Arriving at Wilpena Pound mid afternoon we set up the tent in the campground. We arrived early enough to do one of the bush walks into “the pound” itself. Wilpena is a natural amphitheatre of mountains with only one way in past the pinch point called sliding rock. The pound is 17km long, 8km wide across the valley floor which was formed 600 million years ago. Our walk went past sliding rock which is still the only way in and out up to the restored homestead and pound.
Here are some pictures the start of the walk, some of the gum trees and sliding rock itself.
In the 1870′s and 80′s the pound was used for running sheep but overstocking caused problems. The Hills family cleared the ground and used it to grow wheat in the early 1900′s hoping that the good soil and more regular rainfall would act as an insurance if their other crops failed. It worked to some degree but the topography of the pound meant it was extremely difficult to get the crop out to market in Hawker the nearest town. They had to build a log road from scratch to get bullocks and carts past sliding rock and a swamp and the journey took all day. At Christmas time in 1914 there was a massive storm and resulting flood which washed the road and years of hard work away and that was the end of farming at “the pound.”At the end of the walk was this restored homestead which was once home to the Hills family.
Nowadays it is a resort, campsite and tourist attraction, it is an impressive natural feature and there are many bushwalks to explore the area. As we were staying in the campsite we were allowed to use the resorts swimming pool so we made the most of it. It was quite funny watching the Roo’s and Wallabys around the pool munching on the grass while we swam, they are very good lawnmowers.
The Roo’s, Wallabies and Euro’s around here were very tame and quite cheeky, there were lots of signs asking people not to feed them but it was obvious that some people had as when we started cooking dinner they were hovering around hopefully. It gave us a chance to get some good pictures but we didn’t give them anything. They were also dozing under the bushes on the road in. They hide in the scrub to get out of the heat of the day and they become active at dusk which is why it’s dangerous to drive at night here. There were a lot of Emu’s around as well, they are a huge bird and have as little road sense as kangaroos, the problem with them is they are active during the day.
Next morning we had another early start this was because we wanted to walk up Ohlssen Bagge a “mountain” ish at 923m and look down on the pound and surrounding views. We left 8am and enjoyed a fairly cool walk to the summit where we munched the last of the oaty biscuits Josie had made for us, they tasted even better after our climb. We spent about an hour enjoying the view and the wildlife before we headed down, the walk and views were awesome and it was well worth the climb.
Next day we got off the bitumen and headed deeper into the park, we were rewarded with some spectacular scenery and great riding. While we stopped to take some pictures a couple of loaded up dirtbikes rode past, it didn’t take long however for curiousity to turn them around when they saw the bike.
Stewart and Tom were out practising for their up coming 10 week charity ride from Holland to Vladivostok, they are nice guys and we had a good chat and swapped details and promised to catch up when we got to their home town of Adelaide. Before they left we managed to get a photo together. Their website is www.chariotsforcharity.com if you are interested. Here is a picture of us all and some of the views.
The rest of the day was spent exploring the park and Brachina gorge, the geology in there was incredible. Our route led us along millions of years of history and was formed when the whole region was at the bottom of a shallow inland sea. Our exploration along the river beds allowed us to view some of the oldest exposed rocks on the planet which range in age from 500 to 800 million years old. There are some photo’s below but they don’t do the colours justice as the sun was high in the sky by then. We saw some rocks that were duck egg blue and some that were maroon the like of which we have never seen.The last picture is our campsite at Aroona.
During our ride through the gorge we stopped for photo’s frequently, on one of those stops we met Denis Smith who was setting up for a night time shoot.
Denis’s project is called “ball of light”, he was in a high pressure sales job which almost burnt him out, now makes his living from photography which he says literally saved his life. He has a website www.balloflight.com which is worth a look.
It’s a really different way of looking at photography called “light painting”. We got all inspired and had a play with our torches a few days later but sadly our camera does not have a B setting (unlimited exposure) which is kinda important. As you will see we achieved something using a 15 second exposure but we are amateurs next to Denis, it’s something I would love to play around with some more in the future when time and equipment allow.
We stayed at Aroona the next day too which gave us a chance to do some bush walking and explore the area some more. There was the remains of an old homestead from the 1800′s and another hut. The ranges in the picture framed the campsite, by walking up the the homestead remains we could get an unobstructed view of the hills as the sun went down and made them glow.
There was also a great walk up to Red Hill which gave us a spectacular 360 deg view of the surrounding ranges with Wilpena in the far distance. The walk took us along a dry river bed which gave us the chance to look at more of the geology which makes this area so special. Karen is the small red dot in the river bed in the first picture and the ripples were formed by the water now forever etched into the rock. The last part made us puff but it was worth it for the amazing views.
On the way back to the campsite there was a side track which went to a viewpoint famous for being one of the subjects of Australian artist Hans Heysen. Walking up to the viewpoint a huge shadow passed overhead, looking up we saw a wedge tailed eagle settle on top of a tree before swooping back over us. They are huge birds and are capable of taking down kangaroos and other similar sized animals.
The next day we struck camp and starting heading down again toward Adelaide. We loved the Flinders Ranges and were glad we took the time to explore them.
Next up: Alligator gorge and Mt Remarkable.