Day 46 to 48 of our Big Trip of the Simpson and now the Flinders Ranges

Monday, Aug 10, 2015 at 18:22

Member - Matwil

Day 46 Saturday 8th

We were packed up early (early for us anyway) and set off out of the protected area to the main road. It's a 20 klm drive through creek beds and took about 90 minutes. You can see the effect of no grazing for 20 years as the land and vegetation is coming back. It is a beautiful area.
Once back on the main road we headed up to Arkaroola Village. Our supplies are getting low and we hope to restock there before we head up to Innaminka. The drive was though the plains with the mountains ever in the distance. It is scenery of which I have seen no like in Australia. The mountain ranges are different to what I am used to. Also with the rain they had here in June, the landscape is greener than it normally is. You get wonderful patterns of different types of greenery which forever changes, and makes the drive forever interesting.

We drove part of the way to Arkaroola Village on a 4WD track through the bush which also was interesting.
We arrived in the early afternoon. A check out of the store left us with a sinking feeling. If you liked chocolate then you had plenty of choice, but outside that and diesel there was really nothing in their supermarket to buy. What now. Anyway it was too late to drive anywhere else so we paid for a tent site for the night. The Village is privately owned and is an echo tourist resort; I think one of the first in Australia. It is set up to cater for tourists who want the echo experience but not the pain of camping. Although a camping ground is attached. We set up camp in the afternoon sun, which was pleasant and warm. Then the sun went down and the temperature dropped suddenly. Very quickly I had on my thermals, jumpers and big coat… it was freezing. We decided to eat at the restaurant so we could also watch footy. Surely they will televise the Swans- Geelong game. As well we are in Adam Goodes country so the match is sure to be on. We had dinner and went out to the TV to find that the televised game was Hawthorn vs West Coast. Oh well its better sitting in here to watch that than freeze outside so that is what we will do… and that’s what we did… till half time at least.

At dinner we found out that the Variety Bash with 300 odd people would be in Arkaroola on Sunday night and that it would be best to leave next morning.

We went back to camp and we decided that we would set off early next morning for Leigh Creek which has a supermarket. Leigh Creek is a mining town so we will be able to stock up there. There are two ways we can go, one is around the top end of the National Park, and the other is to backtrack the way we had come which was 20 klms longer. We settled on the shorter route around the top end of the park as we felt that would get us into Leigh Creek early, plus there were some sights to see along the way, then we could stock up and come back. So off to sleep we went, freezing.

Day 47 Sunday 9th
We set off on the top end track. According to the literature it is a 2WD track but 4WD is recommended. The first 2 or 3 klms were quite easy and then we got to a creek wash out. This was definitely a 4WD track. We got to an old Copper mine in the middle on now where without much trouble which was about 8klms down the track. After that things started to get rough. This was not only a 4WD track, but also high clearance and a great deal of 4WDriving skill was required. We pressed on alternating between 4WD high and 4WD low for the washouts. Twenty kilometres in 3 hours so much for the short cut. One wash out was so large we had to build the road up to be able to tackle it…. But we got though OK. This is stone country and this type of 4WDing is far more challenging that sand. There is an ever likely risk of piercing a tyre on the sharp jagged rocks. My tyre pressures were down, and the BF Goodrich all terrain tyres were more than up to the challenge.
We finally made the campground at Arcoona at about 2.30pm.. we had planned to be there for morning tea, but made lunch. We now came to the realization that we were not coming back to this area today, so resigned that we would be staying in Leigh Creek for the night. We still had about 75 klms to go.
We finally arrived in Leigh Creek a little after 4pm and found out that all the shops close on Sunday. SO shopping will have to be next morning. We checked into the caravan park ($16 a night for a non powered site – the cheapest yet and a fantastic host.)

We cooked in the camp kitchen and turned in early after a few drinks… I’m afraid the driving even though it was only 150klms wore me out.
Because we had to do the shopping, and we had seen more of the National Park than we bargained for, we decided to stay 2 nights in Leigh Creek. If the truth is known the decision was made because it is about 6 degrees warmer here than at Arkaroola – we are sick of being cold.
A couple of blokes pulled in next to us and set up camp. They introduced themselves… one was from Bathurst and the other from Oberon – what a small world.

Day 48 Monday 10th.
Before we went shopping we decided to do a bit of exploring. We went out to Aroona Dam which supplies the town’s water supply and water to the Leigh Creek coal mine. It is a sanctuary for wild life as well. In the early days the yellow foot wallaby was hunted to extinction in the area. In the 1990’s 8 breeding pairs were released into the sanctuary and their numbers are increasing. Louise hopes to see one and photograph it. Off we went and walked around the area.

Unfortunately we didn't see any wallabies, but the scenery out there is amazing. After 3 hours of exploring we set off for the Ochre wall north of Lyndhurst. That was also an amazing experience. This ochre has been traded all over the centre and east of Australia for 10,000’s years. The colour of the ochre went from white, orange to deep red and the aborigines still mine it for their traditional ceremonies today.

After the photos we took off to see Talc Alf. I have seen stories about him on TV but they did not prepare us for what was to come. We had a look at his artwork, as no one was home. He is a republican and had a sign up pointing out that the Australian constitution in Clause one says you can only be an Australian citizen as long as you do not swear allegiance to a foreign country. He claims that that means having the union jack in our flag is in breach of the constitution. As people who know me well they know that I have been a supporter of a republic for Australia since 1964, so I have leanings towards his point of view. Anyway we were in the process of buying one of his talc art pieces when low and behold Talc Alf turns up. Well what an experience. He gave us his whole philosophy on life and his theory on the meaning of letters and how words came about. Left field stuff but intrieging. WE had a ball listening to his theories. WE parted friends when he found out I was a republican. For those that don't know I became a Republican when I was fined for putting my citizenship on a census form in 1964 as Australian. I was told to change it to British Subject because only naturalized people could be Australian Citizens. I refused because I was born here and so I was fined so I have been a staunch republican ever since.

We dropped into Copley and had a home made pastie (Louise) and a home made pie (me) and then set off and stocked up. Tomorrow we are off to Innaminka (warmth) up the Stezlecki Track so will be off air for about 4 or 5 days. At Innaminka we are going up to Coongie lakes as there is water there and I am told that the area is magnificent for bird and wild life with plenty of photo opportunities.

Tonight a bunch of school kids have joined us in the caravan park as part of a school excursion through the Flinders ranges. Its fun watching them all set up their tents. Some do it with ease… others make a fist of it. It is great to see kids getting out to see some of this great land and learn to explore.

As a postscript the Leigh Mine has been in operation for over 100 years. In fact the aborigines have stories in their dream time on how coal came to be there and there is evidence that they collected coal as well. The mine provides the coal for the electricity generators in Port Augusta. It has already been announced that the generators will be closed down in late 2016. Last week the power company announced that they will close the Leigh Creek mine in the next couple of months as they have enough stocks of coal to see them through. So the whole reason for this town will disappear. Some 700 people call this home. The government built the town but it was privatized in the late 1990’s. What will become of it now and what will they do with all the houses. I hope it doesn't go the way of the original Leigh Creek township which they bulldozed when they built the present town.
Wanting to explore our vast wide land
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