TUESDAY APRIL 27 MT IVE
We left camp about 9.30am, to have a day out visiting the Gawler Ranges National Park, to the south.
Took the road towards Thurlga Homestead, then went SE for a while on the Kimba road, before turning west onto the Public Access Route to the old Paney Homestead and the Park.
The unsealed roads were reasonable and the scenery interesting. We saw an emu with six chicks, near Thurlga. The PAR to the Park was rougher than the proper tracks, with a few wet patches.
We had to register at the Paney Shearing Shed near the Park entrance. $6.50 a vehicle.
From there, took the 4WD LP Track track to the NW, to the Kolay Hut camp area. That track was pretty good.
Kolay campground was a pleasant camp area, treed, with a toilet and a dry creek. For those looking for a less populated bush camping area, outside of the summer months, this one would be pretty good.
There was an outlook to a low range.
In wandering about, exploring, we found what appeared to be a really old lean-to shelter, made of logs, wire netting and dead grasses. I would have loved to know the story of that – person shelter? Doghouse? Chook house?
Followed a vehicle track up a valley across from the camp area, and looked at some small, dry, waterfalls in the gully, thinking these were the Kolay Mirica Falls. Walked up their gully a little way. Notable were the various rock formations. Organ pipe structures seemed plentiful in the Gawler Ranges.
Continuing further along the LP Track, we found the real Kolay Mirica Falls a bit further on. So it was another little detour up to the parking area, and more walking and exploring. These were bigger and more scenic than what we’d thought were they. But dry, apart from a few rock puddles.
There was no doubt about the overall aridity of this area, however, I suspected it could be really pretty in the spring wildflower period, especially if winter had been reasonably wet.
Kept driving on the LP Track. This became much rougher after the Falls. A couple of the dry stream crossings and rougher areas gave M a chance to try out her repaired low range gears – all seemed ok.
Turned to the SE onto the Mattera Track, then stopped by a large, dry, creek bed to eat lunch. There were some very big kangaroos about these parts!
The Mattera Track proceeded down a really pretty valley between the ranges. It joined the Old Paney Scenic Route and we detoured slightly to the west to look at the Old Paney Homestead, and had a walk around there.
The Gawler Ranges region was settled for pastoralism within three decades of the establishment of a colony at Adelaide in the 1830’s. Paney, Yardea and Thurlga were the main large pastoral leases in the area. At times, Paney and Yardea had the same owners. In 2000, the government bought the Paney lease area and turned it into a National Park, possibly due to the unusual rock formations. But now, of course, some of the pastoral history of the area is preserved in structures like the Old Paney Shearing Shed.
Drove back to the east then took a side track to drive the little circuit track around Waukinna Hill – just to see a bit more of the country.
It was about 3pm when we got back to the Shearing Shed at the eastern entrance to the Park. We felt like we’d seen a representative sample of the Park, so retraced our way back to Mt Ive. Stopped to gather some more firewood and got back to camp about 4.30pm.
We had only encountered two other vehicles through the entire day’s outing! One of them was a Kea hire 4WD, with a Swiss couple. We’d met them on the PAR on the way in, this morning; they were departing after camping in the Park. We’d chatted briefly with them then, as you tend to do on encounters in isolated areas. They had wanted to know the state of the track we had just come over. They were at Mt Ive when we got back, and the man came over to have a chat. This was their third visit to Australia and they were enjoying getting away from the standard tourist places.
We sat round a campfire for a while, then had a tea of fishcakes, zucchini and tomato.
Our verdict was that it had been a day worth doing. Also, if we got back into “proper” travel again – and if John could exist for a few days without things that ran on 240v power – then the Gawler Ranges would be an enjoyable place to camp.
We’d had some light rain as we travelled, this morning, but the sky was clear by afternoon. The moon was getting on towards full – lovely to see. It was a cold night, due to the clear sky.
M had decided she had a mouse, somewhere in Bessie! It had been waking her up at night, rustling around. She did not have a trap with her, but I reckoned that was going to be at the top of her shopping list when we hit civilization again!
The big questions were: 1. Where did she pick up the critter? and 2. Was it a rodent mouse or some sort of native critter? Given its behaviour, seemed most likely it was an ordinary variety mouse mouse.