I may have said it before in this blog, but if I have, it bears repeating. This would have to be the second most beautiful part of Australia, after the Kimberley. I have just spent two weeks here, done a heap of bushwalking and only tore myself away because I don't want to be too late to cross the centre - It gets bloody cold there after the end of March or so.
I spent a week in Port Pirie, stocking up and just relaxing. The caravan park on the highway, "RangeView" gives a great deal to travellers. It's not all that posh, but the sites are shaded, the water in the showers is hot - what more do you want? $104.00 for 7 nights after the discounts is cheap as chips.
Thursday, 3rd March 2011 - Day 811
I headed north from Port Pirie and took the road to Quorn, just short of Port Augusta. It would appear that this area has been copping the rain like so many other parts. A washout like this on a main road is just no joke.
I don't know why, but I have never taken the track into Kanyaka Homestead before and I must have done this stretch of road 5 or 6 times, but I decided to have a look and I am very glad I did - It is well worth the visit.
The buildings are completely ruined, but retain enough structure for one to visualise the layout of the buildings as they originally were.
The shearing shed is absolutely amazing. I have had some experience of shearing sheds in my time, but this must have been the Taj Mahal of shearing sheds. To build a shearing shed of this size completely out of stone including the pens - is just astounding. As Molly Meldrum would say - Do yourself a favour. Put this one on your "must see" list if you're ever up this way.
The other spot I have always by-passed on the road to Hawker is the Youramballa Caves. I was running well for time, it was only about 11:00 am, so I thought I'd take a look. Warning! It's a pretty steep climb and on a hot day, for a person who is only moderately fit, it was a bit of a puffer. Not only was the aboriginal art quite interesting, but the view from the top is spectacular. Why then, I hear you ask, are there no photographs of this spectacular view? Well, guess who didn't take any spare batteries for the camera and ran out of charge??? yep and there was no way I was going back down to the car and back up again - you'll either have to wait for next time or - here's and idea - go and have a look yourself.
Past Wilpena (what a tourist trap/rip-off that place is) and into Bunyeroo Gorge. I didn't take any photos here 'cos the road is so bad that there is nowhere to stop to take a snap. The gorge itself was nothing special, and I pulled into a couple of campsites to have a look and wasn't very impressed. Firstly, they were $11.00 per vehicle per night (after already paying the $8.50 Park fee) and weren't big enough to swing a cat. The bays were definitely not big enough for a caravan and not even big enough for a camper-trailer. Add to that, no facilities and there's no value for money there. I kept going on a really dreadful road and came out on the Brachina Gorge road, but that was closed to the west (through the gorge) due to flood damage, so back to the bitumen and up to Blinman. It was getting fairly late, even with daylight saving, so I pushed on and found the same site where I had camped last year. It is a great spot, level, well above the high-tide mark and central, so why not?
Sunday, 6th March 2011 - Day 814
After a couple of days settling in, I took a wander up the north side of the gorge to have a look around. The hills are not all that high, 250-300 metres or so and relatively easy to get up. If I can do it, just about anybody can. The view from the top of the hills is fantastic.
Wednesday, 9th March 2011 - Day 817
There must have been some good rains just before I arrived, the creek crossings are washed out and there is some standing water in the creek, very similar to when I left last year after the place flooded out. There has been a big slide just near the spot where I'm camped.
The neighbours seem quite friendly - but I'm disappointed that there aren't more birds around - couple of magpies, twenty million crows and that's about it.
Friday, 11 march 2011 - Day 819
Having recovered from Sunday's ramble, I took a walk up the south side of the gorge. This was a bit tougher - had to take a couple of rest breaks, but well worth the effort.
The view to the west is terrific. In the middle distance, just over the crest of the last ridge is the settlement of Parachilna (population not many) 15kms away and in the distance is Lake Torrens, about 60kms.
Tuesday, 15th March 2011 - Day 823
I noticed something yellow in the distance from the top of the south side of the gorge when I was up there and what seemed to be a track winding over the hills, so, having nothing better to do, I thought I would investigate. I wandered along the (dry) bed of the creek for a couple of kilometres and found my yellow thing, it was a big fuel tank and generator puffing away, presumably for the Angorchina Tourist Village just a bit further on - Boring. I found the track I saw and followed it for a couple of K's, but it didn't seem to be heading anywhere in particular so I decided to head back to the main creek. I found a small feeder creek and followed it and was pleasantly surprised by how pretty some sections of it were. It certainly pays to take the path less travelled, as Mr. Frost said.
Wednesday, 16th March 2011 - Day 824
I think I'm dying - No, I feel worse, I just wish I was dying. I decided to take a wander along the main road towards the west and see what I could see. Everything was fine until I spotted a sign on the far bank of the creek and went to see what it said. It said No Camping - No Shooting (obviously put up by the station owner) but what was curious, was that there was a creek with tyre tracks leading off, so I let curiosity rule. The creek was unusual in that it had a sandy bed rather than a rocky one, which made it easier for a vehicle to access. After going through a narrow gorge it flattened out and I discovered an Ochre outcropping. Not as extensive as the one in the West MacDonnells, but I'm surprised the tourist operators haven't capitalised on it and made it a tourist feature.
Thursday, 17th March 2011 - Day 825
Happy St. Patrick's day to any of you of the Irish persuasion. I packed up this morning and headed for Leigh Creek, mainly because I'm out of petrol for the generator. There has been heavy overcast nearly every day, and the solar panels are not getting enough sun to keep the batteries charged. The generator in the evening gives enough kick to the batteries to keep the fridge going over night, but this morning they're about stuffed and there is no sun at all, so I'm off. I'll spend tonight in the caravan park at Leigh Creek to top up the water tanks and then head for the campground at the Farina ruins. I really enjoyed that last year, so I might spend 10 days there this time. I'm not sure if there is any mobile coverage there, so if not, I'll post again when I get to Marree.
See you soon.