Category Archives: Outback

Bunyeroo Gorge to Sacred Canyon

Bunyeroo Gorge is along a 30km dirt track which branches off the Brachina Gorge.
Road conditions are unknown, be prepared for anything!
Here we found two ducks swimming in a pond which was the designated road.
So as not to disturb them we decided to use the creek bed, which was tested and found to be much shallower, as a bypass. Many 4WD vehicles in this area use snorkels for breathing.

Ducks swimming in road

Scenes of the road and gorge

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And a large kangaroo with Joey

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Then we headed for Sacred canyon, a site where the Adnyamathanha people carved symbols in the rock instead of painting them. The trunks of the wida trees which can be found in the creek bed are home to witiyati grubs. Adnyamathanha hunters extracted the grubs from their tunnels in the tree with a small hooked stick called a narnanarnanunwoodara.

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And there were plenty of Mu's, Roo's and Gnu's on the road again

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After visiting Sacred Canyon we went to Wilpena Pound.

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Brachina Gorge

After Glass Gorge we turned to Parachilna, for a drink to quench the thirst at the Prairie Hotel, then headed south along the tar seal towards the dirt road turning off to Brachina Gorge.

Here's a view of the Flinders Ranges towards the north, from the Brachina Gorge rd

Flinders Ranges view to the north of the Brachina Gorge entrance

Brachina Gorge is certainly worth a visit. Again, a winding scenic track running through creek beds and often along the creek bed – which would be a raging torrent after heavy rain!

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Parachilna Gorge

After the Lake Eyre flight we headed south from Marree with no destination yet decided or accommodation booked. The tent in the rear of the car seemed uninviting due to the freezing night temperatures.

Mobile phone reception was none-existent (our Lake Eyre pilot Jane invited all passengers to take their mobile phones up with them in the hopes of receiving a signal at higher altitude. She said this was her only opprtuinty to update her facebook page!). We had installed a Telstra prepaid SIM in my mobile – Vodafone is absolute rubbish outside the cities. Cresting rise on the plains heading south we suddenly got a weak signal and pulled off. The tourist brochure revealed an inviting 1870's miners cottage in Blinman and a quick call secured a stay with a request to leave the money in the microwave oven when we leave.

We turned east towards the Flinders Ranges at Parachilna, heading into the Parachilna Gorge. The GPS warned that it would take 4 hours to travel 30km through the gorge towards Blinman. As sunset was approaching we made haste on the dirt road. The sights that greeted us were wondrous. Rough but passable road, water in the gullies, rocky cliffs, colourful light, birds, kangaroos, emus and a shy fox. The trip could well take 4 hours in bad conditions.

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Parachilna and Road to Marree

After leaving Quorn we travelled on the back road to Hawker via Warren Gorge, Simmonston Ruins, Death Rock, Kanyaka Station and Yourambulla Caves.

Parachilna has a population which can be counted on one hand, but has hosted several movie stars and been the setting for some movies. The main attractions are the “Feral Food Platter”, great beer, and the highlight of the day can be enjoyed by sitting on the verandah and watching Australia's longest coal train go by from the Leigh Creek coalfields south towards Port Augusta.

Here are some scenes from the road going north to Marree

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And on the way back from Marree to Parachilna again, where we quenched our thirst at the Prarie Hotel before entering the Parachilna Gorge to reach our accommodation in Blinman.

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Home via Mildura

We left Wilpena Pound early and headed to Mildura for a stopover to break the long journey.

South Australia takes less of a nanny state attitude towards driving. Speed limit is generally 110kph on the open road, with lots of passing lanes….and amusing reminders like this one, to drive carefully….

Dont drive like a “Knob”!
Other signs said:
“…Cock” – with a picture of a rooster
“…W Anchor” – picture with an anchor with the letter W on the left.
Work it out for yourself.

Scenes from Orrorroo, where we saw some colourful birds in a 500 year old gum tree next to a resting spot where we stopped for breakfast.

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The road to Orroroo travels through stunning scenery. Sheep farms and a large windfarm gracing the hills adjacent to a fertile valley.

South Australia Windfarm
SA produced 30% of it's energy from wind!
GO SA!

Sheep farm panorama

We arrived in Mildura at sunset, drove through the city to the edge of the Murray, saw a caravan park on the undeveloped NSW side with cabins on the waterside, scrapped our idea of sleeping in a motel, drove across to NSW and managed to get a lovely cabin by the waterside (only one available) for the evening.
The bird life was spectacular, shags, pelicans, kookaburras, ducks, you name it. Even a naughty little Indian Minah which was admiring itself and pecking at my car's rearview mirror.
What a lovely place to spend the last night of our holiday.

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The next morning we were up before sunrise, to see a mist descend over the Murray river, which persisted most of the way home to Melbourne.

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Wilpena Pound

The next morning we reluctantly left Blinman and headed south to Wilpena Pound via Bunyeroo Gorge, with a detour to Scared canyon. Neither should be missed.

We booked a room at the Wilpena Pound Resort and set off on the 7.8km tramp up to Wangara Lookout, where we met three girls from Sydney Town:
(apologies to “Banjo” Paterson….It was the man from Ironbark who struck the Sydney town…)
Three girls came down from Sydney Town
To join the protest at Roxby Down
Drove their car across the dusty plain
To stop the miners, cause some pain
We produce CO2, we make a stand
To keep the radiation in the sand
We saw them on the hilltop, Wilpena Pound
Eyes a-sparkling, they stood their ground
Those three girls from Sydney Town

The track up to the lookout and back was very scenic and on our return we were greeted by an Emu, and Kangaroos feasting on the lawn outside the restaurant where we later had an enjoyable meal.

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Blinman and surrounds

After our flight over Lake Eyre we headed south again. At Parachilna we turned east towards the Flinders Ranges and passed through the beautiful Parachilna Gorge just before sunset, heading to Blinman, where we stayed for two nights in Rose Cottage, a delightfully restored 1870's miner's cottage. Blinman is a virtual ghost town with only 22 permanent residents, 4 of whom are leaving. Being the highest town in South Australia the winter night get down to -9°C and summer days go up to the late 40's. The fireplace in the cottage worked very well to keep us comfortable after a lovely meal at the Blinman Hotel, enjoyed with red wine in front of the open fireplace.

The next morning we climbed the hill to the lookout at sunrise (bloody cold), saw many kangaroos.

In this panorama the village of Blinman is still in the shade of the lookout hill.
If you look to the village side you will see the tar road to the south (and Wilpena Pound) running off to the left. The road from Parachilna Gorge runs into this at the end of the village on the left. Our miners cottage can be seen at the junction of the two roads.

Later, I meandered around the village and captured some scenes.

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Denny was showing withdrawal symptoms and had to get a dose of internet from the general dealer, which she enjoyed on the sunny verandah, after which we did the copper mine tour, an experience not to be missed.

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Then we decide to explore more of the gorges. Glass Gorge joins up the road to Parachilna and was delightful. Here we had to kick our iron horse into 4WD low ratio locked diff to get up a steep hillock and look around.

Here are some photographs of Glass Gorge, including Denny splashing through a drift.

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Then we headed back to Blinman via Brachina Gorge, another experience not to be missed.

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Marree and Lake Eyre

After exploring the surrounds of Quorn we headed up beyond the black stump to Marree, where we stayed in an extension of the hotel – portable cabins- so that we could get a flight to Lake Eyre the next day. On the way up we stopped at Parachilna, a whistle stop between the road north and the railway to the coalfields of Leigh Creek. Apart from rusty vehicles and derelict buildings, the main claim to fame is the Prairie Hotel, where you can sit on the verandah every night and watch Australia's longest coal train make it's way from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta.

Marree lies below Lake Eyre, at the junction of the Oodnadatta and Birdsville tracks.
Marree was a great source of rusty vehicles, beautiful sunset and a derelict Ghan locomotive.

 

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Marree looks like the wild west. The extent of the town can be seen here. A single hotel, a white car left unoccupied and idling noisily in the main street. Our cabin is behind the car. Several times I caught myself crossing the street without looking for vehicles.

 

The next day we took a flight over Lake Eyre with our pilot Jane. Mobile phone reception

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Quorn and surrounding

Then, after looking at the coastal suburbs of Glenelg and Semaphore it was up to the Flinders ranges, stopping only at Port Germein to walk the longest wooden jetty in Australia, 1.66km straight into the sea.

Port_Germein_Jetty

We stayed in a delightful cottage in Quorn for two nights and did some lovely walks, the first being up Devils Peak, overlooking the Pichi Rich railroad and Port Augusta.

I got up early to take these sunrise photographs of the Richi Pichi Railyard on a freezing morning.

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Walk up Devils Peak near Quorn

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We also explored the back road from Quorn to Hawker and did a loop track through Warren Gorge over the hill and back.

 

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Adelaide

We had our first experience of the Outback in July – only a week, far too short, but a great taste of what's to come in future. I relate the story of our trip in short, with virtual tours, poetry, slideshows and fortunately for you, no singing. Click on the tour image to pop-up. Select Size icon to show full screen.

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I drove directly to Adelaide instead of doing a two day coastal Victoria trip, and when Denny called me to ask where I was, she was surprised to hear that I was 15minutes from the hotel in Adelaide.

First thing we did was take a walk around Rundle Mall,

where pigs run wild at night.

 

Adelaide, capital of South Australia, is a friendly and beautiful city of just over 1million people.
The next morning, after Denny went off to her conference, I took my camera and explored the city.
First stop was Adelaide Arcade, where I had coffee and a Danish.
When Adelaide Arcade was built in 1885 it comprised of 50 shops. Nowadays it boasts a diverse range of over 100 specialty retail outlets on the ground floor and balcony level.
The whole building was illuminated by electric light and was one of the first buildings in Adelaide to use electric lighting.
This is a virtual tour of the arcade from the centre of the building, balcony level.

And this is a tour from the end of the building.

I was struck by the modern architecture of the University of South Australia and had to capture that too:

That afternoon I visited the Aviation Museum and was kindly given a tour of the workshops, where they are lovingly restoring some old wrecks. This virtual tour is of the cockpit of a B2 Bomber. The canopy was purchased intact from the UK, a spare part from the war!

I visited the old stock exchange building and the Central Market, by which time Denny's conference was over and we went to a fabulous performance at the Entertainment Centre – Flight of the Chonchords – great Kiwi musicians and comedians.

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