|Frozen tea towels|
By 9:00 am, the sun was beginning to do its work and we were on the track into the Pound. The first three kilometres of the track is actually a gravel road leading to a parking area before the walking track proper commences. However, I misread the map and we walked in! From the parking area the walk into Wilpena Pound is a well developed track which shows obvious signs of being remade in recent times and at quite a deal of expense. Purple gravel chips are spread to make footing very secure and the best track bridge I have encountered, takes walkers through a narrow section where the rock walls are quite steep. This opens out to a major junction in the tracks at the very start of the Pound itself.
At the junction is the two room sandstone ruin which was formerly the home of the Hills family in the early years of this century. The floor boards are the worse for wear, but this is not a safety factor as walkers cannot go in. Wire gates prohibit entry and a glance in through the openings that had been windows, showed why. Graffiti dating back to the 1930's shows the evidence of those who have felt the need to mark their passage past this spot.
Above this building, a steep track leads to the Wangarra Lookout. Again, the track has been remade and was in excellent condition. A lower lookout provides reasonable views for those unable to go further, but the highest point of the track provides superb views of Wilpena Pound and the ranges to both west and east. The upper lookout is perched about two thirds of the way to the summit of one particular point of the eroded syncline which makes up the Wall of the Pound and as we puffed our way to aerobic recovery, we took in the unusual topographic formation. Resembling an elongated saucer, the walls appeared to radiate from beneath the centre of a flat plain, rising at the edges at an angle of thirty degrees and therefore offering a border to what could have been one of Tolkien's strange lands.
The geological and cultural explanations of how the Pound formed were both on display, as well as the history of white exploration of the area.
Descending, we encouraged those on the ascent to continue, using the time honoured phrases one delivers in such circumstances - "not far now", "you're nearly there", "the view makes it all worthwhile" - in the full knowledge we had completed our pujjing and their's was not yet at its zenith.
We ventured out onto the floor of the Pound, which continued to look as though it only lacked red and greenflags. The trees and grass were unmistakably like a golf course. Rockier under foot than it had looked from above, it was still easy walking for legs as experienced as ours and we made our way to the opposite side of the Pound in time for lunch.
Strong sunshine and good tucker from our packs combined to send us into various states of repose and it was sluggishly that we reorganised for the return trip across the wide, tree covered expanse.
We wandered back, observing the wallabies and euros which occasionally glanced up from their afternoon dozing to inspect us in return. Rabbits hopped and darted under the cover of the shade of the tall eucalypts and flocks of Galahs, Corellas and White Collared Parrots flashed in and out of view.
Chris and I walked ahead of the rest and hiked back the full distance to camp, retrieving the car so the
others could avoid the full distance, which was, at its end, 17 kms. Their 14 kms was still a fair walk for the day!
The remainder of the afternoon was spent reading and playing games until dinner was ready. The cold climate was having an affect on thinking. We had all begun to feel the pinch and were beginning to think seriously of home. Whilst we were all enjoying the holiday, the thought of a warm bed and
conveniences was starting to play on our collective and individual minds. In consideration of this, we had a family conference about the pros and cons and I was commissioned to write a new end to our trip: one which would bring us home a week to ten days earlier, at the start of the NSW school holidays.
The evening air soon had us inside and into our layers of clothing.