We spent the day driving along some interesting and challenging roads today as we went sight seeing. With Jill’s current level of mobility, it’s not easy for us to walk very far, so driving is our best option. There are many stunning lookouts across these Ranges and we stopped at everyone along the roads that we travelled today to see various views and interesting sights.
Along the road we stopped at the Rawnsley Lookout and had a stunning view of the face of Rawnsley Bluff. We struck up a conversation with a cookie of young Americans who were working here on their tourist work visa and agreed that it reminded us of Sedona in Arizona.
The Rawnsley Park accommodation where we are staying has an Optus mobile phone connection across the entire property but the only Telstra connection is at the Woolshed Restaurant. We found the opposite when we called into the Wilpena Resort about 20 kilometres up the road so we stopped and gorged ourselves on the Internet for half an hour.
Nearby was the famous Cazneaux Tree.. It is Eucalyptus Camaldulensis or River Red Gum that was made famous by the photographer Harold Cazneaux who photographed it in 1937 in an image entitled ‘The Spirit of Endurance’. The tree has now been listed by the National Trust of South Australia as significant tree #239 on the Trust’s Register of Significant Trees.
The first part of our serious drive was along Bunyeroo Road that is within the Flinders Ranges National Park. We needed to buy a Parks Pass online to be able to travel along this route. The road is a 29 kilometre long ‘bone shaker’. It’s not too bad for the first few kilometres (apart from some corrugations) but it gets much more rough as you drive through the floodways where the creeks have washed rocks and debris across the road.
The main attraction for us along this road was the ‘Razorback Lookout’ This provides a spectacular view across the Ranges and is one of the most photographed views in the Flinders Ranges.
There are quite a few campgrounds and picnic spots along the way and this road gets quite rugged, especially when it travels through the 2 kilometre stretch of Bunyeroo Gorge. We didn’t drive much faster than 15 kmh at this part of the road.
The Bunyeroo Gorge road continued on between the Heysen Range and ABC Range to Brachina Gorge and Aroona Valley, joining the Brachina Gorge road at a tee intersection.
We followed Brachina Road through Brachina Gorge as it meanders its way through sharp sawtooth ridges of resistant quartzite. Its name is derived from an Aboriginal word ‘vachina’, meaning cranky. It refers to a mythical argument between birds over a grind stone.
The scenery in Brachina Gorge was stunning, however the road is very rough. For much of the way, the road is in the creek bed and this required us to drive vary carefully to avoid big hollows and rocky areas as we drove along. This spectacular gorge was once used as a pass through which bullock teams pulled their loads and is now a favourite picnic and camping area. At one point, we passed the grave of a teamster but there was nothing to tell us about the circumstances of his death.
In the middle of the gorge, we found a picnic table and stopped for lunch. We had brought some cooking gear with us, so today we had hotdogs and cheese.
Eventually, the road emerged from the gorge onto the large flat featureless plain to the west of the Flinders Ranges. It took us another twenty, or so, kilometres before we reached the bitumen highway where we could turn south. It was wonderful to have a smooth road at last! After quite a long way, we found the turnoff that we wanted to take on to the Moralana Scenic Road. This road took us along the southern side of Wilpena Pound back to the Flinders Ranges Way. This was another dirt road but it was much smoother than the other roads we had travelled on all day. It is rated as one of the most scenic roads in the area but I think that the scenery is best seen while travelling west rather than to the east as we were going.
We kept our eyes open for wildlife all day but the sum total of our wildlife spotting was a couple of emus that we saw on the plains after we had left the Brachina Gorge.