FLINDERS RANGES, SOUTH AUSTRALIA, PART 3

Wed., 30th August

Quorn, The Dutchman’s Stern (10.6 km and about 400m climb) , Rawnsley Park

As mentioned in my last post, after completing the Hidden Gorge hike we drove to a very nice camp ground at Quorn and took a cabin for the night.   This campground had a real charm and feeling of peace.  something to do with its layout, I think,  and the many beautiful and huge old gum trees round about which caught the light as only gum trees can.

Our cabin was most comfortable and another stunning day dawned, starting off with the first bird calls.  Stuck my head out of the door : ice on the windscreen, the nearby birdbath a block of ice. Deep blue sky, cloudless, crystal clear air, birds calling, beauty of light on trunks of gum trees. A great day.   What a place. What a life.

Left at 8.00 am, Drove to Dutchman’s Stern car park. At the car park we met 3 elderly women bushwalkers in the process of leaving water and food supplies for their forthcoming Heysen Trail walk from the northern terminus to the southern one, over 1000 km. They said this was one of a number of re-supply points for them.

We set off up the Dutchman’s Stern. An easy, well-graded trail. Once again a wealth of wildflowers. The views opened out and then near the high point of the walk we came across some goats!   At the high point the views were amazing.   North to the distant Flinders Ranges, east across the plains, but in front of us, the line of the ridge fell sheer away in cliffs to the most incredible, contorted hills and steep gullies, with Spencers Gulf and the vast plains beyond. We had morning tea up there, lingering from 10 to 10.30 am and were enjoying it when a young couple from Adelaide came up.  We had a brief chat before they pushed on

After morning tea we continued on the walk, continuing on the south side of a long ridge above a gorge flanked by screes and red cliffs on the further side. Saw more goats.

Back at the car at noon, drove back to Quorn for lunch in the “park”.   A cool wind blowing and we needed jackets. Tried to buy some red wine but that proved difficult. Eventually bought a cask of cheap red, all they had, from one of the pubs. Not much to Quorn.

Drove on to Hawker and then on to Rawnsley Park.where we arrived at 3.50 pm.  This part of the journey was unbelievably flat. It is hard to imagine anyone trying to farm this arid, and rocky ground, bare earth interspersed with spinnifex and saltbush.   Barren as barren can be. But once upon a time people did try to farm here, north of the “Goyder Line”, beguiled by a few good seasons. Then they all suffered and the population dispersed. We stopped at the ruins of the one- time settlement of Wilson, between Quorn and Wilson, actually at the station masters house beside the old railway line north. In 1894-6 the peak primary school roll was 50 pupils. In 1900 some 70 people lived in or near the township and an additional 20 farm families within 8 km.  The township contained a church, school, post office, hotel, general store, butcher, greengrocer, blacksmith, saddler, and carpenter. Then normal drought conditions returned. In 1933 the post office and general store closed, in 1942, the school and hotel closed, the final wheat crop was in 1947 and in 1954 the last resident left.

Slowly, as we approached Rawnsley ranges of hills loomed ever larger. The colours of these hills are beautiful: pink, mauve, soft blue.

The camping and caravan park at Rawnsley is large, widespread.   The camping area is awful, spread out, far from the amenities. The camp sites are bare gravel without shade trees, and while level, are on a very exposed hillside, bare and bleak and windswept, although the views across to Rawnsley Bluff and Wilpena Pound are wonderful. The only decent camp site is down on the creek and about a 4 minute walk from the bathroom block. We looked at this, but it was so close to the caravan area that we were uncertain that it was in the bush camping area, so we drove on. Thoroughly disillusioned by what we found, we returned to this site only to find that someone else had taken it, We camped further up this dry creek, but it was not a good site. I was most despondent. The ground under my tent, although had appeared level, was in fact quite lumpy, as I found out during the night.   But the worst problem was getting the pegs in. It was impossible as wherever one tried there were only rocks below.

The late light on the peaks in front of us was magical as the sun started to set. .

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Dutchman’s Stern. near Quorn, from the road.  Photo taken on our way back to Quorn

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From the car park

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Also from the car park

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Looking back from the ascent up Dutchmans Stern

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Silver Mulla Mulla , Ptilotus obovatus.   I love this small bush.  It was growing everywhere up here, and it catches the light and gleams.

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Looking back.  acacias in bloom

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A rocky window to the north as we climb

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On the way up.  a view to the north.

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Not far from the top we surprised some goats who surprised us!

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On the summit is this plate with the compass bearings to various landmarks, as well as an explanation of the name of the hill.

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24 IMG_1048The summit rises slightly from what is almost a small plateau.  The path brings one to this plateau and one instinctively moves over to the edge.  I did so  and gasped.  The edge drops away vertically, but more than that , one is faced with the most contorted and twisted series of peaks and steep slopes and gullies imaginable.  It is this, which is so unexpected and so very different that made me gasp.

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The view which made me gasp!  In the distance is Spencers Gulf.

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The edge of this summit plateau is very jagged and hangs over space, with vertical cliffs beneath

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The summit area.  Note the coppery tones of the new leaves on the gum trees.

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The small plateau just before the summit.

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Looking across to what I think are salt pans lying south of what is now the salt lake of Lake Torrens

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Our return route took us down the side of a small gorge.

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On the side of the gorge we came across quite a large area of Daisy Bush, Olearia sp.

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More goats!   There were several kids with this group.

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Silver Mulla Mulla,  Ptilotus obovatus.   I would love to have patches of this in my garden.  It is so light and shivery with silver light, yet, close up, is beautifully shot through with purple

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I think this is a Rock Sida (Sida sp)

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We drove back to Quorn to have our lunch in the dessicated park, and then tried to buy some red wine.  Not easy.  Eventually we were able to get a cask of cheap red from a pub.  We also stopped at the old railway station and saw the following sign

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The Ghan is the name given to the Adelaide to Darwin railway.

 

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And so we headed north once more, from Quorn, through Hawker to Rawnsley Park.   Endless space and often flat as a board country, with a scarcity of ground cover, and fascinating ranges of hills coming up over the horizon

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In the distance you can see ruined dwellings.  This was once the thriving settlement of Wilson.  Notwithstanding the clear message of “the Goyder Line”  farming pushed northwards beyond it, beguiled by abnormally good seasons, which also saw the development of Wilson.  then came the crunch – seasons reverted to normal drought conditions

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Wilson

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Still in Wilson

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Stationmaster’s house

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Looking towards Rawnsley Bluff and Wilpena Pound

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Rawnsley Bluff

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Rawnsley Bluff from our camp site at Rawnsley Park

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From our camp site at Rawnsley Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

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