Saturday, September 1, 2018

Homeward Bound

So - the last few days have passed in a blur.

From Wilpena we headed to Quorn and Wilmington where we refueled and made a detour to Alligator Gorge at the northern end of Mount Remarkable National Park. The road in is a steep roller-coaster climb - sealed - and with a sudden glimpse to the south west of a distant Spencer Gulf.

Alligator Gorge is somewhere we'd visited in the past and is the terminus for a walk thru the national park to Mambray Creek Campgound - where we headed next.

We caught up with Jock and Paula at Mambray Creek Campgound and had a lovely evening around the campfire discussing our travels.  Alas this was to be our last night of camping on this trip! 😞

Next day - after handing over the rest of our firewood to Jock and Paula - they headed towards Port Augusta and then on to the Flinders - we headed south to Cystal Brook then east to Burra. The landscape on this section of the drive was remarkably green. Early wheat was sprouting in all directions, interspersed with bright splashes of yellow Canola. It provided quite a contrast to the overwhelming dryness we'd experienced over the previous weeks.

Burra provided a dose of coffee and cuteness. Another country town that clearly depended on tourists/travelers to keep the place going.

The creek flowing thru the town provided another splash of colour.

From Burra - on to Morgan where we started following the mighty Murray River as is meandered across the land, leaving large isolated billabongs and wetlands in its wake. Berri for a late lunch and then to Renmark for the night. Cheap overnight accommodation at the Renmark Golf Resort and an excellent evening  drink (or two) followed by Thai dinner on the Murray River Queen.

A good time was had by all....

Next morning, after a brief pause in Renmark for breakfast we ploughed on eastwards. Overnight the weather had deteriorated, with a cold front moving thru and the promise of rain in the air. The grey weather combined with total immersion in our audio-book - The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carré - resulted in the km's unraveling at a steady rate. Mildura (stopping for bags of citrus) - Balranald (lunch) - Hay - and finally Narrandera where we called it quits for the day and booked ourselves into a motel that had a microwave, toaster and digital TV. The microwave took care of dinner and the toaster took care of breakfast as we consumed the last of our provisions supplemented by a few items from the supermarket and a six-pack from the Bottle-O. 

BTW - Narrandera has a special place in Celeste's heart. For a period of time she did a road trip for work thru the Riverina in a van full of ultra-sound equipment.

And so - the final leg. A leisurely drive thru showers and rain - stopping in Junee to visit the Licorice Factory - yum. Again we were surprised at how green this stretch of road was. Must have had some rain over winter as the wheat was sprouting everywhere. Combined with the rain today - maybe farmers in this area will have a reasonable summer?

Home in the rain - 9,920 km round trip door to door. Before departure I had estimated 10,000km. However the 80 km shortfall can be attributed to NOT visiting the Dinosaur Stampede site outside Winton - we will save that for next time!

A last and abiding image from this trip......

Now to start planning the next.....

Monday, August 27, 2018

Ikara-Flinders - Pounding Wilpena

Tonight will be our 4th night in Ikara-Flinders National Park.
From Leigh Creek we turned east into the Parachilna Gorge where we free camped up a creek bed off the road. Very quiet night under an almost full moon.
Next morning on to Blinman - an old copper mining town. Not much left of its past, just a few old buildings, signage and a pub. (Always a pub). There was also a bakery with fresh baked bread (white only), delicious cakes and passable coffee.

Down south towards Wilpena and into the National Park proper. SA Parks are trying to force visitors to book campsites online. No ability to turn up and self register, leaving your fees in an envelope on site. Now you're supposed to do it online, which requires mobile coverage  which is of course non existant. Stupid system which we ignore. 2nd night we camp at Koolamon Campground up the Aroona Valley along to Heysen Range. This is where we camped with the boys and  Bill and Marie way back when Leigh was 8 years old and we all hiked up the Heysen Range ridge.....
Pics to follow as they need to be uploaded from camera as opposed to pics from phone.
Slept under the open sky. No tent. Just our stretchers under the moonlight. Wonderful. I wonder if Heysen ever painted his eponymous mountains by moonlight?
A drive thru and back again of Brachina Gorge, traversing a geological landscape measured in millions of years per kilometre.  In the morning light with longer shadows an astonishing sight.

Followed the back road to Wilpena pausing at Two Gums Lookout to admire the view. The extensive groves of native cypress trees and flush of fresh green grass providing an appearance almost at odds with what we normally expect from the Australian Outback.

Wilpena Pound Campground for two nights. Hot showers, laundry facilities, cold beer and wifi - almost civilised.
Tonight a Welcome to Country at the resort and a restaurant meal with the cold beer. Tomorrow back on the road towards Mt Remarkable and a (hopefully) rendezvous with Paula and Jock. They're heading this way but we (alas) are heading east and homeward bound.