Got this in the mail on the eve of election day. The Lib’s must be worried.
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.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the seas around Kiribati are rising at 3.1mm per year and they expect this will continue until the end of the century. Making the total rise from 2003, to be over half a metre. Really? The info they used is from the IPCC 2007 report which used data from 1993 to 2003 to get this projection (and it is a global projection btw). Cherry picking anyone? Tide gauge data for Kiribati is available all the way back to 1949, and clearly contradicts the information on display from the UoCS.
The combined tide gauges sea level rate around Kiribati (raw data is publically available) is 1mm per year (my calculation 1949 to 2016).
Here is what the UoCS are suggesting is going to happen, compared to the reality of the data.
And they call themselves scientists.
For reference, here is the updated graph with all the individual tide gauges for Kiribati. Normalised to the Bom 1804 station.
While it may seem obvious that a good hike through a forest or up a mountain can cleanse your mind, body, and soul, science is now discovering that hiking can actually change your brain… for the better!
This will be our sixth year of walking the Heysen trail. It does’nt seem to be that long ago, although, in another way it seems like a life time ago. That cool day in 2011, heading off from Cape Jervis (so long ago it was in B+W).
Well seasoned we now are on the vagaries of the trail. The challenges and the pitfalls that beget a walker from time to time. From blisters, to minor injuries, to getting lost and walking in the dark. Not bringing enough water, mis-calculating the distance (both too short and too long), and missing trail markers (again and again). Getting my car bogged, and oh, there was also the time I left my car keys in Grant’s car (at the start of the walk with my car at the end). No mobile coverage to ring a taxi until we climbed the nearest hill. A number “two” accident with insufficient loo paper, and having to go “commando” for the rest of the walk was less that ideal (albeit very refreshing).
Amidst all of these very human frailties though, lies the beauty of the Australian landscape. The Jurassic cliff views of the un-ending southern ocean while keeping company with Roos and Echidna’s. The ever inquisitive cows and the communal sheep, often looked over by protector alpacas. The rolling hills of wheat and canola. The heavily wooded forests, every bit of the Hollywood scary movie, complete with fog and creepy stillness. The temperate micro climates of the gullies and valleys. With birds and lizards and all other manner of creatures filling in the spaces among the grass trees and the native flowers. The old Gums, engraving themselves relentlessly into the vista, defying time and dominating an all too often harsh environment. The unspoken history on show in the bleached homes of the fading past. Often the only clue as to the harshness of our colonial past.
Life and death is on display without judgement or care. There are no humanistic emotions at play in the bush. It brings life into sharp focus, without the subtleties of relational or competitive politics which forever cloud one’s mind living in the city. The simplicity of survival clears out the irrelevant and redundant, giving clarity of mind and spirit. Oh yea!
Then there is the delightful cafe’s, bakeries and restaurants serving the most delicious Aussie country cooking. Beef steak pies, Calamari, or Roo fillets with Quongdong sauce. Do I need to go on? To accompany such fine food, there is always a fine beverage to elevate the meal to truly memoral. Mclaren Vale and the Fleurieu Peninsula. The Barossa Valley and the Clare Valley, will delight the fussiest of wine taste buds. All this and more, on, or very near the trail.
The mostly unseen beauty of SA is revealed when you walk the Heysen Trail. Much of which is hidden from the more well travelled roads. Plenty of characters on the way too. In the pubs cafe’s and the camping spots, as well as other walkers on the trail. Plenty of country hospitality and friendliness, and they always love a chat. Seems everyone out there has a story, and I love to hearing their history.
The mostly unseen beauty of SA is revealed when you walk the Heysen Trail. Much of which is hidden from the more well travelled roads. So if you have moderate fitness, or are willing to “step up” your training, the Heysen trail is such a joy to experience. Come and see the beauty of South Australia.
2011 – 107.5 kms
2012 – 185.2 kms
2013 – 208.8 kms
2014 – 148.2 kms
2015 – 264 kms
2016 – About to be done.
2016 will see us completing the final leg of this amazing journey. Dutchman’s Stern to Parachilna Gorge. Although the logistics are getting a little more challenging, we are looking forward to seeing the ancient geology on show in the Northern Flinders Ranges. I am also treating myself to a new camera lens to help capture the raw beauty we are about to experience. Our first walk will be Hawker(Jarvis Hill) through to Wilpena Pound over 5 days from May 8th.
I have been really happy to share our experiences and hope it has been an enjoyable read so far. Here I go for another year of looking at the back of Grant’s head.
See you on the trail maybe?
With the passing of a friend, a timely reminder to write your own story. Colin’s story was of a craftsman, loving husband and father. RIP Colin.