Climb Every Mountain, Ford Every Stream...

Trip Start Unknown
Trip End Mar 08, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , South Australia,
Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Enough of these beaches, we thought, let's head for the hills! So we headed North West, through the endless golden-brown fields, back to the Eyre Highway to visit Murphy’s Haystacks – granite inselbergs – and Tcharkulda Rock, a huge granite outcrop which in the early settlement days was a supplier of nearby Minnipa’s water, using a gutter built around the rock which led to a reservoir.  Very inventive!  A wonderful view from the top of these outcrops – the country around is pretty flat.  Each little settlement we passed had huge grain silos and the railtrack ran alongside the highway to take the grain away.  We also stopped at Iron Knob – an old ore town which John had studied in his A Level Geography – now almost a ghost town. Apparently there are hopes to reopen the mines but the ore prices have dropped so the plan is on hold.  It’s open cast mining – in reality just removing a mountain and putting the spoil elsewhere.

We were at Port Augusta for New Years Eve but there were no big celebrations – we chatted to a couple who were on their way to an Elvis convention!  Port Augusta had the best interpretation centre we’ve seen, charting the changes in Australian Outback from 'the beginning of time’.  Geology, palaeontology, geography and history rolled into one (even symbiology – if you need to know what that is see Sarah’s blog: ).  It was so good and took so long we missed going to see the Hobbit! (We’ve been now though).  Also at Port Augusta was the lovely Arid Lands Botanical Gardens. 

We needed more National Parks so we headed off to the Flinders Ranges.  Now we were in the heatwave affecting much of Australia.  The country between Port Augusta and the Flinders was quite shockingly barren with abandoned homesteads and dusty willy willies.  We camped at Wilpena Pound; a rock amphitheatre with only 2 entrances so much like ‘the lost world’.  Sadly, it was found and initially used for horses and sheep grazing. In the early 1900’s the Hill family leased it and cleared much of it for wheat, although Wilpena Pound is some miles north of Goyder’s line.  Goyder’s line is a boundary line drawn across Southern Australia in 1865 by George Goyder.  It indicated the edge of an area believed suitable for agriculture – North of the line the rainfall isn’t reliable and the land only suitable for grazing.  The line proved to be remarkably accurate and there are homestead ruins north of the line where farmers tried and failed.  The irony of the story is that the Hill family finally gave up when the track into Wilpena Pound was washed away in a flood!  The Pound is now reverting back to its natural state of bush and trees.  We climbed to a couple of lookouts but not to the highest spot this time – it was a bit too hot and we were advised not to walk too far because of the fire risks.  I believe some of the recent bush fires have been on the news at home.

From the Flinders we drove down to the Murray River.  Did you know The Murray is the third longest navigable river in the world, after the Amazon and Nile, and spans three states?  We saw a tiny bit beginning at Morgan, a major paddle steamer port in the 1800’s, also home to a pipeline taking water to Whyalla, 360 km away, to develop the steel and shipyard industries.  The river has been damned and locked within an inch of its life – so important is it in southern Australia.  At Blanchetown is Lock No. 1, the first in a series of seven built to control the flow of the river - primarily for transport, though by the time they were all built river transport was dying.  Now the river flow is controlled for extraction.  We crossed the river mostly on ferries – free because they are ‘part of the road system’ not tourist attractions. 

Then we just happened to stumble upon the Barossa Valley, hic, home to many, many vineyards.  Jacob’s Creek has a Visitors Centre as well as the Cellar Door tasting.  There is a creek and it is called Jacob’s after the chap who used to own the land. It’s a very, very big concern and their vineyards were spread throughout the valley, using the differing soils etc. for the different varieties of grape.

And so to Adelaide…           Looking for the rainbow and following the dream!

(Apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein)

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mary bird on

You lucky people! It's snowing here and it's blooming cold! But we ar enjoying the blog and living vicariously!

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