Tag Archive: Flinders Ranges


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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IMG_9008“Here Comes The Sun” sang softly to me from my phone, waking me from my slumber. The night had not been restful though. Wave after wave of Flinder’s Mosquito’s dive bombed me every ten minutes or so. Just enough to disturb my attempts at sleep, and when I did manage my way to unconsciousness, I awoke soon after with throbbing bites the size of almonds.  5AM finally finished the Mozzie onslaught and I arose in a stupor, keen to take on the day. Anything to remove myself from this Mozzie nightmare.

IMG_9026With the sun yet to make an appearance, we headed off towards Brachina Gorge. Today’s walk  will be Terezona to Aroona Hut. On the road we ran the gauntlet of kangaroos and rabbits skitting across the road all the way to the trail head. The pre dawn drive was interesting with kangaroos feeding along the roadside and many sitting on the road with little intention of moving along very quickly.  Our strike rate for today would end up being “zero”. Quite amazing considering the dozen or so Roo’s every kilometre. The Heysen Range standing proud with it’s striped bands of glowing ochre in the early morning sun as we headed north to Aroona Hut.

IMG_9035Quite an easy going track in the undulating terrain amongst the native pines and the wattle, with Emu’s and Kangaroo’s a plenty. The Roo’s maybe a bit shy, but the Emu’s are still pretty dopey.

The gentle track soon challenged us a little with an increase in grade. Uphill we went, topping out at above 550 metres. With the sun’s heat now beating down on us, it got a little more challengin g. The trail down the hill was welcome, although still a little uncomfortable without the refreshing breeze at the top of the hill. Once on the access track roughly following the creek, we “roller coasted” up and down before reaching today’s destination, Aroona Hut.

After downing an icy cold beer and a snack, we chatting to some other visitors, before heading off. With this walk done we have just one more to go to finish the 1200km trail.

I have to add, that like many parts of the Flinders Ranges, Trezona has quite the geological past for those interested.

Trezona to Aroona Hut.

Distance :14.3kms.

Speed :5.2 kms.

Terrain: Open woodland. Good track, Rocky in places. Two moderate hill climbs.

Elevation: 315 up and 300 down

And……the rest

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A view of where we will be walking. From way off to the left to the bottom of the hill where this road goes

After a year in the wilderness of the city, work, house, responsibilities, family and kids, I finally find a few days spare to return to the place of my heart.  Mile by mile heading north, the cars, buildings, and people become fewer and fewer, as does all of the “stuff” in my head.  Some have suggested that there is not much in there most of the time anyway.

A quick stop at Lochiel to say hello to the ladies at Jitter Bean for a delicious lunch, then on to Hawker for a final fuel stop before heading off towards Blinman, and Angorichina.

The next four days will be our final leg of the Heysen Trail from South to North. Walking from Wilpena Pound through to Parachilna Gorge through some pristine Flinders Ranges wilderness.

Day One: Wilpena Pound to Bunyeroo

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Some of our welcoming committee.

First. Compliments to the Adnyarmathanha people for looking after this wonderful land.

Cool morning so far today, even an hour after sunrise when we started the trek.  The wind was blowing quite firm and was pretty cool. The first 1.5 kms around the Wilpena Caravan Park seemed a bit of a chore, so we walked it the previous day when we were scouting out for today’s walk.  Seemed logical and easy to do, and reduced the following days trek just a little.

A nice easy track greeted us this morning with a committee of Grey and Red kangaroos cheering us on. A solitary Emu watching over the proceedings.  We were soon on the ascent up hill albeit quite slight. A rise of about 70 metres over a few kilometres.

IMG_9524With mist cascading over one of the Wilpena peaks, the early morning sun bathed the ridge in a warming glow.  All while we strode on through open grassland in the chilled morning air. The cypress pine’s slowly grew before us, filling our view.  We were soon immersed into this native forest which would be our friend for many a kilometre.

The views of this side of the Pound were pretty damn good. St Mary’s Peak and her companions towered above us for most of our journey today. With some of the trail a little uneven and rocky we had to remember to occasionally stop and look up at the magnificent views.  I nearly did an ankle admiring the view, at least twice. Good hiking boots always save me though.

IMG_9536The first part of the walk peaked at about 57 metres, before we started a long slow descent, albeit a bit up and down.  A very easy walk amongst the pine trees, and the path of red Wilcolo sandstone was at times just like a manicured city park path.

Leaving the Wilpena Pound area we continued on with the pine trees and the red path.

The nice wide track could easily lull you into missing the major right turn on the Heysen Trail.

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“It’s this way”. Yes yes Grant, I can see that.

The other track (straight on) is the Mawson Trail(for cyclists). This would be easy to miss if chatting at the time of passing it. Would never happen would it?

Our right turn took us through the creek and then up the hill, but just before the start of the hill, there was a great little camping spot. Very nice. Clearly some had taken the time to camp there to take in the atmosphere. We were now in the Wilcolo Circuit which will take us up this dirty great big hill and then down again eventually to the circuit check point B7.

IMG_9569We followed the creek for a way before heading up the substantial hill.  The moderate climb on a narrow trail got the blood pumping and cresting the hill we rejoiced in reaching the top.  Looking into this new valley, we stood and pondered. Somewhere down there was our finishing point for the day.

Bunyeroo Valley opened up before us with wonderful views.  We knew roughly where our exit point should be from our elevated vantage point, however the trees obscured our view until we descended into the very bottom of the valley.

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Check Point B7.

Check point B7 revealed itself right next to that big gum tree.   This is where we had to exit the Heysen Trail for the day. We followed the creek down stream on a rough track going west until we found the Bunyeroo Valley road. The end of today’s walk.

We drove up to one of the look outs on the ridge, before cracking a cold beer to celebrate and refresh.  Knowing that there is a cold beer in the car is always a motivating factor when struggling in the last few kms. It always works.

 

In Brief:

Wilpena Pound to Check Point B7 Wilcolo Circiut

Distance: 20 kms

Pace: 5.5kms

Terrain: Forrest walk on a good track. A narrow track up the big hill. A little bit of creek walking also.

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Wilpena to Bunyeroo

Wilpena (at bottom) to Bunyeroo Valley (Top “E”)

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Check Point B4 at the top of the hill

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On our way down to Check Point B7

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IMG_4727There was once a man named Robert Brown. Born in Scotland. Educated in Edinburgh in the field of medicine, but was more obsessed with natural history.  Somehow he found his way into the employ of Matthew Flinders on the other side of the world,….in Australia.  While Matthew Flinders was attempting to find an inlet into the interior of Australia in the upper Spencer Gulf, he marvelled at the dramatic ridge line and mountains of which piqued his interest for a closer look.  The enimitable Robert Brown went exploring for natural flora and fauna with Flinders and Co in tow, and scaled one of dominant peaks right to the top.   IMG_4641Captain Flinders honoured his resident Naturalist by naming this mountain after him. This is the mountain we will climb today.

We started our trek at the end of Homestead Rd which runs aside Gunyah Creek. as noted in my last post,  It is fortunate though that this “road” exists, as it is one of the few roads to give us access to this part of the trail.

IMG_4678Just as Mount Remarkable was very rocky, so is this trek.  And, just to make it a little more challenging the grass has grown considerably, concealing plenty of potential “sprained ankles” beneath it’s foliage.  Only four or five times did I have a mishap on the loose rocks, saved only by my decent Salomon walking boots.

We wound our way over gentle hills and along Mount Brown creek before starting the first of the steeper climbs towards the summit of Mount Brown. Watch out along the creek as, a Heysen sign or two, are well hidden or missing.  As long as you follow the creek most of the way you should be fine.

IMG_4691The stage from Catninga Tank to the summit is pretty taxing, taking us from 730 mtrs above sea level to the peak at 970 mtrs over a pretty short distance.

The walk is worth it though, with stunning views.  Getting over the rocky outcrop at the top was a bit interesting, as you will see, but once at the top, we had the most perfect spot for lunch. Climb the lookout for the best views.

We had on this day some unusual cloud formations creeping up the mountain enveloping us and disappearing just as quick, and just before we left the summit, a cloud moved in to give a most surreal atmosphere..

IMG_4746The other side of the mountain has a different feel, with a gentle slope (unlike what we just came up) and a winding path through open woodland with plenty of Blackboys, and, if you look close enough tiny wild flowers.  Descending 500 odd metres into the valley floor, we had a pleasant stroll following the creek through to the Pichi Richi railway near Woolshed Flat.  Along the creek near the end the trail is not well marked (a bit overgrown), so keep your GPS or map handy. Once again, not a great issue. Just follow the creek until you reach the bridge.

In Short

Gunyah Creek to Woolshed Flat

Distance : 21.3 kms

Duration : 4 hours 24 minutes

Pace : 4.8 kmh

Ups and Downs :  Elevation Gain = 593 mtrs.  Elevation Loss = 886 mtrs.

And….. the rest

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The last bit before the top of the mountain.

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