Flinders Ranges

Adelaide and the Flinders Ranges: our first taste of the Australian outback

At the end of a loooooong first day in Adelaide, spent towing the van from one repair place to another, we heard an almighty crash while cresting a speed bump. Our hearts dropped when we realised that the sound was Claude, falling off the back of the car and smashing into the road. Some wonderful caravanning angel must have been on shift though as – amazingly – no damage was sustained, except to our pride (we hadn’t secured the van to the tow ball! Safe to say we won’t make that mistake a second time).

Uh-oh

Bugger

"Maybe I can just lift it on to the car?"

“Maybe I can just lift it onto the car?”

We didn’t spend long enough in the South Australian capital and our few days passed in a blur of driving, repairs, mattress shopping and of course, caravan dropping. Thumbs up go to Hugh, Rita, Jess and Brian who treated us to an amazing home-cooked dinner and introduced us to the joys of Calvin Harris*, Foundry Burgers (we ate there in celebration of not destroying Claude), the extremely helpful guys at Adelaide Annex and Canvas, the bustling Adelaide Central Market and also the “funnest corner in Adelaide” (as coined by us), which comprised a hydroponic gardening shop next to an adult video store.

From Adelaide we set course for the Flinders Ranges, a 4WDing mecca and the “gateway to the outback”. On our way up the Wakefield Highway we overnighted in a total tongue-twister of a place: Newoora Playground on Weeroona Island (try saying that five times in a row), passed the beautiful mountain ranges of Telowie Gorge and the Remarkables, drove through the lovely and historic Quorn (a mention must go to Emily’s Bistro, which is one of the most intriguing slashie shops we have encountered: being a café, bar, and museum all rolled into one) and the sadly dwindling Hawker before making our way into the Flinders itself.

If you’re lucky enough to visit Emily's Bistro we promise you won’t run out of things to eat or look at

If you find time to visit Emily’s Bistro we promise you won’t run out of things to eat or look at

We’ve started to notice a pattern forming, whereby our drives into destinations turn out to be an excellent window into the adventures we will have there. Well, the Flinders didn’t disappoint in that regard. None of us (we say “none” though we really can’t be sure what Neddy got up to in the nine months before we met him) have ever been into the outback, but the red dirt, bluebird skies and vast mountain ranges really were everything we’d hoped for.

Family portrait

Family portrait

We stayed a week in the area and covered more kilometres in Bernie than we care to count. We checked out Wilpena Pound, Sacred Gorge, the Cazneaux Tree, Blinman Pub, any number of lookouts, and took a beautiful walk through the dog-friendly Rawnsley Park Station, which was where we camped and which we highly recommend.

Looking for Aboriginal artwork in Sacred Gorge

Looking for Aboriginal artwork in Sacred Gorge

Tree-hugging hippie in Sacred Gorge

Being a tree-hugging hippie

The Cazneaux Tree: a river red gum

The Cazneaux Tree: a river red gum made famous by Harold Cazneaux’s 1937 photograph titled “The Spirit of Endurance”

Afternoon views from Stokes Lookout

Afternoon views from Stokes Lookout

Sheeps at Sttokes Lookout

Sheeps enjoying afternoon views at Stokes Lookout

Nearing sunset at a lookout whose name we can't remember!

Shifting cloud breaks at a lookout whose name we can’t remember

Eagle-spotting at Rawnsley Park Station

Eagle-spotting during a walk at Rawnsley Park Station

Our camp site at Rawnsley Park Station

Our camp site at Rawnsley Park Station

4WD highlights included the privately owned and operated Skytrek at Willow Springs (which cost us $65 for the day but was phenomenal as well as extremely informative), Moralana scenic drive, Brachina Gorge, Bunyeroo Gorge and Glass Gorge. The geological significance of the Flinders is astounding, made more so by the fact that you can physically see evidence of ages past, including tide marks (the area used to be an inland sea)!

Entrance/exit to Skytrek, marked by a specially commissioned artwork

Entrance/exit to Skytrek, marked by a specially commissioned artwork

Laura checking out Aboriginal artwork at Willow Springs

Laura checking out Aboriginal artwork at Willow Springs

Skytrek windmill

Classic windmill shot

Outside Old Moxan's Hut, built at the turn of the century (and not the most recent one!)

Outside Old Moxan’s Hut at Willow Springs, built at the turn of the century (and not the most recent one!)

Inside Old Moxan's Hut, which was permanently occupied until the early 1960s

Inside Old Moxan’s Hut, which was permanently occupied until the early 1960s

Not a bad view

Just wow

Are we in the Flinders or on Mars?

A birdseye Skytrek view

A birdseye view

Are we in the Flinders or on Mars?

Signing the Skytrek visitor book

Signing the Skytrek visitors’ book

One of the many beautiful views seen on Moralana scenic drive

One of the many beautiful views seen on Moralana scenic drive

More Moralana

More Moralana

Kanagaroo spotting during Moralana scenic drive

Kangaroo-spotting during Moralana scenic drive

Bernie navigating a river bed in Brachina Gorge

Bernie navigating a (dry) river bed in Brachina Gorge

Jono enjoying the views at Brachina Gorge

Jono enjoying the views at Brachina Gorge

Jono and Neddy surveying Glass Gorge

Jono and Neddy surveying Glass Gorge

Small person, big place in Glass Gorge

Small person, big place in Glass Gorge

We were having so much fun outdoors that Claude must have begun to feel neglected. We presume this is why our 12 volt system rebelled in our last few days in the Flinders, leaving us sans light and a water pump. Although we really did try to appreciate the triviality of such concerns in comparison to the eons of history on our doorstep, we couldn’t help but feel a bit panicked. On leaving we decided to beeline straight to Port Augusta and into the arms of an auto-electrician.

*Some of us experienced the joy more acutely than others.

Follow the red dirt road ...

Follow the red dirt road …

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