My Visual Diary 2021: Flinders Ranges Roadtrip

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Another beautiful series Melanie.
Love the earthy colours.

Holden and outback roads. Who needs a 4WD? :)
Looks like you had some dust but not smothered in it.
It's remarkable to think that there was a time before large 4x4 vehicles became the norm for rural exploration - back in the day, all you really needed was reasonable clearance, torque, and nerves of steel!
Beautiful shots and area, Melanie. I'm as jealous as hell!!

I would replace that tyre as soon as possible. Plugga repairs are not permitted in sidewalls! For good reason. If you have to use it, don't go fast.

Is your Adventra the 4WD version?
Thanks John, that tyre was only put back in as a spare for the trailer; fortunately we'd packed two for the car, although a different wheel-related problem arose later, as you'll find out ;)

This is the top of the range V8 AWD version, with most of the luxuries we virtually consider standard kit these days, such as leather seats, sunroof, dual zone climate control, storage bins everywhere, extra power plugs, and I don't know what else! Dual fuel, too, which helped keep costs down when available. For being nearly 20 years old, it's a lovely cruiser.
 
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One of the biggest highlights of the trip was seeing wild yellow footed rock wallabies up close. I learnt that at Arkaroola Village each evening around 5 p.m. nutritional treats are set out on a man-made rock pyramid for the wallabies, providing visitors an easy opportunity to see these beautiful marsupials.

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The park's proprietor, Douglas Sprigg, set out Weet-Bix like treats specially formulated for wildlife, and asked us to stay within the boundaries of the open sided pergola, as the wallabies are very skittish and would startle easily when anyone moved, and likely disappear completely if their space was threatened.

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He quietly called them, "wallabies, wallabies", and within a few minutes half a dozen or so arrived.

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After about 20 minutes with Doug giving an entertaining talk about his experience living with orphaned wallabies, a passerby on a track below the area scared them away, and we were told that they would not be back for at least half an hour.

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In the 1980s and '90s the species was under threat, and I had never seen them in the wild until this trip. Now the population is recovering, and their colonies are less threatened due to control measures of feral cats, wild dogs, and foxes; dingoes in that area also cause a threat. Wild goats are another feral species which encroaches on wallaby habitat, as they have easily naturalized in the rocky environment and compete for food (and no doubt make things unpleasant with their strong odour, which smells like an open toilet when in rut).

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Douglas Sprigg is the son of the original proprietors of the Wilderness Sanctuary, which was started by Reginald Sprigg and his wife Griselda in the late '60s. When they first took over the property, it had been used as a station keeping stock, and they recognised the importance of this area for preservation.

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It was a truly remarkable experience to see these exquisite creatures up close.

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Interesting about the wallabies. I don't recall seeing any when we were in the Flinders late 70's.
Goats! They sure do stink! Remember outback Winton (I think) and you could smell them "a mile off"!
Surely a wonderful experience to see those come for their treats.
 
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Before decamping from Arkaroola, we walked the short, steep incline to Spriggina Lookout. Beside the car was a giant replica of the Spriggina Ediacaran-era fossil, discovered west of here, constructed from rocks and shrub plantings.

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The trip, around 130km, from Arkaroola to Leigh Creek on gravel road saw some of the most traffic we had seen anywhere north of Orroroo, with plenty of 4x4 camping outfits heading in the opposite direction. We arrived in Copley just before the Quandong Cafe bakery closed, and scored some delicious pies for late lunch, and the sweet quandong pies were delicious.

The quandong is known as native peach, and has a flavour and texture a little like a dried peach, only probably less generous! It's an odd little fruit, the size of a large marble, with a large stone wrapped in a thin leather coat, which is the part that's prized for eating. Personally, I'd prefer a peach, but it's an outback institution to at least try it in a pie, or as jam.

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At the former mining town of Leigh Creek, we were amazed to find it barely more than a ghost town. Set up at its present location in the early '80s, it had a population of a couple thousand souls, but with the closure of mining operations a few years ago, only about 150 remain. With deserted streets filled with carbon-copy houses, also deserted, it felt eerily like something from a zombie/apocalypse film. And I didn't get any photos! Sorry.

We planned to camp at Sliding Rock Mine site, but missed the turn off, and ended up back in Parachilna Gorge, with the feral goats.

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The Flinders has its own, naturally-formed geological version of the Great Wall of China (which it's understandably called), also named Mount Emily, south of Blinman, and easily assessed from the bitumen. It's another striking example of ancient sedimentary rocks, turned to point skyward, and eroded down over millions of years to create a prominent, rocky spine.

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Turning around and facing west towards the ABC Range:

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Hucks Lookout faces the Wilpena Pound escarpment.

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Xanthorrhoea australis, grass trees, grow around 2.5cm per year, so you may appreciate that this is an oldie!

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South of Hawker, just west of the bitumen, are the ruins of Kanyaka Station, which was once home to around 70 families.

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Out here, the climate is almost unrelenting hostile, but a number of good years permitted motivated settlers to become well-established.

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Kanyaka is an aboriginal word/phrase meaning place of stone. The cattle station was established by British emigrant Hugh Proby in 1852, who arrived in 1851. Proby died in local floodwaters less than 18 months after arriving in Australia, aged 24; his grave is located some distance in the ranges to the west.

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The station continued operating under different managers, and switched to running sheep. Impressively, the stone shearing shed had 24 stands - it must have been an amazing sight to see the teams at work back in the days of hand clippers.

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Eventually, like so many operations in the outback, severe drought forced Kanyaka to be abandoned, leaving only the relics we see today.

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Melanie I'm really enjoying your illustrated travels.
Certainly a reminder of different lives and the hardships endured.
I expect you really need to be connected to the land (farming) to grasp the enormity of it though.
Tough times, sad times.
40000 sheep in a year. The mind boggles.
The noise, smells and atmosphere of those sheds and living quarters. Can't convey that on the internet! :)
It's not just the enormity of "click go the shears" but the carting of all that wool to the market in pre petrol days.

That (your post) really does speak to the heart of outback life in an era of hope and failures.
 
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From Kanyaka Station, we headed southwest towards our next campsite at Warren Gorge, travelling through scenic pastoral country towards a different section of the Ranges.

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Vermont3133

A New Lens Will Fix It!
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South of Hawker, just west of the bitumen, are the ruins of Kanyaka Station, which was once home to around 70 families.

View attachment 893500

Out here, the climate is almost unrelenting hostile, but a number of good years permitted motivated settlers to become well-established.

View attachment 893501
View attachment 893503
View attachment 893502 View attachment 893505

Kanyaka is an aboriginal word/phrase meaning place of stone. The cattle station was established by British emigrant Hugh Proby in 1852, who arrived in 1851. Proby died in local floodwaters less than 18 months after arriving in Australia, aged 24; his grave is located some distance in the ranges to the west.

View attachment 893504

The station continued operating under different managers, and switched to running sheep. Impressively, the stone shearing shed had 24 stands - it must have been an amazing sight to see the teams at work back in the days of hand clippers.

View attachment 893507 View attachment 893542

Eventually, like so many operations in the outback, severe drought forced Kanyaka to be abandoned, leaving only the relics we see today.

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Thanks Melanie,
Yes Kanyaka is an amazing place. We visited it twice when we were staying in Hawker.
It's tragic the amount of endeavour and resources that went into establishing this place...only for it to be abandoned not too many years later!
 
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Our best campsite was at Warren Gorge, northwest of historic railway town Quorn, where the campsites had been recently upgraded with robust fire pits. Set on the west side of the main range, and east of a low range, the only downside was the sun took a long time to rise, and it was COLD in the morning!

The beautiful 5.6km loop walk started at camp, winding slowly upwards from the creek, through stands of native pine, past xanthorrhoea grass trees, up to the light eucalyptus and native pine forest along the ridge.

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How about the way the tree has overgrown this sign:

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You can see here how the range formed from prehistoric seabed sediment, was thrust upwards 90 degrees, then eroded down to what exists now:

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Although we did see yellow footed rock wallabies at Warren Gorge, I was never ready for action. The highlight for me was actually seeing and hearing this family group of apostlebirds, my favourite dryland species. They came right into our campsite, fossicking for dropped food, walking right between my feet as I held my breath with excitement! They are very funny birds: they walk along the ground to feed, feathers fluffed-up, chattering to each other the whole time.

Note the hexagonal fire pit with swing-out barbecue plate.

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Val Francis is an octogenarian painter who has lived in and near Quorn for many decades, and her gallery in a former bank building shows how prolific she has been. Val was happy to tell us about some of her pieces being used in recent filming of a new international thriller TV series, The Tourist, which was occurring in the region around the time of our visit. Intriguingly, she had decided not to mention this within the local community, in case it all came to nought, which can often be the case in such situations.

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I found the Fawlty-Towers-esque signs at the front door hard to resist:

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Heading southeast from Quorn, we stopped to walk the main street of Hammond, which is about as "wild west" as it gets. Despite the look of desertion, it's definitely inhabited, and has been used for film sets.

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At Orroroo, we grabbed pies and ate lunch near the war memorial, placed on the traffic island:

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Turning south towards Spalding, we passed through the tiny village of Pekina:

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...and Appila:

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Where I also saw my childhood library, parked at its scheduled stop:

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Near Appila, we turned off to visit Appila Springs, which was closed for the season last time we visited.

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There were apostlebirds here, too, but they were very wary of us. Looking up into the tree they were in, I spied an improbably-small mud nest, with two apostlebirds overflowing it:

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In Spalding, we stayed in an AirBNB which was part of the former Uniting Church, now privately owned. Despite the spa being a nice treat, we really preferred our camper. This is not that building, but I didn't get a good shot.

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The next day we surprised ourselves by ending up back at our first free campsite on the River Murray at Loxton, for our final night on the road.

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We had a wonderful time away, and are immensely pleased with our camp setup.

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Thank you for watching and commenting. I hope - especially for anyone not at liberty to travel, for any reason, even a pandemic - that you feel a little like you joined in with our road trip, and hope you'll join in again next time.

THE END
 
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