Friday, 8 September 1995

Mt Cavern

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me ...

Another year passed by, but to great avail. This is one birthday I had only to reflect on those around me to know what gifts had been lavished on me in my lifetime. It seemed needless to receive anything more than the wife and children I had been blessed with.

Our first walk was to be the Mt Cavern walk of 11 kms, which would take us to the highest point on the Black Range and the second highest point in the park.

Commencing from the day use area adjacent to the camping grounds, this walk headed east and away
from the Mambray Creek Gorge, leading from the Mambray Creek Pound. The morning was spent climbing, as we first ascended to 480 metres above sea level to a lookout at the southern end of the Black Range. The ascent to this lookout was dotted with a great variety of wild flowers of yellow, purple, red and white and afforded magnificent views over the Spencer Gulf.

By the time we reached the lookout, we had 150 degrees of view, centred on the west This last view
included Port Augusta to the northwest, Whyalla across the gulf and Port Pirie in the southeast. The blue of the water with hills and clouds providing the backdrop and then the green of the plain in the foreground was a visual spectacle the equal of anything we had seen during this trip.

The next two kilometres involved a climb of 300 metres, most of which happened in the last reach to the top. For much of the time, we traversed a ridge top with climbs and falls, until finally, we faced up to the grueling ascent to the summit With rests every few hundred metres, we eventually broached the last scramble of rocks which marked the top of the mountain. Exhausted, we dropped onto the rocky surface in the shade of the hardy eucalypts which grew here and accepted the view on offer. To the west, the gulf shimmered in the midday sun. To our immediate north, the gorges of this section of the park were revealed for the first time. The Mambray Creek Pound was evident, with its familiar bowl shape.

It presented a smaller and less well defined version of what we had seen at Wilpena.

The view over the Spencer Gulf
from Mt Cavern
Mt Cavern was named by Edward John Eyre when he surveyed the Spencer Gulf in 1839 and was used as a navigational marker for many years thereafter. We felt every metre of the 770 we had climbed over the course of 6 kms. However, there would be worse places to have lunch !

The really hard part followed lunch. Many people think climbing is tough, but for me, I have always found steep descents the worst on the legs and feet. It soon became apparent why the walk was suggested in the direction indicated, as climbing the rocky, rough track would have been only for the super fit As it was, descending was a slow and tricky process and this was made more so by the disappearance of the track in places. Rockfalls and slides obliterated the original track at times and one had to look ahead to gain an idea of how to proceed.

The descent lasted for a little over two kilometres and in that time we dropped down by the same amount we had climbed in 6 kins on the way up ! When we finally reached the creek, there was relief from groaning knees and ankles and it didn't take long for us to find a shallow pool where we stopped for a rest and to soak our feet The Water was very cold, but very soothing and our swollen, sore feet reveled in the relaxing treatment we were now rewarding them with.

The final four kilometres were spent in a relaxing walk along Mambray Creek

Our return home saw five weary but satisfied bodies flopping down onto our chairs and soon refilling the tanks with a hot cuppa and some Ginger Nut biscuits. A person who doesn't normally eat biscuits or cake, I must admit to enjoying these "extras" with a hot cuppa at the end of a long walk.

The remainder of my birthday was spent reading - yet another of my Star Trek books - and relaxing with my family. It was a perfect day !

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