Wednesday, September 22, 2010
A long time favorite for our family holidays has always been the iconic Flinders Ranges in South Australia.
I've spent a lot of time and heaps of fuel exploring the area and of course I’ve only seen a tiny bit of the whole.
This area was sea bed 600 million years ago and only recently (over the past few million years) it’s been upended into a small but still growing range of mountains. Here you will see the marks left by lapping waves on the shoreline millions of years ago, now at the top of mountains.
This trip was to try out a new camera and to check the state of the area after the wettest winter for many, many years. The camera part of the trip was a failure, or rather; I failed to work out the new machine…just yet! This camera replaced a very good machine that was state of the art when I bought it 6 yrs ago. I wanted more zoom and more mega pixels, I got both and whole lot more besides, it will take a while to get used to the new level of complexity. (my way of saying I’m going to stuff up a lot more pics)
There's nothing worse than getting home full of expectation only to find most of your photos just not living up to your lofty hopes.
We did a few Geocaches on the way to and from and did Pitchi Richi Pass (wags like to paint out the first letter of each word on the road signs) Quorn, Warrens Gorge, Yarra Vale, Willochra back to Quorn then on to Bruce, Willmington, Horrocks Pass and back home. Phew!
Warrens Gorge is as green as it’s ever been and I got my first chance ever to film a rare and endangered Brush Tailed Wallaby with a Joey. I got just two bad shots, very unsatisfying.
Leaving Warrens Gorge I made the mistake of believing my GPS which claimed there was a major link road between us and the Hawker Highway thirty miles away.
I always wondered where all those small steams went that pour out of the mountains when it rains here… Turns out they empty onto the Willochra Plains, a vast flat expanse between two ranges of mountains. The plains are mainly silt washed from the mountains on both sides and with just a little rain it turns to clinging mud.
We followed a 4WD off the ridge of one range down onto the plains on a road which quickly became a goat track. Slipping and sliding from one side of the road to the other, only held online by the small embankments at each side of the road. My Ford towing a trailer full of camping equipment made it all the harder for us.
Down through thick mud and large expanses of water over the road with nothing to guide us but the weeds growing at roadside sticking up through the water.
Several creek crossings where there was nothing for it but to power through and hope there were no big holes hidden by the muddy water. Ahead the 4WD chose to leave the track to go around a large waterhole, I knew he’d made a mistake… the road is packed by cars into the hardest path, water or no water. I powered through, slipping and sliding but the big Ford clawed its way through and out the other side, a little sideways but still moving forward. I couldn’t stop until I found near solid ground another hundred yards on; by this time the 4WD was stuck fast and throwing mud in all directions. They stuffed branches under the tires and with a little too-ing and fro-ing they reversed out and came through the waterhole as we had.
As we continued on we discussed how much food and water we had, and how long we could make it last should the worst happen, but every mile forward was a mile closer to the tar road and salvation. We could see cars on the highway in the distance, first twenty miles, then fifteen and eventually we could see the colours and types of cars, we consoled ourselves that it was now only walking distance….
Just 100 yards from the tar we found a grave and the cache we came for…perhaps we should have used the highway?!
Returning to Quorn via the highway we headed for Bruce, a very small rail town in the middle of nowhere down a long straight dirt road. Coming over a small rise at 50 mph I had to slide to a stop to prevent going into a swollen creek across the road. There was no crossing this one… trying to find a way around we followed the damn GPS again and ended up bushed (lost) in muddy fields. We never did get to Bruce and the cache there, but we came within a mile of it, halted only by the creek. (no extra points for that)
We placed a roadside cache called ‘Galah’ just before Wilmington township and found a few local caches before heading homeward through Horrocks Pass.
My traveling companion has apparently led a sheltered life as he refers to the trip as high adventure and a string of near misses.
These were far from the only adventures of the trip, but perhaps the most memorable…. But then, there's always next weekend!
Photos of the trip can be seen at my Flickr site…