Gawler Ranges Grandeur Sept 2012

Tuesday, Oct 23, 2012 at 06:55

Member - Warrie (NSW)

Kicking off in Kingoonya we head south between Lakes Harris and Gairdner on an excellent 2WD dirt road. 10 mins out of town is Kingoonya Hill with its trig point and views of the lakes. The surprisingly scenic hills forming the southern horizon mark the northern outliers of the Gawler Ranges. The road stays uncorrugated passing the western side of Lake Everard. Here there's no salt, just a claypan. But golden sand dunes contrast with the roadside reds.
31km further is Skull Camp Tanks - a roof gathers rain and diverts it to 4 half buried tanks. Soon after (20 mins) we encounter the road crew whose grading efforts are hardly needed as the road is smooth and untrafficed - only 3 vehicles seen all day. The rear window is soon coated in fine dust which the grader has loosened.
Lichen looking identical to that growing on Sydney's rooftops coats the red rhyolite rocks with a green grey tinge. We meet the grader driver midway through his 18 day shift and then there's more dust, this time from a mob of sheep being rounded up.
The clouds are breaking and the azure blue sky enhances the rich outback reds and the budding gums. Waltumba Tank has been restored in 2002 with a new roof but enough holes to act as pinhole cameras and project images of the sun into its cool dark interior. The pump releases cool potable water, most welcome as the temperature climbs over 30 degrees at 1pm.
A PAR to Lake Gairdner is only 1.5km long and we arrive to watch 3 emus blithely trotting across the salt. Lunch is had in the shade of the only available tree and in 34 degree heat and wind we head up the nature walk. This puts us 80m above the lakes 125m asl salt surface and thus the horizon is just over 30 km away. The scenery is totally awesome with red islands amid the brilliant white salt. Peninsulas and bays curve out and in, a sharp horizon delineates salt from sky and hardy desert vegetation clings to life.

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