Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

The Flinders Ranges – 4WD, emus and yellow footed rock wallabies

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on December 2, 2011

Elder Range Panorama

Rawnsley Bluff Panorama

Gorge section of walk

Dan tying forest onto car

Start of Wilpena Pound walk

Hi Everyone,

When we left Port Augusta  it was raining but not enough to be useful for say washing the car, just enough to actually make the car more dirty! We passed through some beautiful and undulating countryside and saw some magnificent rock walls that were supporting railway tracks.  They were actually part of the Pichi Richi Railwayline which now runs as a tourist railway.  We spied some very dead trees just waiting to be cut up so we stopped to grab some wood and decided that tonight would be a roast night! After loading up the car we were listening to the UHF radio and heard a few cars coming towards us, with one of them remarking “Look they’ve got a

Old Wilpena Homestead

forest on their roof!”. We laughed and told them it was a magic forest…..they went very quiet and we just laughed again.  We stopped for lunch at a park in Hawker which is a lovely, old town.  The weather is still threatening to rain so we pushed on to Wilpena Pound Resortwhere we found there were no powered sites left so unpowered we go. Just have to hope the new batteries will get enough charge from the occasional show by the sun as it’s a national park and no

Burnt out tree

Lookout in Pound

generators are allowed!  We found a great little spot on the edge of the campground and after setting up, the boys got to it using Joel’s new electric chainsaw and cut up all the wood for the fire.  While they were being industrious I headed back to the Visitors centre and tried to get some information about walks and drives in the area.  It is an accredited Visitors Information Centre but trying to get any information was akin to pulling teeth.  We found out more information of the surrounding area from

Hucks Lookout view

visiting Rawnsley Station and Willow Springs! It’s not that the staff weren’t helpful but there just wasn’t a lot of info on 4WD tracks or anything that wasn’t to do with Wilpena Pound.  While the fire was burning and the roast-a-cooking- we played another game of monopoly with the kids.  Before we knew it, it was time to eat and as it was getting quite cool, the hot, roast dinner was delicious and warming.

Next day we decided to do the walk to the actual Wilpena Pound as the sun is shining and it looks to be a beautiful day.  There are several other walks, more like mountainous hikes, that we may do later on.  For the most part, the walk is

Bronze cairn at Stokes Hill Lookout

Geological formations

along a gravel road/track so it’s pretty easy-going with some more challenging sections as you get closer to the old Homestead.  The walk takes you through some beautiful

Brachina Gorge

trees and a bit of a gorge as well. There are a few story boards along the way with information about flora and fauna and some general information about the area too.  The walk is about 8.6km return so we took some lunch with us which was yummy roast beef wraps and some snacks too.  We decided to walk up to the lookouts first and then come back down to the homestead to eat lunch on the verandah.  We climbed to the first lookout and got a good idea of the size of the pound but the next lookout was higher and gave us a magnificent panoramic view of the pound and surrounding

Aroona Valley

Spot the wallaby

ranges too.  It was just gorgeous and the weather was still nice and sunny, so managed to get some really good photos.  We headed back down to the homestead for lunch and ran into the couple we had met earlier from the Cape York trip, who are staying at Wilpena Pound as well, so they lunched with us on the verandah.  We headed back to camp for a rest then decided to go for a drive and have a look around.  We stopped at Huck’s Lookout and then Stokes Hill Lookout for some brilliant views of the Pound and

Yellow footed rock wallaby so cute

surrounding ranges.  At Stokes Hill Lookout there is a bronzed, 3-D cairn of Wilpena Pound which sits on a rock table and has directions and distances of significant ranges, peaks and towns.  We continued on to the Brachina Gorge track and turned onto the gravel just as the rain was starting to fall.  You can follow a geological trail through Brachina Gorge which is like a ‘corridor through time’ as the rocks exposed along

Dad and chick emus on road

Brachina Gorge 2

the gorge are between 500 and 650 million years old. There are about 12 different rock formations or rock units and there are signs and boards of information at the boundary of each one.  The scenery is just amazing and very beautiful, if you like hills and rocks:).  We continued along the bed of the Brachina Gorge marvelling at the sheer beauty and ruggedness of where we were.  It was getting on to late afternoon and the clouds were still rolling in when we spotted a most unusual-looking kangaroo/wallaby.  It turned out to be a very rare yellow-footed rock wallabywhich has yellow paws, feet and a yellow and grey/black striped tail on a grey body.  They also have a distinctive white stripe on their face and are much smaller than a kangaroo. They were so cute and as it was so late in the afternoon we saw heaps of

Brachina Lookout

Amazing rock formations

Bunyeroo Gorge Rd

them as they came down to drink from the creek bed in the gorge as we drove along.  They were so beautiful!  We also saw heaps of emus and several emu families; that is dads and chicks as mum lays the eggs, then dad stays to sit on the eggs and then rears the chicks while mum goes off to find another bloke and start all over again. We also saw heaps red and grey kangaroos and some of the reds were pretty big too. We drove up to Brachina Lookout and stopped to soak up the scenery, grab some snacks and drinks out and continue driving through Bunyeroo Gorge.  It’s still very overcast but we get glimpses of sunshine every now and even thunder

Track through Bunyeroo Gorge

Where we've been

Sun after the rain

and lightning at one of the lookouts, which cracked pretty loudly and close to where we were.  The scenery was still stunning and on a clear, sunny day I imagine it would be magnificent.  The trees and landscape changes from eucalypts to pine trees and more sparse shrubs then closer to the end of the track it changes back to eucalypts.  Sunsets would be amazing on this track but alas we are not going to see any. Maybe better luck tomorrow.  We rocked back late to camp and had leftovers for tea.  Luckily the van isn’t under any trees so the solar panels must have got enough sun from this morning to give us power! The Wilpena Pound

Start of the Arkapena Track

Elder Range in Background

Crazies at the wheel

Resort campground has lovely amenities and the showers are very nice and warm at the end of the day.

Next day we headed down the road about 40km to Rawnsley Park Station to get a permit for the Arkapena Track, which is a self-guided track and costs $40 to do both the AWD and the 4WD sections.  We ummed and ahhed about whether to stay at Wilpena Pound or Rawnsley Station and we basically decided on WP because of the pound and they had Next G service but next time through we would definitely stay here at Rawnsley Park Station.  They have heaps of information about a lot of the 4WD tracks around here, not just their

Views on Arkapena Track

Chace Range

Wilpena Pound view

Dry but beautiful

own! We paid a $10 key deposit and headed off to find the start of the track.  You also get a small booklet which describes the track and various places/things along it in numerical order.  The kids were entrusted to find the numbers and read out the relevant information as we drove along; sort of like a treasure hunt.  It managed to keep them amused ad engaged for a while. The track takes you along the Chace range which is very beautiful.  The rocks are predominantly red-brown Bonney sandstone and orange-red Rawnsley Quartzite.  The different coloured layers are due to the sedimentary layers that were deposited 550-850 million years ago when this area was covered by a shallow ocean.  The first part of the track is AWD and not too bad so we let the kids have a go at driving.  Wade went first, with me in the car with him and Joel out front on video. OMG! There was a steep decent and at an angle which he wasn’t quite able to see over the dash so after a near heart attack by me, he made it safely down the other side.  Then it was Daniel’s turn.  He has been practising every opportunity he gets and actually did a really

Still happy vegemites

Rest time

Prelinna Ascent

Arkapena Track

good job.  Trouble is they just want to do it all day and it would take us forever to finish this track.  Joel stayed on the video and camera and I took the driver’s seat for a while and managed to get in some good 4WDriving myself. We found a tree with some good shade along a creek bed on the side of the track and stopped for lunch. After some more very picturesque and steep 4WDriving we stopped at the Prelinna Lookout which has the most magnificent, panoramic views of many of the ranges in the Central Flinders Ranges.  We signed the visitor’s book that is kept in a road-side mail box, took heaps of photos then swapped back for Joel to drive the rest of the 4WD track so I could take more pictures.  The landscape changes from scrub to eucalypts to native pines.

Prelinna Descent

Awesome place

The remainder of the 4WD section was mostly through native pines and the views just spectacular as the day was lovely and sunny. We stopped at Pugilist Hill Lookout on our way out for some spekky views of both the Chace and Elder Ranges and the Wilpena Pound. The e clouds are rolling in so we headed back to drop off the key at Rawnsley Station then back to camp.  Pugilist Hill would be a fantastic spot for sunset photos but with the amount of cloud rolling in there just wouldn’t be any sky to colour!  Back at camp the kids went for an explore around the huge park on their bikes, Joel went for a run and I went for a walk.

Pugilist Hill panorama

We woke to rain so decided not to stay here for another day but to head over to Willow Springs Stationfor a few nights as there is another 4WD track there to do.  We filled our water tanks at Wilpena while we dodged the rain then drove a whole 15kms to Willow Springs Station. At the entrance to the property there is a huge wing made of steel and what looks like the blades from an old windmill.  It is quite striking and beautiful in a rustic sort of way. We were lucky and managed to snag a great caravan site near the toilet block and the nicest camp kitchen I have ever seen!  It even has a stove so I might even get to cook a cake

Willow Springs Station Entrance

Camp at Willow Springs

Very cool eagle sculpture

this afternoon. There are a number of other metal sculptures around the station which are very tasteful and interesting.  There are no powered sites but we are allowed to use the generator, which is good as there is so much cloud cover and rain that the solar panels won’t be giving us much in the way of power tonight.  We decided to go for a drive out to Blinman and we stopped at the General Store for some yummy home-made beef pies and I tried a warm quandong pie.  They were absolutely delicious! The quandong is often called a wild or native peach but cooks up like rhubarb and is often used in pies and jams.  Yummo!!  It’s still quite cool and

Blinman-Glass gorge track

Parachilna Gorge

Flat, flat, flat to Parachilna

FMG - feral mixed grill at pub

raining but we decided to continue on to Parachilna via Glass Gorge.  The track was a clay sludge but then the rain stopped and the clouds cleared a bit so we could see some of the beautiful scenery and

Prairie Hotel at Parachilna

See almost no cloud

Start of Morelana Drive with clouds

gorgeous views.  We drove out through Parachilna Gorge, passing some campers camped in the creek bed which looked like a nice spot. As we drove out of the ranges the change in countryside was amazing; just flat, flat and more flat!  We passed a sign for the Prairie Hotelat Parachilna that serves the famous FMG = feral mixed grill, which is a  mixed grill of kangaroo fillet, emu fillet mignon and camel sausage served on a bed of mash.  We

were keen but once we got to the pub and saw the serving size, we opted for smaller burgers instead as we were still full from the pies.  Across the road from the pub is the railway

There's a mountain in there somewhere

rain, rain and mud

Great mud puddles

line with a few history story boards of the line which were quite interesting.  It was as sunny as with little-to-no-clouds in the sky when we left the Prairie Hotel but by the time we had driven 45kms to the Morelana Dr turnoff the clouds had returned.  We set off along this gravel dirt road which passes between the southern side of Wilpena Pound on the left and the Elder Range on the right-hand-side.  It is absolutely gorgeous country here but as we kept driving we noticed it getting very dark.  We stopped at Black Gap to get some shots of the Elder Range but the clouds had come in so fast and low that it started to rain and boy did it rain.  We drove

Skytrek gorge start

5 mins later-sunshine

Stokes hill lookout

Water ripple rock

nice and slow for a while as it was raining cats-and-dogs and the road was getting very wet and boggy.  Another 10 mins and 10km later and the sun was back out shinning and the rain gone.  The weather is having a lot of trouble making up its mind today!!!  Back to camp and after a chicken fettuccini dinner we showered in the semi-outdoors showers which have an amazing view of the night sky.  The next day we had planned to do Skytrek but with low cloud and rain we decided to wait another day and see if the weather improves as it’s cold and crappy today.  The boys made us pancakes for brekky and we spent most of the day watching the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I made a white chocolate cake mix that had been in the camp box since the cape trip and cooked it in the oven in the camp kitchen. It was very yummy too! We drove up to Stokes Hill Lookout as it is the only place with phone reception so I could ring my twin niece and nephew, Abby and Harry, for their birthday and the sun was out for a visit. Everyday we drive around we have seen heaps of emus and wallabies – it is truly a nature-lovers paradise.

Old shearers' hut

Carpets of yellow wildflowers

Kids take on a Toyota ad

They blend well

The sun came out nice and bright for us in morning so we jumped up early to get started on Skytrek as it will take about 8 hours to complete it.  It costs $75 to do the trek and we’d already paid and got the

Rocky landscape

Some good 4WDriving

lunch break on Skytrek

Ascent to Mt Caernarvon

key for the gates so off we went.  There were a few other cars doing it today as well whom we met at a few of the stops along the way.  The Reynolds family owns the Station and run the Skytrek as well which runs mostly on their property but some of it runs across a privately owned section as well.  You get a great

Cairn at Mt Caernarvon

Down we go

Fantastic views on way down

folder about the trek which has points of interest and lots of information about the drive, landscape, local flora and fauna and history too.  The kids were ‘tour-guides, following the travel guide and reading out the information on each of the points of interest and view stops until we stopped for lunch.  They lost a bit of interest after that and we didn’t push it as we had left at 8:45am and returned at 5pm so it was a long day!  We stopped for lunch at the recommended place, cooked sausages in bread and soaked up the ambience of the

Yukkas - grass trees

Another view of Wilpena Pound

Adding our rocks to the pile

place.  It was an incredible drive with a lot of it not accessible unless you have a low range and high clearance 4WD. The track is one-way which is a good thing as some of the ascents and descents don’t really allow much room for one vehicle let-alone two! We stopped at the top of Mount Caernarvon where we met up with our fellow travellers again.  The views were breathtaking and the weather just perfect.  Daniel was happy as we had Next G service so he could post on Facebook! The track tends to run along the top edge of the ranges with magnificent views then the last of it coming back down.  We decided to take the short detour drive and walk

Skull rock

Camp kitchen at Willow Springs

Rawnsley Bluff panorama

out to skull rock, of which the mud-map is included on the rear of the Skytrek notes. For all the phantom fans out there is a

Mt Caernarvon panorama

place called skull rock, which is a calcium build up between two rocks that resembles “skull rock’, home of the phantom.  Back on the track and headed back to camp. We checked out the van, pumped up the tyres on the car and got ready for heading out tomorrow.  The kids are off playing snipers and army games with their nerf guns while Joel and I work on planning the next part of the trip.

We packed up and headed back to Port Augusta.  We stopped at the Rawnsley Lookout and managed to snap some lovely shots of Rawnsley Bluff and the front side of Wilpena Pound. We got to Port Augusta just on lunchtime, booked in, put on some washing, left the kids to do some schoolwork while Joel and I arranged our trip to Kangaroo Island.

Till Next Time



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