Flinders Ranges, Googs Track and more.

Saturday, Jun 01, 2013 at 23:45


We travelled 6,456kms in 3 weeks and loved every kilometre.

Hay Plains, Mildura, Port Augusta, Quorn, Flinders Ranges, Gammon Ranges, Arkaroola, Mt Chambers Gorge, Ceduna, Googs Track, Roxby Downs, Oodnadatta Track, Strezlecki Track, Montecollina Bore, Cameron Corner, via QLD to Toona Gate, Olive Downs, Tibooburra, Wanaaring, Louth, Gundabooka NP, Cobar.

Our journey began by leaving Sydney on a cold and wet April morning this year (2013).
We decided to travel via the flat Hay Plains as an alternative to our usual path via Broken Hill. This proved to be an excellent choice as we uncovered some great campsites along the way. The first one was just east of Hay right on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. The next day we travelled through Balranald and Euston, where there were so many vineyards – unbelievable because everything was so dry.

One of the best campsites we found was at Bottle Bend Forest Reserve in the Gol Gol State Forest which was right on the edge of the Murray River, 57kms NW of Euston. Highly recommended – no toilets, no fires (although there were old fire sites everywhere to be seen) and a one night limit. It was very relaxing on the edge of the river with the odd houseboat floating by.

Temperatures were now hitting 31°c, very nice and such a change to what we had left behind in Sydney by all reports from our daughter - wet and cold. Next we stopped for a quick shop in Mildura for a few things we needed. Here you need to remember down the road as you cross the border into SA you will be stopped at the Fruit Fly Check Point even though you are already in a fruit fly exclusion zone just to make things even more confusing. At this point the navigator spotted a great detour via the Murray-Sunset National Park and a top spot on the Murray for lunch. Heading out from our lunch spot we passed a large Almond processing plant at Lindsay Point, it looked like they were in the middle of their harvest as there were huge mounds of nuts.

Another hot day followed - 32°c as we travelled on to Burra where we could just see the Flinders in the distance. We decided to camp the night out at Red Banks Conservation Park about 10kms to the east. Another highly recommended campsite – only has 10 allocated sites and a long drop toilet, well worth the detour.

The following day we headed through Hallett, Wilmington and Jamestown and on to Port Augusta for a final shop and fuel top up then dropped into the visitors information centre and picked up a Desert Parks Pass for our Simpson crossing in July. Camped the night in Quorn with friends then the next morning our new group of 3 vehicles and campers headed out to Arden Hills. Our local friends know the owner and organised for us to camp on his property just next to Warren Gorge. After setting up camp we did the “Arden Hills” 4x4 self drive track which was spectacular. Heading out the next morning we spotted Yellow Footed Rock Wallabies in a small gully next to the road, great looking animals with striped tails.

From Warren Gorge we travelled to Hawker via the scenic route coming out on the main road at the Gordon Historic Site, dropped into Kanyaka ruins then into Yourambulla Caves to check out some Aboriginal art. Had lunch at Hawker then on to Wilpena Pound to get a Holiday Parks Pass plus camping as it was cheaper to do this and less trouble – not to register each time you entered a camping area within a park.

We headed out to Aroona Valley via Bunyeroo Valley Scenic drive to the Koolamon camp site. Our plan was to use this as a base camp and do day trips from here. This was a well set up camp site as there was no through traffic, clean and tidy toilets and plenty of tank water. We did get a little extra with our own resident feral cat that came in and helped himself to our friends rubbish and licked clean a meat tray that we recovered from the bushes. After this I kept him busy dodging rocks whenever I spotted him but this did not really perturb him much at all.

The colours of this area are just beautiful and nothing short of breathtaking, it is no wonder that in the 1950’s Hans Heyson chose to spend time here at Koolamon Springs painting. Day trips included Brachina Gorge, Glass Gorge, Blinman, Aroona Lookout, Parachilna Gorge, Nuccaleena Copper Mine where Ros found a geocache (these are small waterproof containers containing a logbook where the geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name). After signing into the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where the person found it. We also went to Parachilna - Praire Hotel where we just had to have a cold one or two. This hotel is renowned for their road kill menu and their FLIES, unbelievable!

We now had to separate from our Quorn friends as they had another trip to begin in a couple of days heading out to Maralinga.
Heading out via Brachina Gorge with our Sydney friends we made our way to Barndioota Road and aired up for the quick trip up to Leigh Creek for fuel then Copley for a recommended Quondong pie and coffee. Our plan was to head into the North Flinders Ranges and have a look around. Turning offCopley Road around Mt Serle and heading north we camped at Mainwater Well for the night.

Next day we went via Gammon Yards, Grindell’s Hut then out onto Arkaroola Road past Mt McTaggart then into Arkaroola. The weather was still warm around 32°c at lunch time so we setup camp and then went for a look at the Ochre Wall, Jasper Twins and Barraranna Gorge. Up early and headed out to The Pinnacles, Bolla Bollana Springs, Old Bolla Bollana Smelters and Nooldoonooldoona Waterhole. We were not overly impressed with Arkaroola as a place to camp so we packed up and headed down to Weetootla Gorge and had the place to ourselves.
The next day we travelled to Mt Chambers Gorge which is well worth a visit, however there are only 4 allocated campsites per night so it is a good idea to get there early to ensure a spot. Great Aboriginal rock carvings to view here.

From here we returned to Port Augusta for fuel and on to Iron Knob, Kimba (Big Galah), Kyancutta, Wudinna and Wirrulla ending up at Ceduna to refuel and restock, ready to tackle The Googs Track (300 sand dunes over 200 kms - mini Simpson).
We highly recommend The Googs Track because it was thoroughly enjoyable as it has a couple of tricky sand dunes that commanded consideration. Sand flags are a must on this track. On one of these steep dunes we came bumper to bumper with an oncoming 4WD who had no flag and no radio - needless to say he was somewhat ashen in colour and a little shaken when we passed. He would of seen our flag before the car.

We checked out the Googs Memorial which consists of 2 structures dedicated to the father and son who created the track between their property – “Lone Oak” and Malbooma (200 kms). There are 2 money trees at the memorial which have hundreds of coins slotted into the bark from past travellers.
A little further on is Googs Lake (a huge salt pan) where we camped for 2 nights as it had a lot space for many people and it was very picturesque (no toilets).
Once the Googs Track was complete we then travelled on to Tarcoola and Kingoonya where we camped the night. It was here we were woken at 3am by a mini tornedo that buffeted us with gale force winds, rain and sand. It was over within 15 minutes but was certainly a concern to us. The up side of this was that the Jeep was as clean as a whistle the next morning. That morning we travelled to Glendambo for breakfast and refuelling.

Plans were changed to avoid the prevailing storm front and so we travelled to Roxby Downs, Marree and Farina Ruins which is well worth a look as it has recently been updated with camping now an option.
Journeying on we reached the Oodnadatta Track, camping at the back of the Wangianna Ruins – another cracker campsite as it was off the road and out of sight.
The next night we camped at Montecollina Bore. This stopover is highly recommended because it is the home to abundant water birds, galahs, finches, rabbits and dingoes. Swimming was an option and seemed a lovely reprieve from the bull dust, deep ruts and corregations on the Strezleki Track from Lyndhurst. That night at dinner we had an unwanted guest who had 4 legs and a tail who was sure he had a portion of steak and onions with his name on it.
We left Montecollina Bore and headed to Merty Merty via the mini Simpson Track (26 kms). Onwards along the Old Strezleki Track was a mistake as it was dull and boring and mainly for the oil and gas workers.
We drove on to Cameron Corner for a quick burger and then headed out via Queensland, Toona Gate and on to Olive Downs (NSW) – Sturt National Park – Fees apply $5.00/ person/night. This is a wonderful camp spot that has BBQ’s, long drop toilets.

The next day we stopped at Tibooburra for fuel and coffee and then travelled on to Wanaaring where we stayed overnight at Coopers Corner Shop and Caravan Park. There is not much on offer around this neck of the woods but this proved to be very good due to the country hospitality given. For thrills that night, the local tip was set alight and 4 large steers grazed freely in the streets. We both enjoyed a lovely warm shower that night sharing it with the frogs that poked their heads through the shower drains. It had only been 1 week since our last shower – happy campers that night.
The next day was Anzac Day and we drove to Louth pub for a hearty lunch. There was only one other elderly man there and 4 dogs for company. Speaking to the publican we decided to stay at Dry Tank Campground at Gundabooka National Parkgreat camp spot, $5.00/person/night.
The next day we travelled to Cobar and on to Florida Rest Area (48 kms this side of Cobar) that was to be our last night camping before we arrived back in Sydney.

What an incredible adventure this proved to be!
The Flinders Ranges is a wonderful place to visit and explore. The varied and beautiful colours of the landscapes and the spectacular rugged peaks and jagged gorges make this destination quite special.
We travelled for 3 weeks and covered 6456 kms without having any mechanical problems or hiccups. If you have not yet travelled through the Flinders Ranges we highly recommend you do.
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