Our recent road trip to the Flinders Ranges in South Australia could best be described as serendipitous. Quite by accident, we found ourselves in the right place at the right time to witness one of nature’s miracles, a once in ten years sort of miracle!
Following extensive and unusual winter and spring rainfall, the dry, red countryside that we expected to find was carpeted with an explosion of wildflowers and greenery. And this carpet was not just here and there, but stretched for hundreds of kilometres, from Nyngan
to Broken Hill
and from the South Australian border
all the way to the green oasis of Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges.
We enjoyed the journey to the Flinders via NSW. Although much of the region was affected by floods with many roads and highways closed, with the exception of a little bit of water over the road on the outskirts of Warren, the Prado didn’t get its feet wet, let alone test out the snorkle. Each town had something to remember it by. In Nyngan we spotted this heritage building.
And in Cobar where copper is mined, a lookout on the edge of town lets you look down into the big pit while the museum and visitor centre is worth a visit. The museum offers insights into the indigenous, mining and pastoral history of the region and the everyday life of the early settlers. In those days, a woman’s work was never done.
Broken Hill did not disappoint either. We enjoyed exploring the city streets where there were lots of interesting things to see such as ‘The Big Picture’ and the heritage listed town of Silverton where the Mad Max films were made. The sculpture park on Sunset Hill was striking and the sunset beautiful. As well, we found a delightful cafe which had excellent coffee and a fresh menu, always a bonus when you’re travelling.
But the star attraction of our trip were the Flinders Ranges. We stayed at Rawnsley Park Station www.rawnsleypark.com.au which has a variety of accommodation options to suit most budgets. We chose to stay in one of their self-contained holiday units which we found very comfortable.
There are some delightful walks at Rawnsley Park Station. One that we completed was the Ferntree Falls Walk. We were fortunate again because the falls don’t always flow, only after rain! And it had rained a couple of days before we arrived!
.The following morning we set off to explore. First stop was Wilpena Pound.
There is an excellent information centre at the Pound and soon we found ourselves walking along a silver gum lined creek
to the Hills Homestead, the early settlers of the Pound
on our way to the Wangara lookout where the view across the pound made the climb to the lookout worthwhile.
Returning to the visitor centre, we had our lunch on the shaded deck while we worked out our itinerary for an afternoon drive. We decided to explore the Bunyeroo and Brachina gorges.
Bunyeroo Gorge is one of the main gorges which runs through the Heysen Range towards Lake Torrens. The drive down the Razorback Ridge to Bunyeroo Valley gives spectacular views South towards the Pound Range.
We then drove north to join the Brachina Gorge road which meanders its way through sharp sawtooth ridges of resistant quartzite. This spectacular gorge was once used as a pass through which bullock teams pulled their loads and is now a favourite picnic and camping area.
Early next morning, we decided to do one of the longer walks at Wilpena Pound: the 18.8 km Bridle Gap Walk which takes you across the pound and back.
This walk forms part of the Heysen Trail, one of Australia’s Great Walks but it was the wildlife that we saw which made this walk very special. We spotted wallabies and some very friendly emus. For a moment or two, I thought they were going to be too friendly!
I also had fun testing out how waterproof my hiking boots were as we crossed little cteeks and lagoons on the walk. Needless to say, my feet in my Scarpa boots stayed dry. These boots are made for walking!
That afternoon, we explored other gems including the Cazneaux Tree. Cazneaux was a famous photographer. One of his most famous images was taken on 1937, of a solitary river red gum tree, near Wilpena Pound which he titled “The Spirit of Endurance”. Like many others, I took a photo of the same tree which still stands today.
There were Aboriginal rock sites to visit and admire,
lookouts to visit which had vistas over the ABC range and towards the north and a thrilling flight over the area to enjoy. We considered booking this before we left home, but weren’t sure which flight would suit us best. The friendly staff at Rawnsley and Wilpena Pound were very helpful and in the end we decided on a half hour flight from Rawnsley over the Pound and the Gorges. It was not difficult to book a time which suited us and our pilot made the experience one to savour. Thank you, Alex!
All too soon, we were bidding farewell to the Flinders Ranges. We returned to Byron Bay via Mildura where we stopped for two nights. This is a lovely place on the Murray River in the middle of wine growing country. Couldn’t resist trying the local drop and bought a couple of bottles home to share with friends. While in Mildura, we went to Sea Lake.
A couple of family reunions, an extra 6000 kms on the clock and all too soon we were driving into Byron Bay. Home until … the next adventure.