Saturday 7th April, 2007
It was not a case of "up at the crack of dawn" but
it light enough to start packing up yet". Having turned in relatively
early, as there is virtually no night life when camping alone, I had
more than enough sleep long before the first light of dawn. I packed up
as soon as soon as I could see enough not to leave anything
behind. We had no radio sched as agreed
by mobile phone last night, so I was away at 7:30. Breakfast this
morning was a glass of powered milk flavoured with banana Kwik.
I headed north for 1km to the turnoff on the right that went
right up to the base of the Flinders Ranges. I was just a 100mtrs or so
along here and came across a family of happy campers. They were
enjoying the outback in relative style with a 4WD and a family sedan
and a couple of
trail bikes for the kids. The fire was up with breakfast just over.
"Cuppa, mate?" says the bloke in stubby shorts and thongs. "Yeah. Ta."
I answered and dropped my pack. After introductions all round the talk
quickly got to "What are you doing out here on foot? Aint nothing 'ere,
mate." I explained that I initially was heading up the road alongside
the railway line when I decided to cut through the Ranges. "There's no
road through there mate. We live in Quorn" (just 15kms away on the
other side of the Ranges) "and come out here campin' and 4 wheel
drivin' and there's no road through them hills." I dug out my map and
showed him and the kids, whose ears pricked up at the thought of an
unknown dirt road to explore. "Well, I'll
be damned. That'll sure save us a long drive around if we could find
that road." The boys headed for the bikes but dad called out "Finish
your breakfast first."
I finished my
cuppa and thanked them and was on my way. When I got to the hills, I
turned south to follow the road along the foothills for about 4kms and
came to a recently abandoned shack where the road through
gap wound its way up into the hills. The "tin" walls and
roof were in pretty good condition and there were locks and signs to
keep out the honest ones. An adjacent bore, tank and trough were
very second hand. It was about 11o'clock, so I decided to take
advantage of the shade and wait for the boys on their trail bikes. I
reckon I had about a 45 minute break and was about to start off again
when they arrived. They took a fair while because they had tried by car
first but couldn't find a way across one of the dried creeks so went
back for the bikes.
a bit then they
headed off over the obvious road that was there alright. I followed a
few minutes later noticing as I went through the fence that there was a
"tourist" sign advising those walking the Heysen Trail
to "follow the
fence". Boy, the part I could see was like a well worn goat track following the fence. I was
glad that I was following a road that went through the fence and at right angles to this walking trail and not "roughing it".
I had gone about 2km up and down serious hills on a very
road when the boys on their bikes came back. They told me that they had
been stopped by a locked gate but had "lifted it off its hinges" and
got the bikes through. They followed it to the "main road" which headed
down into Quorn. They were familiar with this road into Quorn but would
reporting that this road that cut through the Ranges was not only
locked but "not
for the "wildest 4 wheel drive fanatic". From what I had seen of the
road I had already travelled over, I agreed wholeheartedly. Maybe I
would have been better off following a maintained walking trail.
I pushed on but it got worse. I saw a few kangaroos and
to see sheep here and there but the road condition was wearing me down.
I was reduced to walking (trudging) up a steep, loose underfoot, slope
for 2 minutes, then sitting (usually no shade) for 5 minutes, then
having another go. I could see that even a 4WD would have a problem
getting a grip on the steep sections with the loose stones under the
wheels. When I got to the locked gate, I took my pack off and placed it over the fence then climbed through myself.
After 5km (it seemed
like 25) the terrain
started to ease and eventually I walked out of the "gap" into the rear
end of a sheep station homestead nestled right up into the eastern
foothills. Green lawns, electricity, satellite TV antenna.
Civilisation. It was a big surprise. I walked up to what looked like
the front gate and called out "Anyone home?" I repeated this several
times, a bit louder each time and finally decided that there was no-one
there. I didn't realise for several days that it was Easter weekend!
It was 3 o'clock by this time and I was ready to chuck it in
the day, so I walked on till I was well clear of the "home paddock",
passed through a gate and dropped the pack. I had a sip of water and
pulled out the map. I saw that I was only 5km from the "main"
(dirt) that led down into Quorn, so I decided to up camp again and
I reached the Arden Vale Road (it had a
name even) and went only 500 meters towards Quorn and found a
reasonable campsite alongside Ingaree Creek. I did not expect anything
good from the radio and poor batteries so I called Bill on the cell
phone and gave my location and that I would be in Quorn in the morning.
I was dog tired from the mountain climbing expidition, but high on the
exercise and achievement, and happy to hit the sack as the sun went
down. The temperature got up to 27deg today with clear skies and this
added to the strain, but I reckon I did pretty good for an old bloke.
I'd covered about18kms over the road from hell and lived to tell the
tale. My camp was at Lat 32:15.898 and Lon
I was sleeping soundly untill around 11pm when I was rudely
awakened by the sound of an empty bottle exploding on the ground right
outside my tent!