Tuesday, 5 September 1995

Exploring The Flinders

During the night, a wind shift of 180 degrees meant we would now have the kitchen area facing the wind. With a damaged zipper which could split under pressure this would have been a worry if we were not sheltered by the tall eucalypts in ahead of us.

It was a cold morning and destined to be a cool day and given the amount of work to be completed in the school box, the morning was spent following these endeavours. It was obvious all of us - with the exception of Sam - were sick of this part of the trip and tempers flared before a lunch of biscuits, cabanossi and cheese. Diversionary tactics were called for, so we set off for a drive to the north and exploration of some of the other sights available.

Leaving the bitumen at the Wilpena turn off, we took the Blinmen Rd and were soon turning into a parking area to view the Cazeneux Tree. A large Sugar Gum, it was photographed bg Harold Cazeneux in 1937 and he entered this and some script into several international photographic exhibitions under the title "Spirit of Endurance". His subsequent placings in these competitions gave the area a little fame. However, it was his ultimately more famous grandson, Dick Smith, who really put the tree on the map, by placing a plaque adjacent to it, in memory of his grandfather.

A short distance away - perhaps 300 metres - we spied a ruin we had not seen on any of the maps of the area. Walking to it, we discovered an old tree house, with the hallmark planks of 4x1 nailed to the tree trunk as a ladder. The ruin itself was in remarkable condition, with the cement rendered walls still intact and the shingled roof looking only ten years old ! The outside barn was wooden vertical planks butted together and a galvanised tin roof. However, appearances can be deceiving and internal investigation of this "abandoned" house showed it to be a front. There was no internal structure and the walls were of modern internal wall construction, meshed with aluminium and cement rendered only. Afalse chimney climbed through the shingles and the window and door lintels were nailed into place over 2x1 frames. There was no doubt this was a clever reconstruction for an outdoor film set and we left it, intrigued but with a feeling of being "ripped off".

The road north branched about ten kilometres further on but we continued on the main route. Our
destination was the ruins at Appealina.

This wind swept rolling plain, lying north east of the centre of the Pound, has a small creek flowing slowly through it. Along this creek, near an exposed low cliff face of slate, settlers had come in 1851 to make a go of the land. Extracting the slate by hand and simple tools, they used it as the basic construction material for their dwellings. The flat pieces were placed together, without mortar, to form the walls and chimneys of the one and two room buildings. Door and window lintels had beams of locally cut wood placed over them and the most advanced designs had comer shelves placed diagonally across the adjacent walls at a height beyond the reach of children.

Many of the structures were so simple in design, that only low walls remained, but a few had stood the ravages of time well enough to have all of the basic structure still in place. Roofs have disappeared but the stone walls and chimneys are intact. The best of the buildings was past the quarry and in the opposite direction to the signs supplied by the National Park Service. We wondered if tliis was to keep itfrom the type of visitor who would not care how much damage they did whilst carrying out their inspection.

The wind was fierce at this point and blew its coldness straight into every part of our bodies and it was all we could do to prevent ourselves from running back to the car.

Continuing on, we circuited through Opparpartina and began travelling south again, until we eventually returned the way we had come and arrived back at camp. On the way, we watched two euros having a set to on one of the steep, surrounding hills.

The skies had cleared and the wind had dropped and you didn't have to be too smart to realise we were in for a cold night! The clarity of my thinking about the weather was matched by the clarity of the skies and by 11:00 pm a thin veneer of ice was forming on the windscreen of the car.

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