Today, we finally made it to the Southern section of the Flinders Ranges. This series of mountains form the biggest mountains in South Australia and were named in honour of Mathew Flinders (by some of his party). He was the first man to circumnavigate Australia in 1802. The first settlers arrived here in 1845.
We planned to leave Peterborough (our previous overnight stop) early today but a visit to the Railway Museum there waylaid our plans. Peterborough was at a railway crossroads. A narrow gauge railway ran from east to west towards the mining areas of Treworie and Burra and a standard gauge line ran north and south from Broken Hill to Adelaide. At its peak, over 1200 men worked at the station and railway workshops in the town. We were seduced into a rather long tour of the old workshops that was very interesting but much longer than we had anticipated.
We ended up leaving almost two hours later than we had planned, but it didn’t matter a great deal as we only had a little over 220 kms to drive today. After refuelling, we drove to the town of Orroroo where we made a minor detour to see an enormous red gum tree. It is over 500 years old and has a girth of 10 metres. These trees are colloquially known as ‘widow makers’ as they drop their branches without warning and anyone who camps underneath risks death or serious injury.
A lot of the towns in this area are a pale shadow of their former selves. Many were established as mining towns and when the mines closed, the towns became virtual ghost towns. One such town is Carriton where we came across the old St Celia’s Catholic Church. It looks as though it hasn’t been used for many decades.
Later, we stopped in the little town of Hawker for lunch, looked at the historic railway station and then checked out the stores for some more provisions for lunch for the next few days. We had read that we would find the last ATMs for a few days and probably the last mobile phone connection as well in Hawker. We were expecting to find a few shops and maybe a small supermarket. We drove around all the streets looking for the shopping centre, but instead, the only shops that existed were a general store (with more empty shelves than full ones) and a service station on the opposite corner that also had a little grocery shop.
From Hawker, it was only about 50 kms to where we are staying for the next two nights at Rawnsley Park Station. It’s a large sheep station with some tourist cabins and a caravan park / camping area – just a few kilometres south of Wilpena Pound. We stopped a number of times along the way to take some photographs including this dry creek which was rather attractive. It gave us a special bonus when two emus walked across the creek bed while I was taking my photo.
Just before reaching Rawnsley Park, we came across a scenic drive that headed west across the hills. We decided to follow it for a half hour or so and came across some interesting scenery. I have seen many photos of this area and the scenery along this road was very similar to that which I expected to find. It was pretty much the type of scenery that I came to the Flinders Ranges to see.
We finally reached Rawnsley Park at about 4.00 pm. By now the weather had changed to something warmer than the last few days and the sky is blue and sunny. We have a couple of nice self-contained cabins here that are very comfortable.
Behind the cabins is a hill where we were able to get some good views of Rawnsley Bluff at sunset as well as some golden light on a distant mountain range.