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%).