20 March Wednesday
After a good 8am breakfast, we filled up with diesel and were on our way. We used 90 liter diesel for the desert crossing, which gives us an average of 16.5l/100km. Not bad, if you bear in mind that we were in 4 wheel drive, with deflated tyres and soft sand all the way.
Now for the long road back. Following the Birdsville Track to Maree for 517 km, across the Tirari- and Sturt Stony- Deserts.
This track can also be very dangerous and is notorious for the flash floodings that can occur there. This is quite a boring road. Absolutely no plant life, only stones and rocks. All the same dark brown brick colour. Surprisingly the cattle along the road are in a very good condition, I have no idea what they eat.
How do they live, what do they eat?
Halfway along the way we stopped and slept over at the Mungerannie Hotel, which also has a thermal spring, but, it was much too hot for swimming. The picturesque lake with it’s lavish surrounding plant life and abundance of bird life was a pleasant unexpected surprise.
Mungerannie Hotel, thermal spring
But…. don’t forget the millions of flies! It was a pleasant place to stay with good food and an intriguing character, Phil, who owns and runs the place, barefoot. The nights entertainment in the pub included a few films of the history of Tom Kruse who was kinda famous in this part of the world where he made and tamed the Birdsville Track.
21 March Thursday
Phil served us an superb breakfast we were on our way again, to Maree. After lunch, at the Maree Hotel we were once again hit the road.
Miles and miles of endless rocks, sand and the odd emu along the road. These emus have the strange, bad habit of running alongside your vehicle and then they suddenly swerve right in front of you, can be quite dangerous. We are aiming to get to Coopers Creek, a dry river bed on the western border of the Flinders Range, where we are planning to camp over night. Our last night of camping on this trip. Some mixed feelings about that.
22 March Friday
We left the camp site at 8.30 am. Two of our group left us, to push on directly to Sydney. The rest of us decided first to go and explore the Flinders Range National Park and aim for a sunset arrival at Port Augusta. The Flinders Range is the largest mountain range in South Australia. The park encompasses some of the most spectacular scenery in South Australia.
The Flinders Ranges are mainly composed of folded and faulted sediments of the Adelaide Geosyncline. It was not as a result of a meteorite or volcano, but, basically a large mountain that weathered away.
We made a stop at the Blinman General Store for coffee. Blinman is quite a quaint little town where it seems as if nothing ever happens.
Blinman General Store
From here we travelled through the Sacred Aboriginal Canyon, which is 19 km from the Wilpena Pound Resort. Wilpena Pound is the most characteristic landmark of the Flinders Range. It’s a large, sickle- shaped, natural amphitheatre, covering nearly 80 square kilometres. The high walls of Wilpena Pound are formed by the outcroppings of the eponymous Pound Quartzite in a synclinal structure.
A short pleasant hike up the very narrow dry creek takes you up the Sacred Aboriginal Canyon and past majestic river red gums to where the rock engravings are.
The Adnyamathanha people of this area believe engravings were not made by people but were created for them by ancestral beings during the “Dreaming”.
From there we went to the Stokes Hill Lookout which is approximately 20km north of Blinman, on the Hawker road. Here you are offered a spectacular panoramic view of Wilpena Pound.
Passing through the ABC range, we head towards the Brachina Gorge.
The ABC range was so called because they thought there were 26 peaks… same amount of letters as the alphabet, which was later discovered to be far too few, there were many more. But, the name stayed. The Brachina Gorge is a spectacular and passes through millions of years of earth history. It is also named “The Corridor Through Time” due to the sedimentary layering and uplifting from the period between 520 and 640 million years ago. The geology includes meteorite debris from 480 million years ago.
The town of Hawker was our next stop where the Jeff Morgan Gallery is a “must see”. Jeff completed his 360 degree Wilpena Panorama in 2003 and he became one of a small number of panoramic artists in the world officially recognized by the International Panorama Council.