Sunday, 24 September 2023

Our Latest Travels - Southern Flinders Ranges

This trip seemed to be broken up into different sections and next we were embarking on the Flinders Ranges section.  We last visited this area in 1989. Blimey!  Where did that time go?
As we drove towards Quorn we saw more farmhouse ruins.
The Flinders Ranges could be seen in the distance.

We spent most of the morning in Quorn.  It was a lot more vibrant than the small towns we had recently visited.  Being on the tourist trail certainly makes a difference.
Quorn is at the south of the Flinders Ranges and was established as a rail head in the late 1870s.  The rail, known as “The Ghan”, gradually extended further north as far as Alice Springs.  The line was eventually replaced and fell into disrepair.  In more recent times the line from Quorn to Port Augusta was re-established as a tourist line and is very popular.  We weren’t around at a time to go for a ride.
There was a very new garden area behind the Council offices.  Mick was taken with the metal walkway which has been planted with happy wanderer to climb over it.
There are lots of beautiful old buildings. 
There were also several lovely murals.
We were really taken with their war memorial.  As well as a traditional cross, there was a series of sculptures made from bird wire netting.  What a talented artist.
Heading further north we visited the site of the old Kanyaka Station, which was one of the largest pastoral runs in the Flinders Ranges.  The ruins are in exceptional condition.
It was established in 1851 and ended up being the size of a small village, employing up to 70 families.
The woolshed was most impressive.  At its height, some 40,000 sheep were shorn on Kanyaka Station. Keeping in mind that this was all blade shearing, with 24 stands. Mick put his drone up, which shows the scale of just the woolshed.  The building at the rear was some of the shearers’ quarters.  Notice how different the vegetation is from only a day previously.
We visited Kanyaka Station back in 1989 and I wanted to recreate a photo I took back then.
Look at that young whippersnapper.  That is some solid sunny.
Here he is some 34 years later.  Still sporting a flanno shirt and hat. Maybe the hair under the hat has changed colour somewhat.  No, he hasn’t shrunk, he is just standing to the back of the building. The building hasn’t deteriorated very much in that time.

So, why is this impressive property a ruin?  It too was a victim of the drought in the 1860s like so many others.
The next little area we came to was the site of the small town and railway station of Wilson.  Only the station master’s house ruin remains.  It was settled in those bumper years in the late 1870s, outside of the Goyder Line. However, in the long term, this was considered “about as waterless a place as they could have picked”.  The closest water source was 5kms away and the well was unreliable.  For the years 1913 to 1914, there was only a total of 500mm of rain for the two years.  Eventually, everyone gave up on the place and left.
The other main town in the Flinders is Hawker, though nowhere near as vibrant as Quorn.  The old Ghan railway station is now a restaurant.
Mick and his mates travelled in this area in the early 1980s, on their working holiday and crashed a birthday party at this pub, camping over the road in what is now a park.  Different times.
We were gradually getting closer to the main Flinders Ranges.
Our destination for the  next two nights was Rawnsley Park Station, a working sheep station that also has a caravan park, cabins, small store, petrol station and restaurant.  It is located just to the south of the famous Wilpena Pound.  The campground was rather busy, with all powered sites already booked.  We were quite pleased to have an unpowered site, as there were lots of lovely sites to utilise.
Just for fun, this was our setup in 1989, camped at Wilpena Pound -Mick’s very rough old XB Falcon work ute with a Millard slide on camper.  It worked really well and we took it lots of places, albeit rather slowly.
Time for afternoon tea of passion fruit slice that we had bought at the little craft shop in Quorn.  Yummo.
After that we went for a late afternoon walk around.  There is a rather large dam just behind the campground.
Lots of bird life. This is a ring necked parrot.
Beautiful afternoon light.
Wilpena Pound in the background.
What a view.
A nice little fire to finish off another wonderful day.

Saturday, 23 September 2023

Our Latest Travels - Alligator Gorge

One of the main reasons we stayed at Wilmington was to visit Alligator Gorge, after I had seen a photo when we passed through the area last year.  The weather on our second day was perfect for a small bush walk.
It is a part of Mount Remarkable National Park.  To reach the gorge, you had to drive up a very steep winding road, hence no towed vehicles allowed.  
We did the Gorge Circuit Hike.

As always, whatever goes up, must go down….
The main walk was accessed by a very long set of stairs.
Some of the stones used for the steps reveal the fact that they were the sand of an ancient inland sea in prehistoric times.
Once we reached the bottom of the gorge we were dwarfed by the towering cliffs on either side.
For much of the walk you follow a creek. (Fancy that, at the bottom of a gorge.)
I felt quite small.
The main feature is an area known as “The Narrows”, which is aptly named.
For quite a bit of the walk you are rock hopping along the creek bed. It was just ideal when we were there - not dry and dusty, but just enough water to make it pretty and not have to get your feet wet.  
Look how clear the water is.
We struck the perfect season for this walk.  In the many cool damp crannies there were lots of little ferns.  
We also found a few little different fungi.
I was rather excited when I found this rather unusual mushroom, as I had seen them being foraged in an American YouTube film.  I couldn’t remember their name and wondered if these were the same.  A little Google search yielded an interesting article which informed me that they are Morel Mushrooms and these are one of two Australian varieties, being Morchella rufobrunnea, which is found in Western Australia and occasionally in South Australia. Apparently, they are found along edges where fertile meets infertile ground, just on the infertile side.  That sounds just like where we were….remember the Goyder Line.  I feel rather chuffed that we came across them, as they don’t exactly sound commonplace.
There were also many grass trees.
Back on the track, it started to move away from the creek and enter more open country.
And…whatever goes down…..must go up.
And up….  The last part of the walk back to the car was along the road that maintained this slope all the way, for quite some distance.  I found it the hardest part of the whole walk….remember, I’m rather unfit.
Of course, I enjoyed seeing all the wildflowers, being springtime.
I also noticed a couple of little critters in some trees.
We saw one kangaroo as we were walking back up the road, but that was the only wildlife we saw.

We only saw a very few people too.  There was one school group on an overnight hike and a couple of others.  When we got back to the car there was another group getting ready to set off on a 50km walk over a few days.  
We felt we had earned out Eccles Cake for morning tea when we returned to the car.
Before we left the area we went for a couple more very short walks to the lookouts overlooking the gorge.  If we had just visited them we would have been rather disappointed, as they didn’t reveal very much at all of the beauty that lay below.

We are so very pleased that we went to explore Alligator Gorge, as it was truly stunning and not terribly highly publicised.  We felt it was probably nicer that the gorges we visited last year in Central Australia.  Another memorable day.