Yesterday as I began this five day exercise, I uploaded a photo of my Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic with some of the Flinders Ranges in the background.
The Flinders Ranges are a prized tourist destination in South Australia and Wilpena Pound, contained within the ranges is somewhat of a mecca for visitors.
‘The Pound’ as we call it is located about 430kms or 267 miles roughly north west of the State’s capital, Adelaide. It is accessible by sealed roads from Adelaide and is a perfect long distance destination for riders of cruiser style motor cycle like my Harley.
From where I live to the Pound, is about 1,600 kms or roughly 1,000 miles each way. That’s taking the shortest route via Broken Hill, a big mining town in the far west of New South Wales.
After leaving ‘The Hill’ you know when you are getting near ‘The Pound’ when you come to the South Ausie town of Hawker.
As you can see from the size of the town’s population, Hawker is not exactly large in size. However it makes up for that by its friendliness, facilities, great food and that important ingredient for combustion engines, fuel.
From Hawker it’s only about 30k’s let’s say 20 miles further on to ‘The Pound’.
At ‘The Pound’, visitors have multiple accommodation choices, ranging from luxury to tent sites. Or, you can pitch your tent in relative isolation yet remain in comfortable walking distance from the facilities. On this occasion, isolation suited me down to the ground and I pitched my little tent in a great spot.
I’d only just finished pitching my tent and covering the Harley when a massive camper van parked itself in nearby clearing and discharged an army of occupants who immediately set up camp tables chairs and that evil of all evils, a boom box of some sort. Paradise gained,Paradise lost.
It was early afternoon and I was too tired to pack up and find somewhere else so I decided to stay put. It was a wise move because just after 6am the next morning they were packed up and gone. My prayers had been answered.
The purple flowers you can see in the photograph are the signature of a noxious weed we call Patterson’s Curse. It is a genuine curse for graziers although in some parts of Australia it has a more benign name,’Riverina Bluebell’. It’s a tough little bugger, hard to kill and once it takes hold, words like bugger can’t adequately describe how we feel about it. One positive though, bees adore it.
As the monster camper van and it occupants were preparing to leave, I was getting ready for my walk up into the hills surrounding ‘The Pound’. Depending upon the route you take it can be extremely difficult or relative easy. I took the middle track, I refuse point blank to call it a trail. Although I’m reasonably fit, I still found the going hard in some spots. On reflection I know the reason why.
Once on the high ground though, the effort is rewarded by the splendid views. Here are a few of them:
In this photo you can see the extent of the purple coloured Patterson’s curse.
This walk took me about 7 hours from start to finish and I was pleased to get back to camp. I’d really loaded myself up for the day’s photographic activity, tripod, Nikon F5 film camera, Nikon D200 digital camera and of course, a range of lenses, not to mention various speed Kodak Tmax film, filters and all the other photographic paraphernalia we think we will need but never do.
Added to that were two water bottles, food, map, compass and park guide book. No wonder the few people I encountered during the day looked at me as if I was a madman.
As I sat in the Resort’s great restaurant, showered and relaxed, I reflected on my day’s activities, I concluded that the people I saw up in the hills were absolutely right, I was not only mad but stupid. I’ve been a bush walker and photographer for years and today I had broken one of my most important rules. Always travel light in the bush. This has always been my mantra. Today I’d loaded myself up like a pack horse. Stupid old goat I thought to myself. As I never use the word never, I can’t assure myself that I’ll never make the same mistake again.
Back in my tent, the air mattress felt like a bed of nails, my sleeping bag was too tight and the torch batteries had gone missing. I thanked my lucky stars that I only had another 10 days or so of camping on this trip. Another positive was no mobile phone signal.
The Flinders Ranges have much to offer visually and for the adventurous there are many more dimension to explore. My Harley and I don’t care much for travelling on the dirt unless it is absolutely necessary so I didn’t see everything the Flinders have to offer on this ride.
Next time I’ll come in the Landrover and bring every bit of gear I can get my hands on.
Hoo roo till tomorrow.