My Visual Diary 2021: Flinders Ranges Roadtrip

melanieylang

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Hello friends,

I've been away and often out of mobile service for a few weeks while exploring one of my favourite places. The Flinders Ranges stretch for around 400km north-south from northern to mid-north South Australia, rising out of the plains on the east, and the Spencer Gulf on the west. I grew up in sight of them, and feel connected still.

From any direction, it's a humbling and imposing sight, for at hundreds of millions of years old, they are some of the oldest geological forms on earth. Fossils from the very beginning of life on earth have been found in them, and just looking at the upthrust former sea-bed sedimentary layers gives one a sense of utter irrelevance, as far as human existence goes. Tourists are drawn to them from all over, and although it can be dry, dusty and dangerous, it's easy to see why.

Something interesting happened, the longer we were away from the online community: my GAS evaporated! I took most of my gear with me in a Vanguard backpack: Fujifilm X30 small sensor compact 28-112mm f/2-2.8, Panasonic G85 (main shooter, due to weather sealing), GX9, 7-14mm f/4, 14-140mm mk2, 100-300mm mk2, 20mm f/1.7, Sigma 30mm & 56mm f/1.4, Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro.

Until we reached the Flinders, I used the X30, as it's perfect for my travel snapshots, especially around towns. Then I mostly used the superzoom, because I bloody love its versatility; I occasionally used the other zooms, but the only prime I used was the 56mm. At no time did I wish I had anything different.

As usual, I'll post in batches to keep the thread manageable, but it will probably take me a while to upload everything I plan to. Our trip really starts in the Riverland along the River Murray, so I'll include these preliminary days, as that is also an interesting landscape.

Let's begin!

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melanieylang

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Before this trip, I hadn't visited the locks along the River, but I found the two I saw to be nicely set up for picnicking, and interesting to see in action. This was Lock 3 at a quiet time, and only the pelicans were on duty.
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melanieylang

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Handsome sandstone architecture was the order of the day in the Riverland.
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melanieylang

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The Pines is an historical home in Loxton, high on the cliffs above the Murray. The gardens are always open to the public, but the house was closed the day we visited.
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melanieylang

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New silo art at Paringa, the last river town as you head from SA towards Victoria. Not that we did.
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melanieylang

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Ruined red gum trees along the shore of Lake Bonney are useful habitat for all kinds of birds, and became quite spectacular at sunset.
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melanieylang

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The importance of the ruined shoreline trees around Lake Bonney became more apparent the next day, as the water birds settled in the sun to preen and keep an eye out for something worthwhile to happen.

This was the only time I used the Panasonic 100-300mm mk2 - from sheer laziness, as I often had opportunities to use it, but I'm not a dedicated wildlife shooter.

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melanieylang

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The Overland Corner Hotel, near Lock 4 on the River Murray, between Barmera and Morgan. We only stopped in to gawk, and buy locally made snacks.
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melanieylang

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There are half a dozen locks on the South Australian section of the Murray River, and I got to see one in operation at Lock 4, Overland Corner. They can fit about six or so houseboats, or one large paddle steamer, of which there are a few restored examples on the River. There was a difference in water level of about 4 metres on each side of this lock. (Cross posted to the Show "Boats" thread.)
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melanieylang

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The town of Waikerie is set along the southern bank of the River Murray; we crossed using one of the many 24-hour cable ferries along the Murray, which are a free service as part of the South Australian road transport network. The ferry operators always seem calm and at least moderately friendly, giving every boarding/disembarking vehicle a wave: perhaps their shuttling backwards-and-forwards across the river all day is a soothing job, or one best suited to a certain personality!
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The view from the lookout was won by walking down and up, and then down and up many steps from the ferry area. The ferry is visible in the first and third photos:
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melanieylang

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One of our most appealing campsites was on the River Murray at Morgan, in the conservation park. The peaceful river is at its most spectacular around sunset.

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Camper trailers have become wildly popular here, and increasingly more luxurious (including their price tags) over the past couple of decades. Ours is designed to go on the tray of a utility/truck, but lacking a suitable vehicle we've mounted ours on a farm trailer, which has worked out really well.

The Trayon camper is a very clever design, set/packed up in minutes; the clamshell has the bed in the lid, folding over to become a handy verandah, while the bottom half contains the fridge, stove, sink, lounge and lots of under bench storage. Under the unit, in the trailer, were trailer stabilisers, spare tyres, and firewood. We carried a baby Weber BBQ and other bulky items in the front toolbox. Very little dust or water got in, and there would undoubtedly be even less in a new unit - ours is one of Trayon's early builds, and is over 20 years old.

My partner plans to build a new trailer for the camper, allowing the farm trailer to get back to work.

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melanieylang

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The real highlight at Morgan was seeing the ferry operator's wonderful beardstyle: as we were in the last vehicle to disembark, I complimented him on it, and asked to take his photo.
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melanieylang

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Two pubs stand on either side of the T junction, overlooking the river port of Morgan. Naturally, I saw a sign advertising Captain Morgan rum!
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Lovely reading as usual Melanie.
Good to see the ferries still in operation and not replaced with bridges.

I loved the Murray, but wife and mosquito go hand in hand so wasn't on her favourite memories!
I remember camping in the tent, the setting sun making a gorgeous glow and the mossies descended in trillions :(
 
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melanieylang

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Lovely reading as usual Melanie.
Good to see the ferries still in operation and not replaced with bridges.

I loved the Murray, but wife and mosquito go hand in hand so wasn't on her favourite memories!
I remember camping in the tent, the setting sun making a gorgeous glow and the mossies descended in trillions :(

Just had another look as these. Old towns with "a pub at every corner" are fascinating.
Love the West End with the dog faithfully sitting waiting for its master to finish imbibing and head off home.
So quintessential Oz outback and country pubs.
Thanks Richard. I love the ferries - for a few minutes you get to enjoy water transit for free! We didn't have any mosquito troubles this trip - probably due to time of year, which also meant we could have campfires everywhere we went.

The dog at the pub was the best-behaved member of what appeared to be a boisterous gang of locals, who we saw again when we passed through on our return.
 

melanieylang

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Now we're getting closer to our destination: Burra is a thriving town which rose in the 1800s as a mining town. It is chock full of beautiful architecture, and is now very popular with tourists.
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melanieylang

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We arrived in Burra to discover the AGL RallySA event for classic rally cars was on, so we spent a little time around them. The stages were mainly on private land, so there were no spectator points out of town.
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melanieylang

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Despite having visited Burra many times before, this was the first time I'd seen the famous historic Monster Mine (now closed)!
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