Exploring the ranges

You could quite easily spend a few weeks exploring the Flinders Ranges and surrounding areas, particularly if you are going to do any of the bushwalks.

Below are just a few of the places we visited while in the area.

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The Great Wall of China

Just outside the Flinders Ranges on the road between Wilpena and Blinman you’ll find the unusual formation which is named the Great Wall of China.  This is made up of lines of rocks which are topped with ironstone.

Blinman

The historic town of Blinman is actually the highest town in South Australia.  Copper was discovered here in 1859 and mining began soon afterwards.  What was once a popular busy town in the mining boom is now a quiet little town home to just 22 residents.

The Blinman Hotel, known as ‘The Pub in the Scrub’, first opened in 1869.

Sacred Canyon

The site is a place where the Adnyamanthanha people gathered to tell stories.  It’s believed that the engravings are up to 40 thousand years old.

It’s quite an easy and picturesque walk into the canyon along a dry river bed, lined with ancient river red gums.  What makes this place different to other Aboriginal artworks is that they are actually engravings carved into the rocks, not paintings.

It is unknown who actually made these artworks as the memory of these people has been lost to the local Adnyamanthanha community.

Nuccaleena Mine Ruins

Copper was discovered at Nuccaleena by William Finke in the mid 1850’s.  The mine became partly operational in early 1860 when 100 tons of copper ore were mined in 5 weeks by 16 men.  By March 1861, 88 men were working at Nuccaleena, including six miners, five masons, four sawyers, two cooks and a medical officer.

The Great Northern Mining Company built a small town around the mine site, where the miners and mechanics of the company resided. Of course, the township also had the Bushman’s Hotel, as well as Captains apartments, office, stone stables, a goods store, smith’s shop, a workshop, general store, doctor’s house and huts for the miners.

You can walk around this old mine site and we would have loved to have done so, but it was unbelievably hot the day we were there and walking from the car to the information sign and taking the photos below nearly killed me (George stayed in the comfort of the air-conditioned car!)

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Kanyaka Homestead Ruins

We both love exploring old ruins, learning the history and imagining what these places must have been like …. filled with people and chatter.  Walking around some of these ruins we come across, you are the only ones there and it’s hard to imagine what life must had been like.

The Kanyaka ruins consists of various buildings, the main homestead and various other outbuildings.   There is also the woolshed, which was one of the largest in the state.

This was our second visit to these ruins and this time we also noticed that there is a small cemetery across the creek bed …. we all know Shelly loves a cemetery and had it not been over 43 degrees she would have taken the walk over to check it out!

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Old Moxans’ Hut

You will find this hut on the SkyTrek Track on Willow Spring Station property.  Old Moxans’ Hut was built around the turn of the century and was actually occupied permanently by a station employee until the early 1960’s.

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Prairie Hotel

Located at Parachilna, the Prairie Hotel is one of those places that everyone wants to visit, why?  To try their ‘FMG’ – Feral Mixed Grill ….. a dish consisting of kangaroo, camel and emu.  Apparently this is listed as one of the top 100 Gourmet experiences in Australia!  We would have liked to try this (well George would have), but the hotel was closed for the summer so we will have to visit next time, but we did take a drive out to the town anyway.

The Parachilna Hotel was first licensed in 1876 and changed its name to the Prairie Hotel when Ross and Jane Fargher purchased the hotel in 1991.

Now Parachilna is one of those blink and you’ll miss it type of places …. it’s literally nothing more than a railway station, the hotel and a few other buildings.  It’s a strange little place, there was no one around (that we could see!) and to be honest it felt pretty eerie.  Would we stay there ….. NO, would we go back when the pub is open …. Probably, did we feel like someone was going to jump out and kidnap us and chop us up into a million pieces …. YES!

Friendly locals!

This friendly little guy was a constant visitor at our campsite during our stay.  He was very inquisitive and was never far away.  We are always very careful about not leaving food or rubbish around while we are camping, but we did come back one day and find the grease tray from our Webber lying on the floor ….. we have a feeling maybe this little guy had something to do with that!

Plenty of 4WD Tracks

As previously posted, there are plenty of 4WD tracks available and the Flinders Ranges are centrally located should you wish to extended your holiday into another area …. there was a part of us that wanted to jump on the Strzelecki Track and head off to Innamincka for another visit ….. the hotel sells awesome chips!

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Wilpena Pound Welcome Talk

One of the highlights of the trip was attending the welcome talk at the resort.  Each night they hold a free informal talk where you are welcomed to the area in Yura Ngawarla, the language of the Adnyamathanha people, the traditional owners of Wilpena Pound and the Flinders Ranges area.  The talk included the welcome, as well as stories and beliefs of the Adnyamathanha people as to the creation of the pound and surrounding areas.  To hear of stories passed down from generation to generation and to feel their passion and spiritual connection is something we love to be a part of.  To visit places like this and see that many of the staff are of Aboriginal background makes it just feel right.  We love hearing the Dreamtime stories, knowing that they have carried these beliefs down the generations, it’s a privilege to be a part of that.  If you are visiting the Wilpena Pound Resort, this welcome talk is a must-do activity.

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We basically spent 5 days driving around and exploring.  We generally left camp by 8am and we were lucky to be back before 7pm most days.  During our whole trip we drove 5,136km.  Above is a screenshot of our hema map app of where we drove in the Flinders Ranges.


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Flinders Ranges 4×4 Tracks

We had been told that not only was the scenery spectacular, but there were some great 4X4 tracks to be found in the Flinders Ranges.  One of the perks of knowing the owner of a 4WD tour company is that we always find out the best of the best places to visit on our travels!  After getting the run down of where to visit we set off to explore a few of the tracks.  The first was the Arkapena Track which is a track made up of two sections, an AWD section and a 4WD only section.

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Arkapena Track

This self-guided four-wheel-drive track is on private property and it cost us $50 to drive it. Payment is made and key is picked up from Rawnsley Park Station. You are also provided with a map and information on the area you were driving, as well as directions to the starting point.

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The first section, which takes about 3 or so hours to drive is an all wheel drive track which, although not challenging, we enjoyed it as it offered some great scenery. In saying that though, if you were in an AWD vehicle (not a big tough Prado 😂) or you weren’t experienced, you’d certainly find this first section very enjoyable!

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The second part of this track is a 4WD only track and this section took us about an hour or so to complete.

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⛺️Rawnsley Park Station offer onsite camping and park cabins.  Contact details are:-

Telephone (08) 8648 0700    http://www.rawnsleypark.com.au


SkyTrek

New Years Day saw us head off on another 4WD track, this time the SkyTrek which is located on Willow Springs Station.

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This track is for vehicles with low range 4WD and experienced 4WDers only. As with the other track there is a charge which was $70.  We were given a map, a key and information guide before we set off.  There are 50 markers on the route and the information booklet takes you through what all of these points of interest are.

Note that this track takes around six hours to complete and you cannot start this track any later than 10:30 am. Willow Springs is a working sheep station and the Reynolds family have been managing and grazing on this land for over 85 years.

⛺️ Willow Springs offer onsite camping as well as various cottages.  Contact details are:-

Telephone (08) 8648 0016    http://www.skytrekwillowsprings.com.au


Many of the tracks in the area run through private property so always make sure you are actually allowed to be there!  Not all people let you drive on their property.  After you are sure you can actually be there ….

🔹stay to formed tracks

🔹leave gates as you find them

🔹take all rubbish with you

🔹watch for wildlife and/or stock

🔹call ahead if you would like to drive a track or call into the homestead and say hi if you are driving past, after all this is someone’s backyard you are driving through!


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Who visits the Flinders Ranges in summer …. we do!

We left the tranquil stunning waters of Coffin Bay and the SA coastline and made our way inland to the rugged ancient rock formations that make up the hot and dry Flinders Ranges.

The Flinders Ranges in South Australia are amazing and best visited in the cooler months of the year, but we were prepared for the heat and decided to go anyway! Yes it was hot, but it wasn’t too bad at all, the heat is a dry heat, totally different to the humidity we get in Sydney.

We spent our time camping in the Wilpena Pound Resort, which is the only accommodation located within the Ikara Flinders Ranges National Park. This resort offers motel style rooms, luxury safari tent accommodation and powered and unpowered sites. We stayed on a powered site and it was huge, plenty of space to spread out and still be away from your neighbours!

The Flinders Ranges is known for its stunning scenery, ancient landscapes and great 4×4 tracks. The landscape is up to 800 million years old and has been home to Adnyamathanha people for tens of thousands of years.

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Day 1 we decided to explore the popular tourist drives including Bunyeroo Valley and Brachina Gorge.

The Brachina Gorge and Bunyeroo Valley tracks are not a difficult drive by any means but they are by far one of the most scenic drives in the Flinders Ranges.

From a geological perspective, this whole area is something really special. To be honest, neither of us really get into the geology side too much, but when you realise you are driving through ranges and valleys with hundreds of millions of years worth of history you can’t help but feel something. We don’t understand it all, but just being there you get a feeling that you are somewhere special.

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The Bunyeroo formation consists of soft shale and siltstone which eroded away to form low valleys. It was formed about 580 million years ago when a rapid rise in the sea level flooded the whole area and resulted in deposition of the clay and silt. To know you are driving through an area that was once the bottom of an ocean is quite something.

If time is something you don’t have much of during your visit to the Flinders Ranges then these are your must do tracks. It gives a great introduction into the history and landscape of the area and the scenery is truly amazing. At every turn and every crest you come to you will be amazed at the views.


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The best holiday we’ve ever had!

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The Tip of Australia! Cape York

We have recently been reliving part of our trip to Cape York with our Instagram and social media followers, it was great to go back over the photos and be able to share them with others.  It was just one small part of such a great holiday we had.

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Weipa Eco sunset tour

For those that don’t know, back in 2013 we embarked on our honeymoon, a 7 week trip from Sydney to Cape York and then to the Northern Territory, South Australia and back home again.

Now 7 weeks of camping and 4WDing around Australia is probably not everyone’s idea of a great holiday, but for us it was perfect.  We wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Below is a basic outline of our itinerary

  • Margate, Qld
  • Rockhampton, Qld
  • Townsville, Qld
  • Mareeba, Qld
  • Laura, Qld
  • Archer River Roadhouse, Qld
  • Weipa, Qld
  • Bramwell Station, Qld
  • Eliot Falls, Qld
  • Seisa, Qld
  • Thursday Island, Qld
  • Captain Billy Landing, Qld
  • Chili Beach, Qld
  • Musgrave  Roadhouse, Qld
  • Kalpowar Crossing, Qld
  • Cooktown, Qld
  • Lions Den  Hotel, Qld
  • Cape Tribulation, Qld
  • Cairns, Qld
  • Innot Hot Springs, Qld
  • Undarra, Qld
  • Hughenden, QLD
  • Mt Isa, QLD
  • Tennant Creek, NT
  • Wycliffe Well, NT
  • Alice Springs, NT
  • Palm Valley, NT
  • Kings Canyon, NT
  • Uluru, NT
  • Marla, SA
  • Coober Pedy, SA
  • Port Augusta, SA
  • Broken Hill, NSW

IMG_1624We had our share of drama’s though, our mates who were meant to join us on part of the trip had to pull out after their engine died in the first few days.  All that hard work and planning was gone so quickly.  Luckily we managed to meet up with them for a few days on the way back from Cape York before we headed over to NT.

We had a frantic phone call from Weipa to our mechanic back in Sydney when the 4WD wouldn’t engage in our car and he instructed us over the phone as to how to fix this.

At different times throughout the trip we also had a badly cut hand, a dislocated thumb, a bad case of heat stroke and a few episodes of car sickness!.

We had our alternator die about 400km out of Alice Springs and we limped our way there watching the voltage drop in our batteries.  We watched as the radio, lights, taco, speedo all started IMG_1147gradually shutting down one by one!  Luckily by the time we car eventually stopped, we managed to coast into a servo in Alice Springs, just 5 min from our pre-booked accommodation.  We also had a few suspension issues and this all required us to beIMG_1212 stranded in Alice Springs for a few days while repairs were done.

Even with all of this, it was a great trip and we made it and that’s all that matters!  If anything, we learned exactly what type of people live in Alice Springs, the most friendly, helpful, genuine people.  We couldn’t have been happier with the service we received there.

Here is a small extract from our previous blog posts about this amazing trip.

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Fruit Bat Falls, Cape York

So what can we say, what an amazing holiday. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend our honeymoon. We are so IMG_1566privileged to have been able to spend time in some of the places we did, it truly is a blessing to have been able to travel our great country. The people of outback Australia are some of the kindest, laid back and most genuine people you could ever meet. It really is a totally different world out there. You could not get any further from the hustle and bustle of Sydney if you tried. We met some amazing people on our travels, both in the towns and our fellow like-minded campers. To think that we set up camp and then spend the whole day out exploring, leaving to tent unattended, unlocked, suitcases and belongings inside, chairs and table outside and you come back at night and everything is how you left it. There is a mutual respect and no-one would even think to touch your belongings. Yet at home we close the windows and deadlock the door before driving to the shops for 5 minutes! It really was refreshing being able to live in a world where everyone looks out for each other and respects others and their property …. even if it was unfortunately only for 7 weeks.

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Sunset over The Olgas (Kata Tjuta), NT

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Camel rides at Uluru

Everyone is amazingly friendly, you rarely pass a car without getting a wave (even from the truckies and coppers!). We even had a truck driver stop his truck and get out to warn us about a huge pot hole on one of the dirt tracks we were travelling on. The road train drivers are equally courteous of fellow drivers, a quick chat on the CB will often let you know if its safe to overtake or warn of any upcoming traffic/road issues. It really does remind you that there are still good people in this world, unfortunately in the city many people are just too busy to worry about anyone else but themselves. Each day we would set up camp and there was always someone walking by, beer in hand, ready to have a chat! Always someone who has been where you are heading and ready to answer questions or give advice and always someone waiting to hear stories of our adventures.

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Inside a lava tunnel

We visited some wonderful places, saw some amazing things and experienced so much. We stood on the northern most point of Australia, drank beer in Australia’s most northerly pub (on Thursday Island). IMG_1756We stayed in a refurbished train carriage and went on a tour through million year old volcanic lava tubes at Undarra Volcanic Park. We stayed in an underground motel at Coober Pedy (where 80% of the population live underground), we toured the Rio Tinto bauxite mines in Weipa, learned the history of the gold mines in Tennant Creek and explored an opal mine in Coober Pedy. We saw the sunrise over Uluru and watched the sunset over Uluru and Kata Tjuta from on top of a camel! We travelled in the footsteps of some of our early explorers, we followed the Old Ghan Railway line and we had the chance to drive some of the 4WD tracks on every true 4WDers ‘must do’ list. We drove through bushfires (and even had one surrounding our campground), survived gale force winds and major storm at Captain Billy’s Landing and 120km winds at Port Augusta.

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Coober Pedy mine tour

We ate camel burgers at Kings Canyon and Crayfish pie at Thursday Island! We felt the magic and beauty of being at the Devils Marbles and we were overwhelmed by the sheer size and presence of Uluru. IMG_2320We saw more wildlife than you could ever imagine, birds, eagles, crocodiles, emus, camels, dingoes, lizards, cows, snakes, goats, horses, dogs, sheep, kangaroos. We even had the awesome opportunity to hold and play with a baby orphaned wallaby at Wycliffe Well.

We swam under waterfalls, bathed in the 43 degree natural springs at Innot Hot Springs and  drove through many croc infested rivers.

We were covered in red dirt, went days without a shower, toilets were few and far between at places. We encountered more flies than you could ever imagine (even one in George’s beer … nice surprise!). We got used to eating the odd bug in our dinner and having sand and dirt throughout the car, the tent, the sleeping bags and your belongings was just normal. We encountered a 2 degree night and 40 degree days, wild winds and torrential rain, had dingosIMG_2075 stalking us for our dinner and we had spiders living on our chairs. We wore the same clothes more than one day each and washing with baby wipes was the done thing. But we loved every single part of it, it is all part of the adventure! And at the end of the day, every single person you meet is in the same position as you so no one even comes close to caring! So to say that we enjoyed our time away is an understatement, we loved every minute of it and cannot wait to get back out there again.

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Palm Valley, NT

So here is a bit of a summary of our trip.

Total KM travelled 13,367 km

Total time away 49 days (7 weeks)

Total amount of money spent on petrol $4,240.20

Average overall L/100km 18.49 (combination of weight, a batch of bad fuel, low & high range off road driving, highway driving, few days of bad headwinds)

What we missed the most while away The kids, the dogs, family and friends

Best Chips n Gravy Archer River Roadhouse, QLD

Best Coffee Cobar, NSW

Best Burgers Archer River Roadhouse, with Musgrave Roadhouse a very close second

Best Pizza Outback Pioneer Kitchen, Ayers Rock Resort & Alfrescos, Broken Hill

Best meal Loyalty Beach. Not just the food, the whole package …. Food, location, atmosphere and service

Biggest surprise How much we loved Alice Springs, could totally see us living there. Also the sheer size of Uluru.

Most Scenic Flinders Ranges, SA and Finke Gorge National Park, NT (Boggy Hole in particular)

Favourite campground (remote) Bramwell Station and Chili Beach

Favourite campground (city) Cairns Big 4 Coconut Holiday Resort – amazing service and awesome caravan park.

Most expensive petrol Jardine River and Bamaga (Cape York) – $2.55 / litre for normal 91 octane unleaded petrol

Most expensive beer $56 for XXXX Gold cans in Weipa1455152_10152148549311015_337035041_n

Most expensive place in general Ayers Rock Resort

Most expensive campsite Kings Creek Station ($19 per person).

Cheapest Campsite any of the National Park camping in Queensland ($5.45 per person)

Biggest rip-off Jardine River Ferry Crossing Ticket & Permit ($129 to cross the Jardine river – about 40 meters wide)! don’t have much choice though as the crossing is too deep and dangerous to attempt, and infested with crocodiles!

Biggest Adrenalin Rush Palm Creek, Old Telegraph Track (Cape York)

Best 4WD Track Old Telegraph Track, for its diversity. With the slightly damp CREB track a close second

4WD Tracks driven Old Telegraph Track, Frenchmans Track, Battle Camp Road, CREB Track, Oodnadatta Track (in part), Ernest Giles Road, Mereenie Loop (in part).

States travelled to NSW, Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia

What exceeded our expectations Boggy Hole & Uluru

Strangest place Wycliffe Well, NT. Did enjoy our night there, but really is quite a strange little caravan park!

Where we wouldn’t go again Captain Billy’s Landing – the corrugations to get there were back breaking and the howling wind, crashing waves and pouring rain made for a not so fun night! Also the Pebbles (Kunjarra) outside of Tennant Creek – if you’ve ever been to Devils Marbles and also seen the Pebbles, you will understand!

Biggest disappointment That Stewy, Kristy and Rori couldn’t complete the Cape York portion of our trip with us, due to their car problems

What we wouldn’t take with us again The kitchen (our smaller table was sufficient and we never took the larger kitchen bench/table out at all!), the toilet/shower tent, so much food!

6806765_origBest Purchase before the trip Our satellite phone, SPOT tracker

Best 4WD modifications that have made our lives easier for off road travels Rear ARB Air Locker, custom made shelves to replace rear seats, CB radio, Raised King Springs/Bilstein Shocks on Bridgestone tyres & new touring seats.

Scariest Moment Camping at Captain Billy’s Landing – gale force winds, didn’t sleep at all! The severe weather warning of 120km/h winds while camping at Port Augusta, Palm Creek crossing on the tele track!

Nicest people Alice Springs in particular, but Northern Territory as a whole. Although while travelling we had many great encounters with people everywhere!

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The Finke River, NT

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River crossing in Cape York

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Cape York

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Chambers Pillar, NT

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Devils Marbles, NT

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Sunset over Alice Springs

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