Day 40 to 45 of our Big Trip of the Simpson and now the Flinders Ranges

Sunday, Aug 09, 2015 at 17:59

Member - Matwil

DAY 40 Sunday 2nd
Well we didn't get to see the Swans win but watch the scores climb on the iPhone. WHAT FUN???. As we were in the camp kitchen we decided to veg out and watch a bit of TV, the first since we were first in Broken Hill. Oh how long ago that feels. The drive north of Hawker towards Wilpena is truly beautiful as you continually get the backdrop of the Flinders ranges. Its only 100ks but with us stopping every now and then at all the lookouts, the trip took a lot longer than an hour. We finally got to the Wilpena Resort at about 1pm,had lunch and then set up the tent. They have a very large campground so we picked a nice spot to set up. Once that was done we set off for a 7 KLM walk to Hills Station and a lookout.



The walk is through a very lovely gorge. Louise was hoping to see some wild life, but unfortunately there was none. We arrived at Hills Station. It is a stone house at the beginning of the Pound. On signs there are extracts from a diary of one of the women who lived out here in the 1850’s.It is a story of extreme hardship. The final part of the gorge to the Station is very narrow with steep sides. The men made a road through the gorge so they could cart the produce out. They did the work by hand, and when you see the terrain you start to appreciate how hard and long it would have taken. Then the rain came and washed all the work away. So you have to start again from scratch. One of the other interesting things I learnt was that the reason so many farmers failed in the drought was due to the fact they had over grazed the land. This was not their doing as the government in Adelaide set the rents for the leases at a figure they determined by calculating how much stock should be carried, and of course not knowing the land they based their calculations on British farming methods. Initially when the farmers went out to the pound and other remote areas it wasn't an immediate problem as there had been a lot of rain over the years before and the land was lush and green. But reality struck when the drought arrive in the 1860’s and many farmers went broke. One entry in a diary at Wilpena was that the stench of rotting flesh was everywhere and you couldn't get away from it.


It makes me reflect just how little politicians and the beaurocracy have learnt from the annuls of history. Still today we see the powers that be in the big cities determining what people in the outback should do or not do, with little understanding of the real issues people in the outback face. It gets words as most of the population of our country are now city based and they have even a lesser understanding.

At the back of the house there is a steep climb to two lookouts that give you a view over the gorge. We climbed to both of them and I must say was well worth the effort. As it was getting late we set of for the camp ground and got there just on sunset. As we were fairly buggered after the walk we decided to do the sunset shots tomorrow. We pulled the tops off two tinnies and settled down. We had no firewood and it was very cold, but we were tired to turned in early.

DAY 41 Monday 3rd
We were up next morning, had breakfast and set off for a driving tour through the range that takes you through several gorges, and also a trip called the Geological trail. The first part of the drive provided us with some stunning scenery as there was a lot of cloud, mist and rain showers around. Great for photography. iN this blog I am only uploading iPhone photos. So far I have taken over 5000 photos and have had no time sorting or developing them. Or those who wanted to know what I will be going in my retirement other than painting the house… now you know.
The Geological trail is one that takes you from one side of the Flinders ranges to the other. This provides a cross section of the geology which date from about 450 million years ago to 650 million years ago. This is what makes the area so spectacular. We also went through the Brachina Gorge which is another spectacle in itself.


WE got back to the campground in late afternoon and went to the shop to refuel ($1.52 a litre) stock up on supplies and buy a bag of firewood. (you cannot scavenge fire wood in this area). After last night we were having a fire. We settled down after lighting the fire and had to give the sunset shots a miss because there was too much cloud and no colour. Anyway the beer and company was good and there will always be tomorrow.

Day 42 Tuesday 4th
Next morning we were up(woken up with a wallaby with joey scratching on the side of the tent) and packed up and on the road by 11am. Must have slept in. Our next stop was to be Arkaroola

Well we thought we had seen it all until we came across the first lookout. WOWEE. Spectacular…. But then the next one was better. When will this stop the senses are becoming overloaded with the stark beauty of this place. We got to Blinman (the highest town in SA) at about 1pm and there was a sign “Home Made Pies – Made today on our Premises” so we had to stop and check it out. In the end we bought two pasties… they were delicious and one end had apple in it… so it was different but very tasty…We then set off to do a circular drive of the Parachilna Gorge and the Glass gorge…. Both 4WD tracks. Again more spectacle and well worth the effort. At about 3.30 we were back on the highway to Arkaroola. The country now became more open but there were those mountains ever in the distance that made the drive a feast for the eyes. AS we drove on we saw spectacular hills in the distance. A quick check of Hema Maps told us is was Mount Chambers and the Mt Chambers Gorge….. well we have to see that. To make it better there is bush camping there as well. We turned off the highway and negotiated a 4WD track in. The scenery while different to what we had experienced the previous few days was in itself spectacular. Reminiscent of some of the scenery you see in the American deserts. We like the feel of this place so set up camp we are going to stay here two days. We found a nice private spot where there was a fire place and set up. The wind was cold so I got a fire going as we now had our own wood. In this gorge are aboriginal rock carvings so we will explore them tomorrow.

Day 43 Wednesday 5th
Well up early again 8am, breakfast and then set off on a walk up the gorge to find the carvings. This area has great significance for the local aborigine people and is part of their dreaming country. We walked up the first gorge to find a huge amount of etching rock art. This is were the figures and signs are picked into the stone walls using a sharp stone. Different to the ones we saw at Mutawintji but still very significant, some very old and others not so old. One particular Area was covered in art and a look at the river flow told you why. It was a large area protected from the elements and would have been an ideal meeting place as well as a place for ceremonies. The interesting thing is that many of the symbols are the same as the ones of Mutawintji.



What gets my goat when I visit these places that have deep significance for the traditional owners, is the mindless graffiti that some people have seen fit to etch into the stone. I wonder what they would do if the traditional owners desecrated their place of worship or their home.

We then explored the other gorge which also was spectacular and then went back to camp for lunch. AS I write this Louise is off photographing wild Sturt Peas. Once I finish this then I will start to try and get some order into all the photos we have taken to date.
We will head off tomorrow and explore the Nantawarrina Indiginous Protected area if we can get a permit (which should not be hard) then onto Arkaroola for more exploring. Once we have finished in the ranges we will head off to Innamincka and the Coongie lakes travelling up the Strzelecki Track.

Day 44 Thursday 6th
WE finally arrived at the Vulkathunha Gammon National Park which is the upper Flinders Ranges, and bordering it is the Nantawarrina Indiginous Protected Area. We arrived at Nepabunna and were able to get a permit to enter the indigenous area and a camping permit for two nights. It was at the ranger station that I discovered that this is the homeland of Adam Goodes. The history of the aboriginal people of this area is indeed intrieging giving history elsewhere.
The traditional owners of the whole area is the Adnyamathanha people. This group is I believe a grouping of about four language groups that have occupied the area for over 40,000 years. They have a very strong cultural heritage that is still apparent today. When the white man came to their lands, the Adnyamathanha people blended with the Europeans becoming station hands and workers for the pastoralists, even becoming proficient in English. But they did not forget their heritage or culture or their languages, so it all lives on today. Another interesting fact was that during the first World War when all the men went off to Europe to fight, the Adnyamathanha people managed the stations and looked after them until the owners returned.
The first lands in Australia to be handed back to the original owners as protected lands was this area in 1998. In addition the South Australian Government recognized the bond with the land of the original owners and the Adnyamathanha people jointly manage the Vulkathunha Gammon National Park with the National Parks department. To me this is a win win for all as it recognizes the true custodians of the land while allowing us new comers to appreciate it as well.

It was late afternoon we found our camp spot at a place in the protected area called Irish Well Hut or Nantawarrina. It is a lovely spot between the hills. The rangers are restoring the old hut out here which is made from timber slabs and the gaps filled in with daub. Its work in progress but when finished people will be able to rent it to stay. We lit a fire and settled in for the night.


Day 45 Friday 7th
Staying in the camp ground near us a three other groups of people who are bird watchers. Today we set off to walk one of the gorges in the area which is named Waukla Woodna Gorge. The twitchers left before us so we ran into them during the walk. To walk down these gorges with the hundreds of magnificent River Red Gums and the rich red rock hills is truly amazing. In the walk I took just on 400 photos and I don't think any of them will capture the real essence of this place. I can understand people who grew up in this area having the affinity with the land that they do. Both Louise and I feel the land talking to us as we explore the gorges and the surrounding country side. We are indeed just small players in a scheme that is much bigger than us.


We are back at camp now in the early afternoon. We have run out of bread so we are trying our hand in making some in our camp oven. We are cheating a little as we are using bread mix, but who cares. Tomorrow we will set off for Arkaroola but before we do will drive out to Lake Frome. The drive out there is through a traditional hunting and Cultural use zone for the Adnyamathanha people, so we can only do it between the hours of 9am and 3pm. Then off to Arkaroola for fresh supplies and hopefully a long awaited hot shower.
The bread turned out fantastic. We are getting very good at this camp oven cooking over a hot stove.


Sorry for the large number of blogs but we have not had internet connection or phone connection for over a week. We are in Leigh Creek at the moment (Sunday Night) but you will have to wait till the next blog for the details of yesterday and today.
Wanting to explore our vast wide land
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