IMG_1925South Australia has had some beautifully mild and sunny weather this year, but I suppose it had to come to an end some time, and that time was this week.  Just as the northern hemisphere, in the last week or so, has finally experienced some summer weather, we have finally succumbed to the winter cold and rain.   It was 5°C when I left home, and realising that the forecast was going to be accurate today, I had several layers on, including my “skins” to ward off the pending cold.  By the time we arrived at our start point on Aunt Sues Rd, the temperature had climbed to an almost bearable 8°C or so.

It was clear to me that I would need my (old but still serviceable) Karrimor jacket today.  Amazing that I still only had two thin layers on under my jacket., but then again with a good quality jacket, maybe that’s all you need.

IMG_1927Although the air temp was about 8°C , the 20 kph wind had a chill factor of about 4°C.  This was the moment I wished I had bought that Aviator fur lined cap.  You know, the Canadian trapper type with the flaps that come down over your ears.

There had been a little bit of rain, so the unsealed roads were a little slippery. Fortunately most of them were in pretty good condition.  Lucky, because we had quite a few K’s on the dirt.

IMG_1932Our walk today takes us a fair way on a dirt roads before heading off up the Tothill Ranges. A mere 60 odd metres up, so not too taxing.  Just enough to get the pulse above the ton, and enough to get us quite “toasty”.  Once over the top, we descended to the eastern side walking parallel to the range, well out of the wind.   Walking was pretty easy until we had to once again ascend to the top of the ridge where we had planned to have lunch.  By pure chance we came across a small shelter, complete with seat and water tank, just as it started to rain.   The wonderful people at Friends of the Heysen had erected this very welcome respite, out of the rain and the wind. Well done FOTH.

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Did these residents suffer from “Infrasound?”

Just after lunch we headed over the ridge back to the western side where it was much windier and a whole lot colder.  Felt like the temperature dropped about 5°C and after walking a couple of kms it was still bitterly cold, proof positive of the temperature drop.  I really needed that hat now. My left ear (the one facing west) was about to fall off with frost bite!

Anyway, as we trudged on at five and half kph, Grant, who was leading (he’s not really competitive), startled a sheep which stumbled over a branch and hit it’s head on a log.  It just laid there with it’s head at an awkward angle and shaking it’s legs.   I went over and straightened it’s neck out, checking to see if the sheep was ok. It didn’t look too flash, but it’s eyes were open and not dilated, so being the medico that I am, deduced the sheep had either just knocked itself out, or it was suffering from some other neurological condition that caused it to trip over in the first place.  Either way we had to get a move on and Grant who is so caring, was still standing 3 metres away and was obviously not interested in coming anywhere near the sheep. So IMG_1939off we went.

We had not seen many native animals in the last few walks. We had seen a couple of kangaroos and a rabbit this walk, but to my amazement we spotted a red fox while stopped for a short break. Too cool.  They are very timid, so this was a treat. Too bad its not acceptable to carry a rifle around these days. I reckon I could have put this one down with my Dads 1890’s Winchester 22 pump action. Extra long barrel, making it incredibly accurate over distance. Would have been one less fox killing those cute little lambs, of which we saw some evidence last walk. We saw a lamb with just the heart, lungs and probably the kidneys gone, leaving the rest to rot. I wonder, do foxes do that?

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Not one of the turbines was turning.

Most of this walk takes us parallel to the  Waterloo Wind farm. Pretty stunning they are, like giant sentinels standing guard over the landscape.  They remind me of the ancient Easter Island statues. Hope they turn out to be a little more useful, though I doubt it.  The  30+ windmills costing $300 million to build stood idle this day and according to Windfarminfo and have been idle all week. Funny that the day we walked, the wind was blowing pretty hard, yet not one of them was turning.  So much utilising free energy.  It has since had a 75% stake sold for $228 mil.

Enough about our walk. Back to those dirt roads. It was a little more slippery heading back to Grant’s car from some extra rain in the afternoon, but nothing we thought would be an issue.  We were very wrong.  Got to Grant’s car. He took off, and then I attempted to take off, but with no success. Me wheels were spinning.  No matter what I tried, forward, backwards, No success and now one wheel was very bogged.  Grant finally returned but even between the two of us it was not good and it was now getting late. Fortunately, Jamie at the Marrabel Hotel was very accommodating with his 4WD and towed me out. His two girls were a great help too. Thanks Jamie.

IMG_1865Ps, The Marrabel is a great little pub if anyone is anywhere near there, drop in for a beer and a meal and a chat with the locals. All very typically Aussie country friendly.

In Short

Distance  : 23.85 kms

Duration  : 4 hours 19 minutes + 3 breaks (43 minutes)

Speed     : 5.5 kph or 10.4 minutes per km

Terrain   : Mainly dirt roads, and good trails. A bit rough over the ridge.

Best Part : Seeing the Red Fox

JTF

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