Rawnsley Park Station : We had booked to stay at the caravan park at Rawnsley Park Station (RPS) for 3 nights, however, in the end we extended our stay to 11 nights. There is so much to see in The Flinders Ranges, including WiIpena Pound, a natural rock formation resulting from millions of years of erosion, and many picturesque and ancient Gorges. Rawnsley Park is in an isolated part of the Flinders Ranges, and as such has only satellite communications (Phone, TV and Internet) to the rest of the world including Australia. The high walls of Wilpena Pound blocked standard communications from getting into the Park, and surrounding areas, hence the reason for many folk driving to The Pound to make mobile calls, or to use their lap-tops. Bucko and I were amongst those people, we made a few calls out to family and friends when we where up visiting The Pound.
a plane flight from RPS took us over Wilpena Pound, and the Ranges, a beautiful sight. A hazy start to the day soon cleared, and we were able to see the Ranges in a soft golden light.
Glass Gorge, I drove off road, along an ancient and rugged river bed, through stunning Glass Gorge, where (while I was driving), we spotted a rare Red Footed Wallaby, who scampered off, up the side of the road before I could get a photo. I was however able to take a picture of a Grey Wallaby, this creature was not shy at all, and did not even move as the car crept slowly along beside her, and her Joey. The track to Glass Gorge runs north from Blinman and is the original route for drays delivering copper to the railway at Parachilna, it is a pretty rugged road, so I would not like to have been a bullock driver in those days!
Parachilna Road House with it's menu of 'Road Kill' - Kangaroo, Emu etc was a very interesting place, the roadhouse 'sits' right beside the railway and with overflow accommodation (from the Hotel), in old Shipping Containers'. If we had stayed until the evening, we would have been able to sit on a bench outside the pub, to watch the coal train returning from Leigh Creek (in the North), roll on by on its way to the power station at Port Augusta. The train consists of some 180 trucks, 3 km in length, and takes about 5 minutes to pass.
A walk into Wilpena Pound, took us to where the original station farmhouse, which belonged to the Hill Family, still stands; along with a few items used on the station. The walk in is along boardwalks (which are over the river), and rough paths, along the way we came across a few Wallabies just doing their thing, they didn't even look at us humans! There is now a Heritage Protection on the area surrounding the old house.
Arkaroo Rock , an important Aboriginal art site in the Flinders Ranges features ochre and charcoal images depicting the creation of Wilpena Pound. The circuit walk to the cave drawings was so beautiful, a bit rocky, but well worth the climb. We met a friendly traveller, on his way back down, who advised us to "take the path to the left when you get to the fork in the road, as it was much easier to climb". Good advice.
Sacred Canyon, a small chasm where ancient Aboriginal rock engravings are found on sandstone walls, however the carvings were very hard to photograph, so we took none. At the end of the chasm was a very high rock wall, with a THIN ledge, Bucko climbed the wall, then came back to tell me "if you don't come come up here, you will be disappointed, there is a massive OLD River Red Gum, which I know you will like to see." So, up I climbed. It was worth it. Bucko stood inside the burnt out trunk of the, still surviving tree, just to give a bit of perspective of how high this tree is. The return trip back to our car, was rather scary for me as I started to slide off the edge of ledge!!! Thank goodness, my hero was there to save me.
The Cazneaux Tree, This magnificent River Red Gum was photographed by a renowned Sydney photographer, Harold Cazneaux in 1937. The photograph, titled 'Spirit of Endurance', gained international recognition. The tree is about 700 years old and is still sprouting new branches; fire, drought and floods seem to not impact on the wonderful River Red Gums.
Old Wilpena Station, lies within the park only a few kilometres from the Wilpena Pound Resort. An important pioneering pastoral run, Wilpena Station was established in 1851 and had a working life of 135 years, before it slipped into retirement. The station finally ceased operations in 1985 when the Hunt family's (they were the last pastoral lessees) lease expired. It was purchased by the government and in 1988 dedicated as an addition to the park. Today the Old Wilpena Station Historic Precinct is one of South Australia's most significant pastoral settlement sites due to its fine condition, wealth of heritage and spectacular setting. Preserved at Old Wilpena Station is the most complete group of early station buildings surviving in South Australia in an authentic pastoral landscape. It was interesting walking around this old station, the sight that took our eye was the tree with the fence posts in it? The posts have been there for over 100 yrs!
Bunyeroo Valley and Gorge, a very scenic drive through the valley with views of the impressive Razorback Ridge, with various lookouts along the way. At the end of the valley, after passing the old stockyards of Yanyanna, which was the central point in the Aroona pastoral run, we then followed the creek bed to pass through Bunyeroo Gorge. It had rained a few days before we took this drive and water was in the creek, a bit of mud sliding took place, but we handled it ok, I am glad to say, Bucko was driving. The photo to the right is of the ABC Range, taken from the lookout, before we went down in to Bunyeroo Valley. The road was dirt all the way and from other campers we had heard it was a tad scary when they drove through, after the rain a few days before!
Brachina Gorge is one of the park's most popular and spectacular tourist attractions. The gorge is an important refuge for the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby as well as many species of birds and reptiles. The Brachina Gorge Geological Tour is a 20 km self-guided trail that passes through 130 million years of earth history. This gorge just blew us away! Along the drive are signs detailing how old the rocks are in each particular section, how they were formed and what they consist of. We felt like time travellers, it certainly puts things into perspective, we are on this earth for only a mini second! Ref: Flinders Ranges National Park
Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary : While at Rawnsley Park we decide to leave our van and drive the Land Cruiser up to Arkaroola for the night; we had booked a basic motel room, and it was very basic, ratty edged towels and freezing cold room, with no heating! Oh well, we did want a rustic experience and we got it! The reason for us going to Arkaroola was to take the very much talked about, Ridge Top Tour. The trip to Arkaroola took us the better part of a day, with a bitumen road to just before Blinman, then it was dirt the rest of the way. I had decided to drive, so off we set, cruising along the road in the early morning sun, until we came over a hill. EEEK!! A huge Red 'roo came bounding diagonally across the road, in front of our car! Fortunately I had not been driving fast, and I was proud of myself, I very slowly and calmly put the brakes on and slowed down, the 'roo bounced off onto the grass and kept on going. Just that morning, I had commented to Bucko, "we have seen all the animals (for the Flinders), which are listed in the brochure, except for the Red Roo." Well, I got my wish, scared the heck out of me! The Ridge Top Tour was simply the BEST, very, very rugged and only for experienced 4WDrivers, at times we seemed to be teetering on the edge of the cliffs! All extremely exciting, and exhilarating, we LOVED it. Although we only travelled 21kms it took us 5hours to get there and back, we stopped for afternoon tea at the tip of 'Sillers Lookout' - aka 'The Top of The World'. To get to the top of the lookout, the driver had to really 'gun' the engine and told us to hang on tight, the road was almost vertical! At the top was the other 4WD with the six passengers, there was JUST enough room for the two cars and not much besides! Where is this paradise you may be asking? Located 600km north of Adelaide and 130km east of Leigh Creek, and in the ruggedly spectacular northern Flinders Ranges, this 610sq km multi award-winning Wilderness Sanctuary, is operated by the Sprigg family. Reg Sprigg, was an incredible person, he was the founder of Arkaroola and Eco Tourism (amongst many other things) in Australia; please follow the link and check out this amazing man, I promise you won't be disappointed: http://www.arkaroola.com.au/sprigg.php. The park contains some of Australia's most spectacular mountain views and offers numerous Advanced Ecotourism accredited guided tours. Arkaroola features rugged mountains, towering granite peaks, magnificent gorges and mysterious waterholes, the home to over 160 species of birds and the shy and endangered Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby. Ref: Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary