Monday, 9 May 2016

MAY 2016 : Heysen Trail, Flinders Ranges, South Australia : Day 6 : Melrose via Alligator Gorge to Adelaide

A deafening cacophony of birds as we awoke in Melrose.

On closer inspection we discovered they were corellas.

An old teamster carriage, originally drawn by bullocks, which transported wheat in the 1800s.

Our walk today was a leisurely one, through the Alligator Gorge. No alligators ... the name is a mystery.


Walking down to the gorge.

Alligator Gorge is part of the Mount Remarkable National Park and is quartzite.

The gorge has been formed by constant flow of water in the wet seasons.


                                                Some narrow passes


           Huge gums washed down the gorged and lodged against the quartzite cliffs


             Life in the leaf litter


          Huge flat terraces in parts of the gorge


        Nicole, Wes and Ben - our attentive guides.


                                              A few hundred steps to exit Alligator Gorge


             A final shot of our illustrious group


           Travelling south we saw farmers clearing their land after harvesting their wheat crop


              ...... some road trains...


             ..... old and new technologies...


           ..... Salt lakes.....


 Wes, our guide, has so impressed Tasmanian school children with his exploits that a local author has
 created a children's book to recognise him. He certainly enhanced the week for us with his endless enthusiasm and deep knowledge of the Flinders Ranges.


We flew out of Adelaide to another adventure in Perth, where we will spend the next 7 weeks helping with babysitting two of our granddaughters, Pippa and Harriet.


MAY 2016 : Heysen Trail, Flinders Ranges, South Australia : Day 5 : Parachilna to Melrose with stops in Brachina Gorge and a walk on Dutchman's Stern.

6am start this morning to return to Brachina Gorge.

This section of Brachina Gorge was very imposing and rugged.

Our aim today was to see the Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies, which have been recently been relocated back in the gorge after years of displacement by the large numbers of feral goats.

We were delighted to see several wallabies this morning as they are rather elusive.


A large fossil found under a rock ledge.

Wes poured water on one of the limestone deposits..

to reveal the remains of the now-extinct sponge-like archaeocyaths (ancient cups)

                                                 A description of the archaeocyaths.


          On the road south...


 We drove past the former Ghan railway, now relocated further west, only distinguished by decaying relics of former station buildings.


We have seen the evidence of echidnas rutting soil searching for ants, so we were surprised to spy one 
along the road heading for cover. Sarah, our Kiwi friend, was particularly delighted as she hadn't even heard of them before.


                                      Our walk today was up Dutchman's Stern.


                                              We did the 10.5 km loop walk.


                   We climbed the hill from the carpark. Hot, dry with sparce vegetation at first.


            It was more shaded with more interesting foliage on the southern side.


                               The view to the east, looking towards the town of Quorn.


                       The summit of Dutchman's Stern looking towards Spencer Gulf.


           Dramatic countryside.


           Driving to the town of Melrose there was burning off of wheat stubble on local properties.


            Our hotel in Melrose.


           A welcome drink and meal in the pub next door after a fascinating day.


Sunday, 8 May 2016

MAY 2016 : Heysen Trail, Flinders Ranges, South Australia : Day 4 : Aroona to Parachilna Gorge : 19 kms


Before we headed off on our walk today our guides took us to Brachina Gorge, a renowned geological site and trail that has fossils dating back millions of years.


         Limestone layers in the surrounding hills of Brachina Gorge.


          An unexpected sighting of a wedge-tail eagle. 


A dingo. South Australia has a dingo fence to protect it from dingoes in other states. This rogue dog must have jumped the fence. Splendid creature.



            Evidence of the stromatolites in Brachina Gorge.


             In a dry river bed.....


Wes showed us the changes in the type of rock with each layer of sediment representing millions of    years of geological development. Geologists have taken core samples from these strata as they are so significant. Their discovery even warranted a visit from David Attenborough so impressed with the discovery.

We then drove to Aroona Homestead. It was originally established in 1851 when Englishman, David Hayward, established his fortune and sold it in 1862 before the great drought when many lives were ruined. He is one of the only success stories of that era. Aroona homestead, more recently in 1927, was also famous as the site where Hans Heysen set up an artist's camp to paint the spectacular landscape.


We set off on our long walk to Parachilna Gorge. It was a hot, airless day, on rocky creek beds with scrubby landscape and with an abundance of flies.

Rare glimpses of the Heysen Range.

Dry river beds.


There are several threats which are constant dangers to native vegetation and wildlife. There has been a massive effort to remove all trace of prickly pear...unfortunately there is still a way to go.

Over the last few decades hundreds of thousands of goats have been caught or killed as they annihilate any vegetation in their path.

                  One distressed kid, separated from the herd, bowled us up on the path.


                               The official end of the Heysen Trail at Parachilna Gorge.


        A welcome drink at the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna, run by local entrepreneur, Jane.


Our accommodation was in containers or dongers across the road, called the Overflow. These are often used by film crews as they pub is used as a film set for movies, TV series and ads.

                  Watching the sunset.


           Excellent local fare, despite a power outage. Fabulous rooms attached to the pub.


      The restaurant doubles as a gallery of local art.