Following the Big Wet - 2011 Trip – Part 7: The northern Flinders Ranges.

Friday, Oct 14, 2011 at 18:41


Next morning we made slow progress with lots of stops for wildflowers, mainly red and blue flowered Eremophilas, quandongs and mistletoe. We had morning tea beside a particularly Heysenesque dry creek lined with stately River Red gums that framed the ranges to the west. At one point the road detoured around what looked like a mining camp. We are always curious when we see the mounds of powdered rock that drilling rigs leave behind – unfortunately not many mining companies put up informative local signage – mostly they just say “Keep Out”.

Entering the Gammon Ranges NP we drove past the park headquarters then paid a brief visit to Weetootla Gorge where we had lunch. At the entrance to the Gammon Ranges NP we stopped to read some signage placed beside some dramatic cliffs. Scouting round in this area Val was delighted to find some grey leafed mallees thickly covered with flowers and swarming with birds. We then headed north towards Arkaroola through some very impressive rugged country. We drove up to the lookout near Arkaroola homestead and were rewarded with some great views in all directions. We’d planned on having an overnight stop at the Village and doing a bit of exploring in the area, and we spent a while looking through some of the informative displays at the visitor centre. But when we saw the bush camp area we were not impressed and felt that there was more concern for profit than visitors, and decided to return to Weetootla Gorge for the night – much cheaper ($6 per vehicle rather than $18 per person at the village) and much more pleasant than the Arkaroola unpowered area.

Our camp in Weetootla Gorge was pleasant, with a small fire and a large mob of emus feeding nearby. There were only three other vehicles there so it was very peaceful. But in the morning we saw some small animal tracks on the ground around the vehicle and realised that finally we were in mouse territory. We had heard stories of mouse and rat plagues in various areas following the rain, but up until now we had not seen any evidence of them apart from one or two mice scurrying across the road as we drove. Now we realised that we would need to be careful by keeping things off the ground and keeping Troopy’s doors closed at all times.

Leaving Weetootla we headed west through Nepabunna, taking in some very scenic country, especially around Italowie Gorge Ck. There were a lot of dry creek crossings and in places the road was hilly and winding but overall in good condition. We also noted for future reference that there were some good camp sites along McKinlay Ck. At one creek crossing there was a big pool of water so we stopped and explored along the banks. While we were there a group including some Troopies pulled up, and as Troopy people do, we had a good chat and “show and tell” session about our vehicles. They were heading for the Simpson and Hay River – hope you had a good trip if you are reading this.

We arrived at Copley about lunchtime and visited the bakery for lunch where among other goodies we had a delicious quandong pie. Then it was down to Leigh Creek for some restocking of supplies and a trip to the laundry at the caravan park there. We had considered going out to Aroona Dam for the night, having camped there years ago. But unfortunately it is now “No Camping” so we decided that the Copley Caravan Park looked more inviting that the one at Leigh Creek. And so it was, the showers were great and our neighbours around the big communal fire cheerful and friendly.

That night while chatting to some of our neighbours we spotted two bright satellites apparently travelling together only a short distance apart. We were puzzled as to what it could be. Val remarked that it looked as though a bit had fallen off the one in front. She was pretty close to the mark – when we logged onto the internet we learned that the space shuttle (Atlantis) had just made its final separation from the space station, and that was almost certainly what we were watching – a little bit of space history. If we had been at home, we would have been inside at that time of night and we would have missed this little spectacle.

Tomorrow we go south into the heart of the Flinders!

J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein
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