route used, until 1889, to cart copper ingots from Blinman to the railway at Parachilna. It follows a very winding creek bed.

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The Glass Gorge Pastoral Access Route

Ate our lunch in the dry creek bed.

I had thought that we would continue on to Blinman and return to camp from there, but John decided on the spur of the moment – at nearly 2pm – to drive the Public Access Route to the Artimore ruins, to the north. This was just because I casually mentioned that it was there, and what a great idea these Public Access Routes are. I also said it was “too late this time – another time”. Me and my big mouth!

We took the track past “Moolooloo” and turned right where it was signed. Drove through the Hannigans Gap and along the Gap Creek valley and gorges. It was excellent scenery and somewhat challenging driving. The gorges were much better than those we had been through on the Skytrek route.

05-18-1999 03 Wearing Gap on Artimore tk

The PAR track in Hannigans Gap

We stopped and collected a small cypress pine log from there, to become woodwork timber and some sort of permanent souvenir.

After Hannigans Gap it was slow going, with lots of little gullies and channels to negotiate.

05-18-1999 04 Oratunga Ck valley

The PAR track in the Oratunga Creek valley

We reached the Artimore ruins. This was established as a sheep station in the 1850’s, but abandoned in the early 20th century, due to drought and the ravages of wild dogs and rabbits. Clearly, in its time, there were a number of quite substantial stone buildings here. There was enough left of these to make the drive worthwhile – and they were in a superb setting, in a valley amongst the rugged ranges.

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Artimore ruins – possibly the main homestead?

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This may have been the workers’ quarters?

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The Artimore ruins in their rugged setting

05-18-1999 09 Artimore old building

The workmanship is evident in this ruined building at Artimore

After looking around the ruins for a time – too short – we continued on. On my not very detailed map, a track was shown going south to the Blinman road. But there was a track junction not far from the ruins, and I was not sure which way to go. There was a rough  Orantunga Station sign, pointing one way. We remembered the Willow Springs people saying that Orantunga had set up something similar to Skytrek, so thought we had better not go that way.

After quite a lot of very tense and rather rough kms, we came to a PAR signed gate, and knew that we were not going to end up in nowhere, or at a locked gate! We were unsure of the distance we still had to go, it was getting late, and it had been threatening to rain all day. We had only had a few drops, but the sky was dark.

We were very relieved when we then quite quickly reached what looked like the Angorichina road, turned right, and soon after met the Blinman to Wilpena  road.

On the way back stopped at Stokes Lookout to watch the sunset – it was that late!

We got back to Wilpena just after dark, having driven 229kms.

Despite the anxiety at times, it had been a great day. One of John’s “little adventures”, and one which ended better than some!

Tea was packet soup, and a quickly made pasta, tomato and tuna dish – very good.

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Our driving and walking routes in the Flinders Ranges, whilst we were based at Wilpena


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1999 Travels May 13


The day got off to a fairly slow start, after John stayed up really late, playing his game.

We decided to walk part of the Wilkawillina Gorge Track. The information about this walk made it seem interesting, and it was one we had not tackled in prior visits. We had seen the country around that area from a vantage point on the Skytrek drive. It is still within the general area of The Bunkers ranges.

If we’d had two vehicles, could have put one at each end of the walk through the gorge, and done a shuttle, to avoid retracing our steps. But we don’t – so decided to tackle the northern end of the walk, and do about half of the track – both ways!

While John was getting organized, I cooked up some potato for tonight’s tea, expecting that we might be a bit late back. Made lunch.

Drove back to the main road and turned north again. This time we stayed on the unsealed Blinman road, past the entrance to Willow Springs, and took the right fork – the road to Wirrealpa. About 40kms from Wilpena, found the track north to the Mt Billy Creek Trailhead, drove the 7kms to this and parked Truck.

We ate our lunch at the car park at the Trailhead, at the start of the gorge track. Spotted a spiny cheeked honey eater in some bush by the creek.

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The terrain and walk track, just after starting the Wilkawillina Gorge walk

We walked to the 4.2km mark, through interesting and varied terrain. There were some excellent waterholes in the Ten Mile Creek that goes through the gorge.

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Waterhole and bulrushes in Wilkawillina Gorge

In general terms, this eastern side of the Flinders is drier than around the Heysen Range and Wilpena, so there is mulga rather than the cypress pines of the country we were in yesterday.

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A dry section of Ten Mile Creek in Wilkawillina Gorge

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Arid slopes beside Wilkawillina Gorge – and dead mulga

The rocks in this area are a mix of sandstones and limestones – the latter more white than red. In one place we could see water ripple marks, made when this was deposited under an ancient lake or sea bed.

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Ripple patterns in limestone rock

At the 4.2km mark – we were following track notes, so we knew where we were – it was time to turn around and retrace our steps, to make it an 8.4km walk in total.

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Wilkawillina Gorge country

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Late afternoon on the Wilkawillina Gorge track

Before we left camp, I’d persuaded John to try walking in the HiTec boots that were Dad’s. I’d brought these with us to use myself. He found them comfortable – no problems with blisters in these. Dad would have been pleased!

It was just about dark by the time we got back to camp, having driven 97kms.

Tea was pumpkin soup, followed by salmon cakes.

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1999 Travels May 12


The sky was blue again this morning. Sod’s Law! There was some cumulus cloud build up during the day, but it remained clear enough to see the stars at night. They are absolutely brilliant up here.

After breakfast, John did some share arranging, going to the phone to call our broker and buy a tech stock he likes, with the improbable name of Sausage Works. He used his “share” of the proceeds from the Telstra ones I sold.

He refuelled Truck – still 81cpl.

I cleaned the van out, made lunch, wiped the dust from yesterday from the interior Truck surfaces – there was lots of it!

We went for a drive up the Bunyeroo Valley. Drove back to the main road, turned north (the road is unsealed from this point)  and a few kms on, took the Bunyeroo Track to the left. We stopped at the Yanyanna old stock yards and huts and looked around, before continuing on.

05-12-1999 01 heysen range from stock yard and huts

Outlook at the old stock yards and huts – Yanyanna

This part of the Flinders has got to be the most scenic part of the whole area – there are superb, panoramic views from lookouts and road bends along the road to the Gorge.

05-12-1999 02 Bunyeroo panorama RHS

ABC and Heysen Ranges from a lookout on the Bunyeroo Gorge Track

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The Bunyeroo Gorge Track and the Heysen Range

We ate lunch down in the bottom of the valley, beside Bunyeroo Creek. Did some bird spotting.

John used the Radphone – which he’d arrranged to have connected again, from yesterday, to call both brother C and sister H. He was pleased that the HF radio seems to be working well. It was a good, clear connection. We will be relying on it more and more, now.

I was looking for the walking track along the Bunyeroo Gorge, and couldn’t find it. Turned out we were not far enough along – it was annoying. My map did not seem all  that accurate.

Eventually we drove along a bit further, parked Truck, and walked for an hour south along the Wilcolo Track. This was pleasant walking, initially beside a creek bed, then through an area of cypress pines. There were excellent view of the Heysen Range, to start.

05-12-1999 07 Bunyeroo Wilcolo walk.jpg

Cypress pines growing along the Wilcolo Track. Despite its width, there is no public vehicle access.

At the end of an hour we turned and retraced the way, and then the views of the ABC Range were great. As we walked, we saw kangaroos, goats and emus. Stopped periodically to look for birds. All up, we walked about 7kms.

05-12-1999 09 walk track bunyeroo wilcolo tk - st marys peak.jpg

Late afternoon on the Wilcolo Track

Drove back to Truck the way we had come. Got back to camp about 5.30pm. We drove 63kms today.

The hot shower was very welcome.

Tea was pumpkin soup, beef stroganoff with pasta.

John was not as tired tonight and sat up late playing his alpha centauri game. I went to bed quite early.

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1999 Travels May 9


As we had arranged yesterday, J and U arrived at our camp about 9.30. They inspected the van and we had a cuppa.

We then went in their Nissan onto nearby Willow Springs property, to drive part of the Sky Trek track there. They had been unable to contact the owners, who are their friends, to get the keys to do the full track.

Sky Trek is a drive for 4WD vehicles that these people have developed on their property, following station tracks, those made in earlier times by miners, and goat shooters, and tracks they have formed to link them up. It has been open for about four years. It is something different and hence J and U wanted us to see it.

Although, without the gate key, we could not drive the full Skytrek circuit, we were still able to go a long way on the station tracks that J and U know.

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Driving track on Willow Springs

The scenery was brilliant – creek lines, gorges, great old river red gum trees, and the rugged, photogenic Bunkers Range as backdrop.

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The Bunkers Range

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Mt Chambers – driving track below

We had a BBQ lunch in a dry creek bed, near an old shepherd’s hut. Both the setting and the meal were great. My meal contributions were steaks and salad. J bought some home made bread, a cake, and red wine. It was quite a party, in a superb setting, and with only us there.

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This is the place for a picnic


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Old Moxon’s Hut – constructed of local logs

fter lunch we drove some more tracks, including up a hill that gave an excellent lookout over the ranges.

05-09-1999 08 Pinnacle Ranges Skytrek track

In the Bunkers

As a finale, they drove us to Skull Rock – up an old barites mine track, which was steep and rough, with some decent drops in places – not my favourite sort of road! We walked for ten minutes from where U parked, to get to where we could see the Skull. It was a very different landform – a “flow” of calcium carbonate through a narrow gap in the normal rocks of the area. It has been weathered and the colour and hollows on the surface do rather suggest a skull.

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Skull Rock

It was dark by the time we got back to Wilpena, after a great day out.

We promised to stay in touch. U and I had done some reminiscing, while we were going along, about the Tasmanian trip we’d done in 1969/70, with J and B. U suggested we should have a reunion with them and a showing of all of our slides from that trip – sometime in the future – at Loxton, maybe, as it is central to us all.

After the substantial lunch, we only needed a light tea: a tin of soup, toasted cheese.

Today was such a great day that we decided to buy a Sky Trek pass and drive the full route, ourselves, before we leave here.

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1999 Travels May 7


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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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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1999 Travels May 5


Today was a superb day – clear blue sky, and warm.

I walked to the shops while John made breakfast. Bought a paper and posted S’s birthday card and cheque. It is a bit early but we may not have postal facilities again, for a while.

Left the caravan park at 9.15. Stopped to buy diesel – 74cpl – and while that was happening I raced off and bought some more grapefruit. We have taken to eating a half one of these each, for breakfast.

Today’s was another interesting drive, with the Flinders Ranges and, eventually, the rim of Wilpena Pound coming into view in the distance.

From Burra, we travelled north to Terowie, then cut through to Peterborough – a fair sized little town that looked worth exploring at some time. Then it was on to Orroroo, and Carrieton. To this point the country had been slightly undulating grazing and wheat land. After Carrieton there were more low hills, then, from Cradock there was a definite range ahead.

We had encountered gravel road each side of Cradock, but it was good quality.

The approach to Hawker was rather scenic. We stopped here to eat lunch, at a pleasant picnic area and well done Information Centre.  Then took the Wilpena turnoff. The main road continues on towards Leigh Creek and parts north, and we shall pick that up again later.

North of this little town, the ranges ahead became more defined, and around the turnoff to Rawnsley Park Station, we could see the ramparts of the Wilpena Pound, to the left, ahead.

We started to see some stands of cypress pine. I associate these, so much, with Wilpena – on a previous school holiday trip here, in 1992, cypress pine firewood was available, and the whole campground smelled aromatic from it. There were the occasional big old red gums too.

Initially, after Hawker, we’d been heading north through a wide flat valley between low ranges. This gradually narrowed and the ranges got higher. We turned west onto the Wilpena road and the jagged Pound rim was not far ahead.

Reached Wilpena mid afternoon. It has changed greatly in the seven years since our last visit. There is a new Visitor Centre, and shops, and a new powered caravan section in the camp ground. There are also new amenity blocks. It now seems very slanted towards eco tourism and being environmentally sensitive. They now run a shuttle bus to the Pound entrance – no more driving one self – and charge $3 each to ride it!

We took a powered caravan site at $17 a night. But the seventh night is free. Also bought a four-week National Park Pass for $15. Found I can buy a Desert Parks Pass here too, which we will need later in the year.

Our site is firm gravel, big, and well separated from neighbouring sites by treed areas and walkways. Despite it being the designated caravan section, it has more the feel of a bush camp. It has a water tap, too, and a ring of stones making a fireplace. There is no TV, though. Wonderful! The stay here is going to be so good! It is great to be back here again, with time to thoroughly explore, this visit. I am “owed” lots of bush walks, after John’s bowls indulgences – and there are lots of walks to choose from, in these parts!

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Wilpena camp – amongst cypress pines and with a mountain backdrop

After we’d set up for an extended stay, watched by a rather noisy Red Wattlebird, we walked around the “village” and visited the shop, to see what it offered. Basic groceries, tourist items, take away type food and the like. There is a distinct “bush” smell about the place.

We discovered whilst setting up, that there are plenty of mosquitoes here!

Tea was soup, rissoles and vegies.

The night got very cold. With no TV, it was a matter of reading, then getting a fairly early night.

05-05-1999 burra to wilpena

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1999 Travels April 29


More bowls. We went through the same morning transport routine.

Today they were playing more Pairs.

I went and picked up my photos, and mailed them home, along with a poster we’d gotten from the bowls club that had a good photo of the place. We want that kept at home for us for a keepsake.

Had my hair cut. Checked at the Post Office in case there was mail – nothing. Bought a new battery for my watch. Bought a few food items.

We have decided on our next moves from here, so I phoned Wilpena Pound, in the Flinders Ranges, and booked us into their camping ground for a week.

Read for a couple of hours. Made soup.

Collected John from bowls. He had a better day – they won two of the three games, but did not make the finals. So, he is happier, but is getting tired.

Tea: vegie and barley soup, sausages and gravy and mashed potato.