In honour of our state leader and his green dream
In honour of our state leader and his green dream
The night before our walk, Malcolm was doing his best to warn (or scare) us about the walk through to Eyre Depot. He had heard many a tale of heart ache and tears, so just in case there was a smidge of truth to his tales, we decided to leave a little earlier giving us sufficient time for any unforseen outcomes. (code for stuff ups and slip ups).
We managed a pre 8am start at Buckaringa Gorge in the cool and cloudy morning. Armed with plenty of equipment for the day. Variable clothing to cope with Melbourne type weather (You know, four season in one day), topographic maps, Heysen book, GPS, and plenty of food and water. We headed off with much confidence that we could tackle anything this day, and as it turned out, we needed most of what we took.
A few gems along the way though with a white Kangaroo stopping to say hello, some interesting rock formations and plenty of flora with splashes of colour among the green and ochre. We made our way in and out of the creek meandering uphill slowly but surely.
The five K mark rescued us from the creek and we headed up the hill above 500 metres. Up another hill, and up another hill, until finally atop the ridge which would take us all the way to Mount Arden, 12 K’s in from the Gorge.
The panoramic views in all directions opened up bit by bit as we topped each hill. The higher we got the windier it got also. We had been warned that the ridge is windy and usually in spite of any calm weather down below. So we were prepared with arctic style tops to fend off the icy blasts.
The ridge meandered left and right and up and down a little, before the final push up above 800 metres, to the summit of Mount Arden. At the top the wind was even more intense and absolutely relentless. It was only a short stay at the peak, to catch our breath and snap a few photo’s, before descending down the southern slope back to a more tepid temperature.
The drop is quite dramatic, but very tiring. I certainly would not want to be going up this section though.
Just after we saw horizontal ground again, the terrain opened up to a lazy creek with majestic old Gum’s and what looked like manicured lawn area’s either side. Every bit the public city park, but smack dab in the middle of the bush.
This is Mount Arden South camp site, and was very clear why it was here. Fantastic spot, so we stopped for a break, having lunch and resting in the natural beauty of the surrounds.
We headed off again refreshed, and wandering along the idyllic creek setting, we were easily lulled into the comfort zone in these gentle surrounds.
The easy walking was not to last though. After a few more K’s the terrain turned back to the “obstacle course” of rocky tracks and in and out of the creek again. It seemed to go on for like, “evar”. Pretty dramatic scenery, but pretty wild I have to say, and one of our more challenging walks.
Just when we thought we were nearing the end, the trail took us up the side of a very steep hill. So steep it had rope to hang onto. Great view at the top, but at this point we were a bit shagged to really care too much. Once back in the creek we meandered our way through the canyon until coming to a rather steep waterfall. No water flowing over it, however it was much too steep to climb down, so we back tracked to where the trail actually leads up the hill and around the falls.
A rocky dirt road (twisted my ankle here) took us eventually out of the hills and onto the plain at Eyre Depot.
The last 3 kms to the car seemed like the longest leg though. Funny how it is quite regularly the case.
Ps. The gate that we had passed through at Eyre Depot to drop the car off, now had a sign saying, “Trespassers will be prosecuted”.
The walk in to Eyre Depot is now 6 kms, not the 3 that we did. Best bet though if you are not doing an overnighter would be to get Malcolm from the Argadell’s to take you through Thompson’s Gap for a drop off or pick up.
Buckaringa Gorge to Eyre Depot
Distance : 27 kms (with an additional 3 km walk out)
Duration : 7 hours 1 min walking time. 2 hours 12 mins worth of breaks.
Pace : 4.3 kph
Terrain : Track (20%), steep hills/ridges(30%), and creek walking(50%).
We arrived in the dark on a dusty red track with thick scrub all around. An old blue tractor lit up in our headlights as we came upon the open grassy spread at the Homestead. It was only in the early morning light on the following morning that the dark veil was lifted revealing the oasis that is the Argadell’s. A picturesc Flinders property to relax and explore. More about the Argadell’s later.
This trip will see us do two days of quite challenging walking. The logistics of start finish points without doing an overnighter is, well, also challenging. Our agreed plan was to walk from Eyre Depot to Dutchman’s Stern on day one, and then walk from Buckaringa Gorge back to Eyre Depot on day two. We will leave my car at Dutchman’s Stern and then drive to Eyre Depot, leaving my trusty companion’s car there for the day and overnight. The following day we will drive to Buckaringa Gorge, before walking back to Eyre Depot where Grant’s car would still be waiting (we hoped). Simple enough, and to our surprise, it also worked. Go figure!
A 3 km walk-in to the Heysen trail to start at Eyre Depot got us warmed up for todays trek. Not that it was needed as this section of the trail is challenging enough without the extra K’s. We strode along adjacent the ranges with the plain stretching out along our right, almost as far as we could see. The salt bush only giving way to the occasional depression of the salt lakes. It wasn’t long before Grant, (the lizard magnet), nearly squished a bearded dragon underfoot. Completely missing it visually as well as orthopedically!
Our direction and landscape soon changed as we headed into the foothills with some moderate climbs along the track. It wasn’t too long before we left the pretty rugged fire track only to enter a pretty rugged creek bed. This creek trail was to be our companion for most of today’s walk, and I use the term “trail” only very loosely. Now deep into the canyon ,we heard some crashing through the bush and some bleating going on. thinking it was some harmless wild goats just looking for a feed, we took no heed.
Suddenly though we were ambushed by what I can only describe as, a small agile group of “terrorist” goats, who attempted to “take us out” by rolling boulders onto our heads. If it were not for my lightness of foot, I would have copped one shoulder height. It was big enough to do some serious bone crunching, flesh tearing damage. I can clearly move quickly when my life is in danger it would appear.
One of the goats(clearly on recon) trailed us for the next 3 or so kms, before clearing off over a hill, once we had id’d him in a clearing.
Anyway, we struggled on over boulders, loose stones, trees, and rocky ledges. It was slow going heading upstream towards the Dutchman’s Stern, but once into the guts of it, there is no turning back. Tough as it is though at times, it is always amazing.
Still a bit of water in the creek with life abundant. Including lots of taddies. Truly amazing that frogs can survive here over the long months without rain, only to spawn thousands of tadpoles when it does rain. Very cool.
The trail got steeper and more cumbersome before we finally emerged up a steep incline onto a much more civilised track. Once out of the creek we paused to reflect our journey so far.
After cooling off with a head soaking, and with the Stern now in full view we paced out the last few kms on the road to the Dutchman’s Stern accommodation. With numerous Kangaroos , just lazing about with the family waiting for us to take their photo’s, we said hi, snapped a few, and walked on.
The car park which was only 3 dozen paces away was where my lonely car was waiting with a very special cargo inside. Two ice cold beers! They always taste good at the end of a walk and sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps me going over the last few K’s. It’s the old carrot trick. Self imposed I know, but it works every time.
This walk was tougher than it looked on paper. Would have been easier walking the other way, but was not an option for us. If you can manage the logistics, I would suggest walking from the Stern to Eyre Depot.
Eyre Depot to Dutchman’s Stern
Distance : 17 kms (with an additional 3 km walk in)
Duration : 4 hours 15 mins walking time. 1 hour 17 min worth of breaks.
Pace : 4.7 kph
Terrain : Undulating hills(25%), steeper hills(20%), and creek walking(55%).
WUWT takes a look at SA’s energy madness.
Our situation will only change when enough South Aussies make enough noise about this. Make some noise people.
For some background info to our energy market, see https://eyesonbrowne.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/time-to-make-electricity-cheaper/
Got this in the mail on the eve of election day. The Lib’s must be worried.
Still a little sore from our previous day’s epic 34k walk. However, our spirits are high with our task today to conquer the “Wilpena wall” and for me to revisit Ikara after a 39 year absence. A meeting place for sure. A convergence of time and memory. Our journey today takes us from Moralana Drive through Blacks Gap, up the wall of Wilpena and into the Pound via Bridle Gap. 15 kms to finish off a week of Heysen trail walking in the Flinders.
Vague memories flood back as we wander the trail. Mostly not memories at all, just feelings and sensations of familiarity. A sense of comfort. Like coming home after a long journey. The connection through time though, cannot be explained, only experienced. The heart of this land clearly lives within me. Though I only dwell in this reality for short periods of time, my soul appears to be connected to the land.
Black Gap road, broad and flat, soon transforms into Bunbiniyunna creek. I guess not too surprising as the creeks are the highways of the bush. The walls either side soon steepen as we reach further into the gap. Familiar colours return beneath our feet and by our sides. The richness of this natural gallery on show in the cool silence of the morning. Only a sliver of light and warmth penetrating into the depths of this ancient bed.
We soon emerged from the creek, bathed in full sun and slightly daunted by the scale of the climb ahead. Little did we know that what we could see, was hiding the hardest part of the climb.
On the narrow path on the side of the hill, I travelled back in time. Once again amongst my peers from Seacombe High. Our very fashionable 70’s gear seeming out of place in this environment, but also, just out of place! But a sense of wonder, along with blissful ignorance of youth made this a great time.
We paced steadily up the hill, stopping briefly at a ridge or two to catch our breath and admire the steadily expanding view. The track to the top is a little vague at times along this section. In scrubby bush, we meandered on and off the trail, keeping a keen eye on our GPS. Looking back at one stage I noticed something a little different about one of the Heysen signs I had just passed. Ordinarily, the arrow points up to indicate straight ahead, yet this one was pointing straight down. Intentional or not, I loved the humour of the directional indication.
Breaching the top of Bridle Gap, with the entry to the park boldly etched in the space, we paused to reflect on our journey from the Elders. Mount Alec and the receding ridge standing tall in our view. It only seemed like yesterday that, ….. Oh that’s right, it was just yesterday.
Looking forward now, and gazing at the ridge to our right we noticed some movement. Contrasted against the bright blue was a very healthy goat, standing proud atop the ridge.
Off again after a short break, with the environment changing around us. Scrubby trees slowly giving way to taller native Pines, and eventually stately Gums dispersed in the manicured grassy land. Lazy Kangas and Wallabies not fussed by our presence, with only the slightest of a stoic glance, soon return to their languid tasks.
Almost as flat as a “Bundaleer pitch” and as curated as a city park, the path wandered though the Pound ending up at the old homestead. We paused to take in a bit of the history before walking the final few kms to the visitor centre and the car park.
A coffee at the visitor was very civil (it was a bit early for a beer), and a bit of lunch finished off a very pleasant mornings walk.
Walk : Moralina Drive to Wilpena Pound
Distance : 14.77 kms
Pace : 4.5 kph
Duration : 3 hours 15 minutes
And the rest……
Today will be a big day. 30 kilometre walk with a 1.5 k walk in through Mayo Gorge. Walking past the majestic Elder Range, we will be trekking through the amazing Arkaba Station. Stunning views, ever changing geology and plenty of wildlife. We will end up at Moralana Drive in between two Titans of the Flinders. Elder Range and Wilpena Pound.
A nice cold 6° and sunny this morning, with “sinister” clouds creeping over the imposing Elder Range. A fresh road kill on the Outback Highway was breakfast to a pair of very impressive Wedge tailed Eagles, as our driver Kym, shared his experience climbing Elder Range.
Feeling a little pensive about our walk today though. I was not feeling particularly well yesterday and with the pending 30 kms through some pretty remote country side, I was not feeling as confident as usual. We were well prepped though, with a days rest before and carrying extra gear and water for any unforseen events. My good lady had also given me some sound advice if we get lost and run out of food. “Eat Grant first” she said. My wife the ultimate survivor!
Fear though, is a funny thing. It is always important to take note of your feelings, but check that the fear is based on something real, and not just an irrational thought. Clearly I was just feeling a bit off, as once we actually got going, all seemed to be ok.
Heading east up Mernmerna creek from Mayo Gorge, we wandered in the creek as we did in Wonoka . The northern edge of Elder Range already quite impressive, followed our left as we snaked along the creek for the next four k’s.
A Wedgy perched atop a nearby hill watched intently as we passed by. Waiting, I am sure, for us to stumble and fall, so he could pick our bones clean. A song popped into my head just at that moment, “The Holy Grail”. That particular line, “And those big black birds, they were circling in the sky”. (Betcha you are singing it right now too). Kinda felt appropriate with the Wedgy watching and waiting, as well as the fact we are on a quest for our own “holy grail”. It stayed in my head for quite a few k’s.
The left hand turn out of the creek was always going to be hard to find, so we kept a keen eye on our distance travelled, and the map. A bloody big fat old Gum with a very little Heysen sign marked our exit from the creek. A short break was in order before venturing up the hill though. We were not looking to break any speed records today. Into Arkaba Station we went. Over the hill and following the track for a while before taking a right down the hill and into a creek again. This time it was Slaty Creek.
Gums and native pines abound with Kanga’s and Wallabies plentiful in this marsupial haven. Steep hills keep watch over the creeks and the gorges, with the ever present Elder Range imposing itself over the entire area.
The occasional stone fireplace still standing as a reminder of a harsher life. The earthy tones continue through the creeks with the surrounding hills contrasting ochre, tawny, and pine against the vivid blue. Smaller creatures, mostly hidden, reveal themselves on occasion.
A young bearded dragon narrowly escaping a hungry crow, while we narrowly miss walking into a massive Orb weaver strategically strung across our path, just waiting for a delirious Heysen Trail walker to stumble in. Face height, I came to within 20 cms of wearing this very ornate eight legged face jewellery.
The creek is pretty easy walking, although following every meander did get a bit tiring. Heysen signs are a bit scarce through here and as it turned out my GPS sent us a little awry out of Slaty creek and into a feeder creek heading the wrong way. Took us 30+ minutes to work out what happened and to get back on track. Very easy to get lost in this hilly landscape. They all look the same. Even checking our direction was no help as the creeks meander from west, to north, then to east again in every kilometre.
After a stop for lunch we, strode on keeping a keen eye on trail markers, GPS, and the map. We were now a bit behind time, and needed to make up some ground to get to Moralana Drive before dark.
I started hearing voices at one point, and in this sacred landscape, thought my spiritual ancestors were breaking through to speak to me, but alas, it was just Red Range camp site, and there was a quite a group. Chatting and having a great time. Now, ordinarily we would be stopping for a chat, but no time to waste today. With this being only our half way point, we picked up the pace.
We paced up hills, through creeks, traversed gully’s and battled through scrubby trees, until we came to the “garden of stones”.
Perfect place to pull up a rock and rest our bunions. The hills we now traversed were comprised of compacted red stone chips, which were devoid of all but the hardiest of plants. How the hell does anything grow in this stuff?
A little further along we crested a hill, and the wonderful Wilipena Pound came into view, meaning we were on the home stretch (albeit a long one). A few more gentle hills and we made our way to the car park at Moralana drive.
Seated between Wilpena and the Elders, we rested our weary bones. A little sore and a bit fatigued, but mind at ease in the peace and tranquillity of the Flinders.
Every thing at peace, except maybe for our taste buds. The crisp bite from that first sip of amber joy, ruminating throughout my body in repeating waves. Ahhhhhhh.
It’s easy to understand the spirituality of this place. As we sat quietly between the majestic Urdlu Warlpunha, and Ikara in the fading light, we breathed in the very soul of this most ancient of lands. Easy to do, especially after a beer. It’s the simple things really. Life on the trail.
Mount Little Station to Moralana Drive
Distance : 31.5 kms (we walked 34kms due to slight detour)
Pace : 4.8 kph
Duration : 7 hours 33 minutes
Calories burned : 4442!!!!!
And a couple extra….
We have been done over by our federal representatives (don’t laugh too loud) once again. Australians voted Labor out because of the Carbon Tax(among other things), and now it appears Turnbull’s Libs are about to sneak in an ETS (Carbon Tax) through the back door.
“Get ready. The legislation was done on the last day Parliament sat in December. The Coalition government knew it would be popular with the voters who all want “carbon action” so they… buried the news. No cheering. No speeches.
It apparently starts on July 1, and applies to 150 companies — about half our emissions. It’s a Cap N Trade system with “Caps” that can be screwed gently down
as the climate warms to fill government coffers and raise electricity prices. The Direct Action plan auctions can be phased out and the SneakTax phased in. It could end up being the main game. A blank cheque.”
Jo Nova has the whole story. Secret deal: Australia already has an ETS – carbon tax – starts in 5 weeks
Here is what happened to electricity prices in Australia from 1955 to 1994 when Australia prospered.
Here is what happened in the 90’s after Hawke/Keating encouraged energy privatisation to “improve competition and make energy cheaper”(I kid you not).
Nations prosper with affordable energy. Without it, they don’t.
Who the “F&%#k” do we vote for now?
Day two in the Flinders Ranges. Crisp cool morning. Clear blue sky. I noticed a couple of clouds to the west just as we drove into Mount Little Station. A reminder of the previous days weather. A lovely spot for camping here at MLS, and Kate whom we had the pleasure to meet, greeted us with typical country hospitality. MLS is the closest accessible road to the Heysen Trail on this section, so here we are. Mike picked us up at the end of the road near Mayo’s Gorge, returning to Leigh Creek Road for the start of our walk. Ps. Thanks Mike for both days drop off’s.
(Leaving the old wagon, we climbed the stile and headed off on the trail, only to take a short break at the original Wonoka homestead. Beautiful stone work with a myriad of colours, with the Yourambulla Ranges in the back ground providing a memorable connection to todays story.
The road meandered through salt and blue bush before we stumbled into the expansive Wonoka Creek. Littered with pebbles and sand, and Redgums scattered in and out of the creek. Wononka hill and the Wide Range giving us a wonderful backdrop for the day.
Once in the creek, we turned north, up-stream, or so we thought. Funny how your senses can occasionally deceive. We were on the trail, but we thought we were heading up stream. Quite clearly the river bed was telling us something quite different. Dead trees and debris on the oncoming side of the river trees, and a sand bank on the trailing edge. Clearly we were heading downstream. It just did not feel like it.
We wandered in and out of the creek, where ever the path looked easiest. The Heysen trail follows the creek all the way to Mayo’s Gorge, so little chance of losing the trail. Except maybe for the spot that Wononka Creek takes sharp left, with a feeder creek going straight ahead. Could have ended up in the Wide Ranges.
Beautiful country with Gums along the river and plenty of green salt bush filling in the surrounds. Still a few skittish Emu’s and Kanga’s not being particularly sociable, heading for the hills at first sight. Did I put on deodorant this morning? Starting to wonder.
The amazing palette of colours in the river bed was stunning. Copper, Amethyst, Azure, Ochre, and Sandstone. Decorating the walls and splashed across the river bed in all manner of fashion. As if a Kindy class had gone crazy with their crayons, or a few thousand Oompa Lumpa’s had died and been sedemented.
Mayo Hut was well appointed, with bunks (with mattresses), a fire place, and even a “loo”. Oh what luxury! Being at Mayo’s hut means that we are almost done. Another couple of “K’s” and we exit through Mayo’s Gorge where Grant’s car is waiting with a nice cold beer. The Gorge was lovely, although lots of jaggard rocks to walk over at the start. Once at the car, we propped up the chairs, cracked open a beer, and just took in the the majestic Elder Range in the late afternoon sun. Cheers Grant.
Leigh Creek Road to Mount Little Station.
Distance : 16.1 kms
Pace : 4.9 kms
Duration : 3 hours, 16 mins
Calories burned : 1934
Elevation : Gain = 247 mtrs. Loss 680 mtrs. (Yep going down hill along the creek)
And, the rest…….
We arrived early in the afternoon on a wet and windy day, with something you don’t see very often out here. Rain, and we saw plenty of it on our way north. Hawker had received 18+mm in a couple of days, which is great for everyone in the bush. It was relatively dry when we arrived, but the wind was still gusting above 50kmh as we would realise when we got to the top of the ridge.
A short walk today of 9 kms, from Jarvis Hill to Leigh Creek Rd. Half of the walk was along the ridge of the Yourambulla Ranges. Climbing the rocky ridge to the lookout, with a panoramic view opening up before us, we shifted our city brains out of gear and just allowed our minds to take in the pleasures of the Heysen trail. A valley to the left gave rise to another ridge standing tall and keeping ours company on the journey north. To the right the flat plain stretched out with incursions of hills, peaks, and ridges seemingly placed delicately to give an interesting view.
The rocky ridge line jutting out at a 30+ degree angle was not the easiest to walk on, particularly when it is a little wet and the wind is trying to blow you off the mountain, repeatedly.
A classic rock overhang gave us some brief respite before battled those gales again. Our pace on the 4.5 km ridge was pretty pedestrian, and although the views were fantastic, we focussed mainly on keeping our footing. I only slipped 4 or 5 times. Thank goodness for sturdy boots.
We shared the trail with a few Wallabies and a couple of hairy goats, all of which were very shy, and disappeared down the slopes as soon as we came into view.
After coming off the ridge we meandered through the scratchy, thorny, stony scrub on a gentle slope before pacing it out along the fence line to finish at the old wagon adjacent the road with many names. Leigh Creek Road/Outback Highway/Barndioota Road/Parachilna Road(all dependant on which map you look at).
One of four walks done. This trip will take in four days of walking with one day break (to rest the sore feet). Today was a easy “break-in” walk of 9 kms, just to get us back in the swing of things. Tomorrow we will up the anti with 15kms, before we tackle the 30+ kms on walk three. Last day will see us do another 15 kms walking into Wilpena Pound. 75 kms in all for the week. We are staying in a comfortable cabin at Hawker Caravan Park for two nights and the rest of the week will be at Rawnsley Park.
Jarvis Hill to Leigh Creek Road
Distance : 9.8 kms
Duration : 2 hours 18 minutes
Pace : 4.2 kph
Terrain: Rocky and prickly
Elevation : Gain = 189 mtrs. Loss = 215 mtrs
Calories burned : 1351
And the rest in pictures.