Monday, 16 May 2016

Half-lap Day 11: Flinders Ranges

I woke early and settled into a spot on the rocks overlooking the Flinders Ranges to drink my cup of tea and write my blog. I was up in time to watch the sun rise over the mountains which was quite spectacular. LiAM joined me after a while and we went for a walk down through the hills surrounding our camp. We saw lots of interesting rocks and plants, and 2 wallabies camouflaged into the hillside – their fur is almost exactly the same colour as the grass!

Sunrise over the Flinders Ranges (taken from our campsite)
It was a lovely sunny morning and soon warmed up, the warmest we’ve probably been on the trip so far. Once everyone was out of bed we opened up all the windows in the tent, as there were still some damp patches from Monday. Millie enjoyed sitting up on our bed colouring in, while the sun came in the windows. We spent the morning hanging around the campsite – the kids dug a hole looking for gold, they explored more of the paths leading off from the camp, I sorted out the washing and enjoyed being in the sun, Tony strung up some ropes to dry all our annex canvases on. Caitlin and Tony tried riding their bikes around the campsites but the tracks were a bit rough for Caitlin’s bike. It was so lovely to just take our time and enjoy the beautiful spot.

We saw pairs of wedge tailed eagles a few times – we could see them maneuvering through the air – stopping and dropping backwards then catching another draught of air, and starting dives then pulling out – we see eagles often at home and had never seen this behavior – then realised that we were up so much higher than usual on our hill, and were seeing the eagles much closer to their full flight height so could see more detail. Normally when they are that high they just look like specks to us and we can’t see what they are doing.

In the afternoon we headed out to explore the national park a bit. We drove out to Sacred Canyon – 13km along a very corrugated dirt road, so that wasn’t overly comfortable, but it wasn’t too bad. We saw lots of emus on the way, including a dad (probably) with 2 juveniles. It was amazing how dry the land was, creek beds still dry, hardly even any puddles, given they’d had 40mm here only 3 days ago.

We reached the canyon and headed off on our walk – an easy walk along a dry creek bed between two rock walls. The rock formations were fascinating, including areas of completely vertical layers of rock. My geography is a bit hazy on how they were formed, but it’s something I want to look up when I can. There were a few rock pools in amongst the rocks, and ants everywhere at times. We saw ancient engravings in the rocks – circles and emu tracks and little people. No one knows how old these engravings are – incredible to see something that has been there for so long we can’t even imagine. We reached what looked like the end of the canyon, and there was a little cave to the side – the kids thought it was like a little chapel so they performed some mock wedding ceremonies in there. Then they clambered up the rocks at the end of the canyon, and discovered we could keep walking along the creek. Tony and I followed (it took me a little longer than all of the others…I’m amazed at how agile Millie is on rocks, and she’s not concerned about heights at all. She seems to have Tony’s knack of seeing the easiest path and taking it confidently)

Sacred Canyon
We kept going up the creek until we reached open pasture. There was a giant gum tree in the middle of the creek bed that had long ago split in two, and the 2 halves were growing as separate trees. We could stand in between the halves of the trunk and see where they used to be joined, it was incredible. After playing in the field and creek for a little while we clambered back down to the end of the canyon and had some lunch, while the kids climbed the walls of the canyon (the slopey bits, anyway.)

A gum tree split in 2
We walked back to the car and drove back to the Visitor Centre. We listened to Wild Born and a very exciting battle scene made the drive seem very short. We filled up our water bottles (there’s no water at all at our campsite) and got a National Parks map. We considered doing a walk to the Hills Homestead but everyone was a bit tired. On the way out we stopped at the Solar Power lookout walk and walked out to see the Solar Power setup that powers the visitor’s centre and other parts of the park. The late afternoon sunshine was on the cliffs of Wilpena Pound, the rocks were almost glowing red and it was spectacular.

Back to our tent where we closed up all the windows and then got the fire going. Tony roasted potatoes in the coals, Caitlin cooked donuts (jam and bread fried in pancake batter – delicious!) and the kids roasted marshmallows. It was a cold evening but beautiful sitting up on the hill around the fire. At one point we heard a car (ute?) down below us and then heard a few gunshots – they echoed around the valleys and hills for ages and it was a bit scary the first time, then figured that someone was out hunting and it was quite normal for a country night.

Sunset from our camp
Once we’d all eaten we snuggled in to bed – LiAM tried to wear a beanie and neck warmer to bed to see if he felt warmer, he’s been quite cold – and we read Brisingr until we fell asleep.

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