Friday, 1 September 1995

Port Augusta to Flinders Ranges NP

Flinders Ranges NP - Quorn, Hawker, Wilpena (Highway 47) 150 kms

Experts at the procedure, we took only the required minimum time to be on the road and with gas bottles filled and fuel tank similarly supplied, we were heading north into the Flinders Ranges.

We were immediately struck by the differences in the scenery from that to which we had become
accustomed. It was differences such as the colours and the topography which first struck the eye. Where as the previous two months had been dominated by orange, red and yellow, shades of green now filled the visual light spectrum. The never ending boredom of flatness was replaced with hills, gullies and all manner of bumps and hollows. Water, power lines, fences and houses were other changes our visual perceptions were adapting to.

The road wound through the early hills of the Central Flinders Ranges and soon had us slowing for the residential area of Quom. This pretty little village is probably best known for the Pitchi Rttchi Railway but there appeared to be other things worth stopping for. The buildings in the centre of the village were lovingly restored and many were made from large sandstone blocks, reminiscent of the fine buildings we had seen in Bendigo on our trip to Victoria in Dec 941 Jan 95. Of course, these public buildings were on a smaller scale, but, for their size,

Further north we reached the "gateway to tlie Flinders Ranges", Hawker. It is remarkable how many towns claim entry status. During our trip, we were often confronted with such heralds and many were amusing claims to fame. In this case, we found an impressive small village which obviously has a lot of pride and an active business and tourist association. In the centre of the village, an excellent stopping place for travellers is provided. Stopping bays for caravans and trailers, modern ultra-clean toilets and spacious bench picnic tables undercover were setup among bark covered gardens, across the road from a mixed business. Adorning the walls of the shelters were display boards with extensive information about the local area, including accommodation, detailed maps, tourist activities and services. It was the best facility of its type we had encountered in 10 000 kms and put all of the large towns and cities we had visited to shame in catering for travellers.

After lunch, we traversed the final fifty or so kilometres to Wilpena Pound. This leg of the journey was through more lush, green valleys with the remains of homesteads dotted through them. These sandstone relics are a feature of the area and are a treat unto themselves, but one we intended to explore during our time at Wilpena Pound. The mountain formations became more imposing as you approached them towering over us as we drove the final 4 kms into the gap providing access to the formation which is the Pound.

Stopping at the Ranger Station, we made the difficult decision to remain in this lower section of the park, as the roads into Aroona Ruins did not sound the best and the day was getting on toward its later stages.

We set up camp among some small pines - with just enough room to squeeze the large tent in - and settled in. It soon became apparent the temperatures we had acclimatised to in the Centre and further north, were long behind us and track suits and beanies came out from the bottom of ports. The evening chill gave way to the sort of bone numbing cold we had experienced on many of our previous camping trips. However, it was unpleasant to again coat the body with three or four layers of clothes after so many nights of T shirts and undies. The shivering, blue skinned alternative was not worth considering.

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