Leaving Port Lincoln we headed up the East side of the Eyre Peninsular passing by several dried up salt pans and eventually through to Whyalla where we stopped to fuel up and have a look at this WW2 Corvette which is on display next to the maritime museum 2km from the sea. Whyalla has a huge steelworks which dominates the town and is the reason why the BSP shipyard is also here.
The information site told us there was a free campsite beyond Whyalla at Point Lowly so we headed there as the day was getting on. Point Lowly looks out over the Spencer gulf and we could easily see towns on the other side that we will eventually be heading too. Matthew Flinders and Louis Claude de Freycinet sailed and mapped Point Lowly on their English and French reconnaissance voyages in 1802 and 1803 respectively.
It was a beautiful setting but windy as so we hunkered down in amongst the grey nomads where we were offered some freshly caught crab. We had just started to cook our lamb chops for dinner but they thought the crabs would keep for tomorrow so we gratefully accepted some.
The next day we passed through Port Augusta and visited Wadlata Outback Centre. It contained a wealth of information including displays about the life of the early pioneers and settlers and the flora, fauna and geology of South Australias outback regions. It made us eager to explore the Flinders ranges our next destination. Here are some pictures of a couple of the exhibits and Karen trying out a pedal powered radio designed for outback cattle stations. Many children were and still are educated by the school of the air, a radio teaching service.for children in remote areas with no schools. Most of the main highways are named after the early explorers who travelled that route. John McDouall Stuart led the first successful expedition to traverse the Australian mainland from the south to the north and return. The Stuart highway is his legacy.
Because we spent several hours looking around we didn’t leave the centre until 4pm hence we didn’t cover much ground and found ourself close to Warren Gorge. It was a nice spot and we were also allowed to camp there for free so we decided to call it a day and stay.
We soon discovered Warren Gorge is home to one of the biggest colonies of rare yellow footed rock wallabies. These cute little rock hoppers have quite different sandy yellow markings to most other wallabies and a banded tail, they are incredibly agile and climb seeming impassable rock faces and cliffs.
The gorge itself was beautiful and like most of this region was formed during the Cambrian period 500 million years ago when the hard quartzite layers were compressed, uplifted and fractured forming the ranges and exposed the softer mudstone and shale layers which eroded away forming the valleys and plains. At Warren gorge the quartzite layers are nearly vertical but they run at different angles in different areas giving this region it’s unique beauty. Here are some pictures of the gorge, the last picture is Karen preparing the crab we were given at Point Lowly for tea.
As I write this a month later the front food box still smells faintly of crab, it was delicious though.
The towns were getting smaller and more interesting, we passed through Quorn stopping to look at the historic railway station and some of the shops. The station served the original Great Northern Railway unofficially christened The Ghan after the Afghan Camel drivers who were the only link to the interior before the line was opened. It was started in 1878 and took until 1929 to reach Alice Springs, the route was beset with problems with rail bucking heat, sand and floods and it symbolised the spirit of the first settlers and their dreams and heartbreaks. The line was still maintained up until 1970.
The original line was replaced in 1956 for a specially constructed all weather track but the new train is still nick-named the Ghan.
We saw a sign for Yourambulla caves down a dirt road and pulled over, we were not sure if it was worth the distraction but eventually decided to go for a look and we were glad we did. The name derives from yura bila which means two men in the local Adnymathana language and refers to the two peaks near here which represent two ancestral companions who camped at this place while travelling in the dreamtime. The cave paintings were interesting here being more of an indication of who had camped here, what they had eaten or seen and were almost like a message board. There was a sign explaining what the various symbols meant and we spent a couple of hours exploring the various sites and admiring and de-cyphering the paintings . The rocks and the views here were also stunning.
Next up the amazing Flinders ranges