The Flinders Ranges in Springtime

chace-range
The Chace Range in the Flinders Ranges,  as viewed from Rawnsley Park

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

wildflowers-in-nyngan
Drifts of wildflowers near the Bogan River in Nyngan

to Broken Hill

blue-flowers-broken-hill
blue puff balls as far as the eye could see

and from the South Australian border

gazania-nature-strips
As we drove to each new town in South Australia, there were drifts of gazanias in every colour imaginable!

all the way to the  green oasis of Wilpena Pound in the  Flinders Ranges.

savanna-in-the-pound
Open grassland in the middle of Wilpena Pound.

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.

council-chambers-in-nyngan
Nyngan has been a boom and bust sort of place.

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.

 

cobar-museum
I’d need a good hand cream after this and my back hurts just looking at this equipment!

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.

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Sun nearly gone!

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.

rawnley-park
We stocked up on supplies in Broken Hill and Hawker. After breakfast, we packed lunch to take with us on our explorations , returning for a leisurely dinner each evening. 

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.

ariel-view-of-wilpena-pound
Wilpena Pound from the air! An experience not to be missed.

There is an excellent information centre at the Pound and soon we found ourselves walking along a silver gum lined creek

walk-in-wilpena-pound
These gum trees looked as if someone had spray painted them silver. And they were so tall!

 across bridges

bridge-on-walk
The creek twists and turns

to the Hills Homestead, the early settlers of the Pound

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A lonely life

on our way to the Wangara lookout where the view across the pound made the climb to the lookout worthwhile.

view-from-the-lookout
It just goes on and on.

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.

razorback-ridge
Kenn has always wanted to drive this road. Finally got his wish and a couple of watery creek crossings as well.

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.

looking-down-the-range
It was awesome to see where we had driven from the air

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.

bridle-gap-walk
The walk captured in bronze

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!

emus
The emus were on the lookout for something to chase: a wallaby jumped along and obliged

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.

cazny-tree
Hopefully, it will still be standing in 100 years time.

There were Aboriginal rock sites to visit and admire,

aboriginal-art
just beautiful

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.

sea-lake-reflections
As you can see, not much to see at Sea Lake except your reflection! We watched amazed as hordes of Chinese girls, dressed in designer clothing walked into the lake and posed while their boyfriends took their photograph in the murky salt lake.  Apparently, when there are some clouds, it looks as if you are walking on the clouds!

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.

 

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