IMG_9635The Flinders Ranges is a very special place.        A geological wonder on display with secrets hidden in plain sight. The mere sight of it’s majestic and proud sculptures contrasted against the vast Aussie azure, will silence the most hardened city dweller.

The backbone of the Flinders rises out of the endless flatness of the Eyre and the Willochra. Worn by the passing of time and the elements, the ranges are a mere shadow of what they once were. Even so, the dramatic remains are still impressive standing tall and proud.

IMG_9623Most however, will look but not see.   If only those would stop for a moment to marvel and wonder at how this geological masterpiece came to be.   Even some of the ancient local rock art is unknown to the more recent inhabitants. You know, the ones who have been here for the last 40,000 years or so.

Our last walk takes us to the end of the Heysen trail at Parachilna Gorge, and like all journey’s,  is looked on with great anticipation, but this one also with regret.  Regret, that by the end of the day, our many years on this journey will be finally over.

IMG_9625We kept to “business as usual” for this walk. Prepping all our gear, food and water the night before. Even so, we ended up managing to forget some things. Seems to be innately human to miss something, or perhaps I am just not quite as clever as I think I am.

The following morning we rose well rested and after a hearty bacon and eggs breakfast (Heysen Trail traditional), we set off once again to play with the Kangaroo’s and the rabbit’s.  The morning parade of Kangaroo’s was at it’s best this morning, with mobs left right and centre. Very sensible they were though, giving us room to pass with no harm.

IMG_9611Another perfect day in the Flinder’s was dawning as we neared our starting point.  The sun had breached the far off horizon while the cool breeze freshened up our early morning languor. By the time we got our selves organised the bright sun stood alone in the bright blue, “big” Australian sky.     We were now about to commence our last walk to complete the Heysen Trail. We paused for a moment to suck in the occasion, standing amidst the weathered hills and majestic mountains, as well as the old Eucalypt men of the Aussie bush. We were apparently still chilled from the early morning air it seems.

IMG_9631Wandering up the small rise on our start we checked the ruins of Aroona before heading off proper on the trail. The gentle open trail we started on is a little deceiving and is not indicative of the full walk ahead.  Although not challenging in gradient, it is quite long and very rocky in parts. The trail is also not well marked in the creek we were to walk in.

On our left, the ever commanding Heysen Range towered above us.  As if sitting on a throne watching it’s pilgrims pass by in a never ending parade of obedient subjects. We silently payed homage as we passed by.  The “junior” ABC Range on the right was still big enough to command some respect also.  We humbly walked on, in the shadow of both giants.

IMG_9639A bit up and down for the first six kms in open woodland with plenty of Pines eking out an existence in red rock of the Wilcolo sandstone.  Our trail slowly dragged us up hill 200 metres topping out at 585 mtrs above sea level.   After that it was all down hill. Almost. Good smooth track. Then rocky track. Good smooth creek, and then rocky creek.

The trail wound it’s way through the open woodland, in and out of the creeks until our final crossing of Five Mile Creek.  Leaving the creek we headed up hill to the right. The trail markers progressively becoming more sparse as we headed into the next gully.

IMG_9667The trail now basically followed Wild Dog Creek, however we were mindful that a “hard left turn” was coming up further along, and as it happened my GPS had run out of charge and guess what items I’d forgotten to bring? Yep the spare batteries. With my GPS now flat we had to re-acquaint ourselves with some old fashioned orienteering with the map.  All seemed fine for quite a while, in spite of the fact the Heysen signs had left us. We knew we would be following Wild Dog Creek for no more than about 3km’s before turning,  so when we hit the 3k mark we stopped to assess our lack of Heysen Trail signs.

IMG_9682It appeared that the hard left turn had eluded us at some point “back there”, and we were off the trail and still in the creek.  We knew pretty well where we were but had not seen any trail markers for the last kilometre or so.   A quick scan of the map and the immediate terrain gave us our likely location and off we went up the rise to the left, meeting the trail again having only missed it by a smidge.   Ps the “hard left turn was in actual fact a gentle left.  The creek turns right and the trail goes fairly straight.

IMG_9704Once over the rise and into the final gully, the last section (as always) seemed to go on for just “ever”.  “Surely this next corner/rise should reveal the end” I said many many times. Rocky creeks are always tiresome and this one was no different.  Finally seeing signs of the end(“see I told you it was around this bend”), Grant strode off confidently while I paused to take a few pictures and soak in the moment. Delaying the finality of our journey just a little while longer.

Triumphant at the end, we breached the stairs with a whoop and a yell!

Or, did we?

I’ll leave you all with three possible endings to our “most excellent” Heysen adventure.

 

Distance: 19 kms

Speed: 5.1 kph

Terrain: Wide track and rocky creek walking.

Altitude: 194 metres up hill, and 330 metres descending to the end.

And a few more sights……

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That lovely sight of my car at the end of a walk. Always means a cold beer.

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Aroona ruins

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Wilcolo Sandstone

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Would have loved to see the water that did this.

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Token offerings for the Heysen Trail Gods?

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Wild dog creek missed turn

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