ARKAROOLA TO CANBERRA
FLINDERS RANGES PART 7 – ARKAROOLA TO CANBERRA.
Wed., 6th Sept. Arkaroola to Peterborough.
Originally, Megan was keen to take the road alongside Lake Frome to Yunta near Broken Hill, but after talking to people at Arkaroola and finding that it was very remote, little used and very boring, we decided against it.
Set off at 8.00 am. Another superb morning. Took the road to Leigh Creek. Better gravel road than our inward route, but nowhere near as scenic. Wouldn’t come this way again. Great scenery as we went through the Gammon Ranges. Then pretty dull. Did see an emu with 5 chicks. Also saw herds of goats which must be eating this country to death. Didn’t go all the way to Leigh Creek as it lies a little beyond the main road. However, we stopped at the small settlement of Copley which is nearly as nice as Blinman. Here there is a large and very nice caravan park with tent spaces and cabins and also a bakery and café. The timing was perfect. We went in and bought huge homemade pies for dinner and also coffees and quandong tarts which we enjoyed at a table in the sun. The couple who run the place are extremely pleasant, friendly and most welcoming. Once again, we asked for frozen pies.
Travelling south was magical. Beautiful light, just a few slow-moving cumulous to create interesting shadows and depth, the plains level and stretching forever, hour after hour, the somewhat yellowish sparse vegetation glittering in the sun, while to our left those fantastic mountains with their incredible shapes and magical colours of pale pink, red, mauve, soft blue, dark blue and grey gradually coming up to us from being vague , low shapes on the horizon , taking on form and colour and bewitching us.
But by the time we arrived at Hawker we were running out of the bewitching magical country. Had lunch at Hawker, then onwards.
Arrived Peterborough at 4.00 pm and booked into a cabin at the caravan park.
There was a lot of roadkill today and so we saw many wedge-tailed eagles which took off as we approached. Often 4-5 eagles at one carcass. Soon they will forget how to find their own food!
Walked into the town. Little there, and very much down at heel. Megan misread the map (she claims the street signpost was wrong!) and took us on a very long walk into town. I nearly walked into a car as it reversed out of a driveway, while the driver’s husband , watching from beside his car parked on the street, was much amused. He and I had a few friendly words. Laughs. Good caravan park, though.
Early morning light shortly after leaving Arkaroola
A hill we couldn’t resist photographing
Gammon Ranges – early light – not far from Arkaroola
Gammon Ranges not far from Arkaroola
Eagle-eyed driver Megan noticed this emu and chicks and pulled up. The adult bird can just be seen in front of the chicks
They were very hard to photograph as the female had them moving quickly and taking advantage of the vegetation. Even though at one point I was still about 15 metres from them she turned to face me, stretched up her neck and fluffed up her feathers. I retreated!
Note the stripes on the chicks.
Approaching the neat but tiny settlement of Copley
Copley is just ahead and to the right.
A lovely morning and that table and chairs are calling for coffee and homemade quandong tarts and some pleasant relaxation.
there should be more places like Blinman and Copley, and super bakery/cafes with homemade food and lovely people running them.
After Copley, the long, mesmerising drive to Hawker. On our right, hour after hour, the incredible plains, while ahead and to our left , hour after hour, the incredible mountains loom from the far far distance to become places of mystery and magical colours
And so we come to the small town of Hawker where we have lunch
Thursday 7th Sept.
Peterborough to Broken Hill
Very boring route. Miles and miles of nothing. Broken Hill a dilapidated small town. Took a cabin at the Lake View Caravan Park. Got to BH at lunch time (12.45 ) so had lunch in the town centre. Booked into the caravan park and then took a drive, 20 km, to Silverton. Much lauded in the tourist literature, but really nothing there, apart from the old school room. Very disappointed that there is no mining history to see in BH, no trips down the big mines. In fact, there is nothing in this struggling and declining town. The town is trying to re-invent itself with art galleries.
However, from Friday through Sunday the town was booked out as it was running a commemoration of the movie “ Priscilla – Queen of the Desert “ with special train trips from Sydney.
We stopped at Olary for petrol Megan had bought petrol at Arkaroola but it hadn’t suited her car, for warning lights came on about filters etc. Only as she used up this petrol and replaced it did the warning messages go off.
Olary Hotel and the vastness of the plains
Everyone stays at this hotel!
Olary and the vastness of the plains
We passed a convoy of tractors making for Broken Hill and the Priscilla Queen of the Desert festival
Friday, 8h Sept
Broken Hill to Hay
Morning tea at Wentworth on the Murray. Lunch at Euston, also on the Murray. Euston is another tiny settlement. Here we bought cold meat and salad rolls for lunch which we ate beside the river. Arrived Hay 4.40 pm, same cabin as last time. While eating our dinner the TV went off. Given the notice about signals in this remote area we thought nothing of it. However, all stations were still out in the morning, so we left a note for Trevor with the key. A couple of hours later Megan’s phone went off. Later she rang him back and he told us that the person in the adjacent cabin had turned off a booster to the TV in our cabin! He was most apologetic.
Half way or more or less between Wentworth and Broken Hill we stopped at a roadside toilet and also took photos of some seemingly endless drab plains we had been crossing since leaving Broken Hill
“the seemingly endless, drab plains”. We saw dozens of goats along the road here.
Morning tea at Wentworth beside the Murray River.
Lunch beside the Murray River at tiny Euston
Saturday, 9th Sept.
Hay to Canberra, via Narrandera, (toilet stop here and a quick look at the Tiger Moth in the museum) Morning tea at Coolamon in the park opposite the lovely old pub. It was cold this morning! Cootamundra, (lunch in the park). Binalong, Yass. Much more attractive route than along the Hume Highway. Arrived Canberra about 3.30 pm. Snow on Mt Gingera.
Megan stayed a couple of days before heading home and on one day we did a bushwalk.
Morning tea in this little park at Coolamon, opposite the historic old hotel
Fields of Canola between Cootamundra and Binalong.
This ( The Flinders Ranges) is one of the most incredible and beautiful places I have ever been to and I would love to return there for a month to walk and explore and photograph. If one is lucky enough to live in Adelaide then access is easy, with Melrose only about 3 hours drive from there. Rather than going to any of the cities, the Flinders Ranges should be top priority for any visitor to Australia . The Gammon Ranges take ones breath away. However, one really needs to get out of the car and walk here to really appreciate it.
Unfortunately, tourism and development generally is pushing its way into the Outback. Increasing numbers of amenities, camp grounds, caravan parks, hotels, motels, and numbers of coaches each carrying 50 people, sealed roads, will soon ruin the real beauty of the Outback. The real beauty is not seen from a car or a coach, but to see and to experience the remoteness, the spaciousness, the vastness. How can remoteness, spaciousness and vastness as well as beauty, be experienced, be felt, have any impact on the human mind and soul, when it becomes just another tourist playground, cocooned from what is actually there?
Barrie, 3 Oct. 2017