Broken Hill, NSW to Flinders Ranges, SA.

Trip Start Jun 14, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Rawnsley Park Station

, South Australia,
Monday, June 25, 2012

I keep telling myself to write things down at the end of each day so I remember when and where I did what. One day I will learn from my mistakes and I will actually do this. It has been 3 days since I left broken hill and all I can remember for now about the drive here is it was fairly lonely. Took me about 5 hours I think, saw a couple of other holiday makers on the way, but roads out here are long and empty. Came across a few emus early on across the border. They actually scared me a bit, the first 2 I saw, a few kms apart stand still beside the road so you don't notice them till you are within striking distance of them and you just don’t know if they are about to dart across the road in front of you or stand their ground. This worries me because for some reason I think I would feel worse if I hit an emu than if I hit a kangaroo. Anyway all is well with wildlife so far, I haven’t killed any, I even swerve to miss the already dead ones! I don’t think it will be long before I hit my first one though if today is anything to go by, kangaroos, emus and sheep all crossing the road in front of me. So back to where I am and what I have done. I am staying at an amazing place called Rawnsley Park Station. It is just outside the entrance to the Flinders Ranges National Park. It is a working sheep station with approx 7000 acres, and that is just on this side of the road! When I got here and asked if there was a camp site available for 3 nights (I have now extended it to 4… could be 5) the woman showed me a map of the caravan park and showed me about 8 spots I could stay in, then said if I went around the corner I can find myself a spot somewhere in the 7000 acres past the dam… This was too much for me to process. If anyone has ever been in my car when I am presented with an empty car park to park in and I have trouble making up my mind which is the best spot for me, times that by 7000! I decided I wouldn’t go and look around the corner until I chose one of the 8 she showed me originally. Wow! What a spot! I chose the highest point of the caravan park overlooking the park and the ranges. It took me a while to set up camp as I kept getting distracted by the view. I still don’t think I have taken a photo of it that can do it justice… Actually I don’t think I have taken a photo of it, as I said, too distracted. I meant to today when I got back from my drive, but forgot, and the sun has now set and it was the first clear sky since I got here! Hopefully tomorrow is the same, I will get a shot then. So once my camp was set up I hiked to the top of the hill opposite me and waited for the sun to set. Silly me, should have waited longer before setting off on this trip, got to the top of this cold windy hill and had to wait over an hour for the sun to go down. Luckily I get Telstra 3G from the top of this hill, so I went on to the internet and told people how great this place was with low quality iphone pics.

Day 2 in the flinders, my first full day. I woke up to low level clouds over all the mountains/hills and patchy bits of blue. I spoke to the people at the station and asked if they had a weather report or if they expected the clouds to lift as the day heated up. It was all guess work but they said there was a chance of clear skies around midday, so I headed off for a hike up to the Wilpena lookout and Rawnsley Bluff hoping the prediction was right. It wasn’t. It cleared every so often in patches, but I still enjoyed it. I was lucky to have half an hour or so in sunlight once I reached the Wilpena Lookout, and I lay on a cold rock in the warm sun eating sandwiches and boiled eggs. It was great. The hike itself was easy for the first 2.5km, then straight up scrambling over loose rocks for just over 1km, then it became easy again, but that hard part, wow was it hard! Felt my heart beating outside my chest, even in my breath when I stopped and listened for a second. I will return a much fitter person if I keep doing these things. After my first meal at the lookout partially covering some of the view with clouds, I returned back to the intersection that lead to Rawnsley Bluff and made my way up there. This was an awesome view, even with the clouds. I sat on a cliff edge and ate another sandwich and enjoyed the view. When I had almost finished that sandwich and I was scanning the horizon and taking it all in, a wedge tail eagle flew right in front of me at about eye level, It was so amazing I dropped my sandwich and grabbed my camera in the hope to catch a photo of this massive creature right in front of me, stupid me had left it on manual focus and by the time I realised and changed it and got a picture, it was around to the next cliff face to the left of me. Still an awesome thing to see, I had only ever seen them flying high above me before not right in front of me. I finished my sandwich, I only dropped it on my bag, and drank a bottle of water and scrambled back down the mountain side for home. I had arranged a night sky walk that evening, but lousy weather had me postpone it to the next day. I made myself a campfire and heated one of my tin food things, read for a while, then slept.

Day 3 (the day I finally started to try to write down what I remembered).

Today was excellent! The day started the same, cloudy, cold, windy, but I set off anyway for a drive through a couple of gorges that had been recommended to me. Parachilna and Brachina. I just went through my photos to see what I took, not many! Dammit again! I am driving through another gorge tomorrow so I will be sure to take lots. The first gorge was in the northern end of the ranges and was pretty impressive, first real dirt driving experience this trip, and I don’t think my 323 would have liked it, it would have made it, just wouldn’t have liked it. The colours were awesome, the trees, the rocks, the sky! The clouds went! I was obviously having such a great time driving through here I forgot about my camera. As I had left the first gorge and heading to the next I saw an interesting signe telling me to eat kangaroo, camel and emu… So I did, well kangaroo, stopped at a pub for beer and kangaroo burger and hit the road for the next gorge further south, this one was even more impressive, so much so that I drove for possibly a km on a river bed only having a slight suspicion I left the road some time ago. I got back on the main track and enjoyed the rest of the gorge. This linked with another gorge that would take me further south back towards the Station, but it was already about 3 and so I found the main road and headed back, saving that gorge for tomorrow. This drive was the first one where I had the danger of unpredictable kangaroos. Hundreds of them, everywhere all the way back home. I still haven’t killed one yet. I was told just before sunset was the worst time for them, this was about 3:30, I would love to see what the road would have looked like at 5:30!

Anyway this brings me to now, I am sitting in the camp kitchen at the station about to head off on a night sky walk. It is COLD! This blog entry may seem to go off topic or jump a bit because as I wrote it I was chatting to everyone else in the kitchen about life, the universe and everything….

Just got back from the night sky walk. Awesome, The guide was all knowing on all things space. The 10 year old kid on the tour thought he was an expert on all things space, it was amusing at first, until he kept talking over the guide. Took us out just a short walk to where he has his own telescope set up and told us all about the universe. Highlight was Saturn. It seriously didn’t even look real, it looked like I was watching some sci fi movie, this telescope was pretty impressive. I don’t remember looking at Saturn and seeing the rings like this ever, I know I may have when I was younger up near the warrumbungles, but that was forever ago and I don’t remember. Anyway it is cold as hell and I wrote this section sitting in my car while I test out a quick star trails image using my new lens. Now I am off to try and get warm, more driving on riverbeds tomorrow!

Day 4 in the Flinders, more driving, mostly the same places, there was 2 different tracks I took that joined it all together, Bunnyeroo Gorge and another through someone elses sheep station. Highlights were once again another eagle surprised me, just as I rounded a corner it was at the side of the road and started flying away, I came to a quick stop, jumped out of my car and watched it. Landed in a tree near me and kept watching me, so I crept towards it going all trigger happy with my camera. I was also lucky to see a pair of emus taking a morning bath on 2 separate occasions. After all this I went for another hike and back to base getting ready to head off to Marree and the start of the Oodnadatta track tomorrow! This I have been looking forward to. I’m pretty stuffed right about now and this has already gone long enough so any additional stories shall be added to any pics that trigger a memory. Enjoy.

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Phillip Tomlinson on

Awesome photos. Looks like a heap of fun.

Dad on

The first bird (name that bird) is a male grey butcherbird - fairly common across the southern part of the country - also Berowra. It uses the hook on the end of it's beak to tear it's prey apart (butcher!) Second photo - don't know.

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