RT2022: Back Home

The Flinders Ranges at Arkaroola

Having arrived back home on Friday, I have spent the intervening time unpacking and adjusting to the colder and wetter weather. There is still much to do including piles of washing and giving the trailer a good spring clean to try to remove the worst of the red dust. But first, I have the last few days of our trip to report on.

As I mentioned at the end of the last post, we left Muloorina on Friday 29 August and headed for Arkaroola, located at the north end of the Flinders Ranges. Our final plan came together as we were driving from Copley – it was to spend one night in the shearers’ quarters at the SA Parks Balcanoona Offices, one night at a bush camp and two nights at Arkaroola Village.

When we arrived at the SA Parks offices, we were told that the shearers’ quarters had to be booked online and, of course, there was no internet access there. Because of this, we couldn’t book the campground either. As it looked like the shearers’ quarters were available on the Monday night, we decided on the bush camp first, two nights at Arkaroola and then one night at the shearers’ quarters.

Weetootla Gorge

Without booking, we headed to the Weetootla Gorge Campground, hoping that it was not full – we need not have worried! The 5km track off the main road was one of the worst we had been over, with a few dry river crossings and many challenging ‘off-road’ obstacles. When we arrived, there were only four other campers, all very spread out.

As Arkaroola was not far, we decided to spend some time the next morning to walk part of the Balcanoona Creek track (not having enough time to complete the full circuit). Following the creek, this was an easy walk with one of the more interesting features being Hells Gate, which I was so overawed with, I forgot to photograph it!. But here is another view of the gorge:

Being the first of a few Flinders Ranges hikes, it introduced us to how well the tracks are signposted and the regularity of informative signage. Returning just before lunchtime, we packed up the trailer and headed for the campground at Arkaroola Village.

Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary

Arkaroola Village is the focal point of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, with a choice of accommodation options. It also featured a shop, a bar and a restaurant. After setting up the trailer in the unpowered area, our first task was to book the shearers’ quarters. Unfortunately, they were fully booked for the Monday night, so we should have done it the other way round, such is life! Instead, we decided to leave on Monday anyway and head for Alpana Station 7km south of Blinman.

On Saturday night we were treated to the nightly feeding of the Yellow Footed Rock Wallabies:

Sunday was the day for tackling a couple of the tracks. First off, was the 7km Barraranna Circuit, starting at the Welcome Mine Trailhead which we had to drive to. Of all the treks we had completed on our trip, this was one of the best. The scenery was very varied, the track ranged from flat gravel to rocky creek beds and the geology was fascinating. Morning tea was at the most tranquil waterhole we had come across – the Mara Murumuru Waterhole located at the junction of Arkaroola Creek and one of its tributaries which we had walked down. Along the way we took a short detour to the Arkaroola Gorge and, back on the track, we passed Stubbs Waterhole and further on another waterhole, the home to a couple of ducks.

Mara Murumuru Waterhole - shame about the sunspots on the lens

Along the way, we were amazed by the varieties of wild flowers, including desert peas, and the different colours and textures of rocks.

After lunch back at the campground, we set off on the Spriggina Ridge track only as far as the remote observatory, as we didn’t have enough time to complete the full circuit.

On Sunday night we treated ourselves to something K had been hanging out for all trip – Sunday Roast.

Our final activity at Arkaroola was the Ridge Top 4WD tour. This took four and half hours over some very steep and rocky tracks to three magnificent lookouts, before returning the same way. This outing was made all the more interesting by the stories and commentary from our driver, Pierre.

Split Rock

Alpana Station

Returning to campground, we packed up and headed for Blinman, a drive of about 2 hours. When we arrived, we checked the weather forecast to find that 70km winds were due that evening. We had had enough of not being able to cook and sitting in the trailer as it flapped about, so we tried to book into the rather comfortable looking hotel. But it was fully booked. Our original plan was to camp at Alpana Station, so we phoned to enquire about accommodation. We were asked if we had a 4WD and, on confirming this, we booked their only option – a remote hut.

We were warned that it would take about 40 minutes to drive the 7km to the Nungawurtina Hut (place of many hellos), with over 20 dry river bed crossings and an otherwise challenging track. It took us all of that time to get there (having dropped the trailer at the homestead), but it was so worth it.

Nungawurtina Hut

We got the log fire going and cooked up a great dinner while listening to the wind howling around, safe in the knowledge that we were not going to be blown away. In the morning we walked a short distance up the creek bed before tackling the 4WD track back to the homestead via Sunset Hill which had spectacular views across the Flinders Ranges.

The Journey Home

By this time, we were only three nights away from home. We spent the first of these at Quorn in a very well provisioned caravan park. On wandering around the town, we came across a hotel that advertised $16 schnitzels on Tuesday nights – being Tuesday we opted for a hotel meal, without any regrets – it was plentiful and delicious.

The following day we headed for Morgan and camped next to the Murray River in the caravan park next to the ferry crossing.

Our final night was spent at Sea Lake, mainly to give me the opportunity to view my two prints hanging in the Skymirror Gallery.

By this time the nights were getting very cold and the days were hardly managing to get over 15 degrees. Since we were driving, it was not much of an issue. After a brief stop at Maryborough to have an issue with the trailer sorted, we arrived home mid-afternoon.

So, another trip completed and many adventures had, but it is back to ‘normal’ with more adventures to look forward to.

In the meantime, thank you for reading about our travels.

9 Responses

  1. Thank you for writing about your travels and allowing those of us with more mundane lifestyles to join you virtually!

  2. Another wonderful email full of fascinating travel snippets plus your wonderful photos. Welcome back to Victoria along with its ‘spring’ weather. Love to catch up for a coffee soon.

  3. Glad to hear you are back safe and sound, although I imagine you would still love to be roaming around Australia. Great photos from your whole trip. Robert is looking forward to seeing a publication of your travels. Do you do photo/description books on all your trips?

    1. Thank you, yes, given the cold weather, north would be better. We will be producing a book this time and possibly backtrack to last year and do one for 2022 as well. Speak soon.

  4. Thanks for taking us all along on a virtual trip with you Martin. It has been enjoyable and fascinating to read. Glad you are both back safely.

  5. Hi Martin and Kerena,
    We are still reading, but your adventures journey is very enjoyable and informative, with fantastic pictures.
    I said Blinman has a train station realizing it is actually Beltana.

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