Friday, 23 November 2012

Farms, Roasts and Sprinklers

We had lined up to go and meet one of Glenn’s mates from work, Matt.  Matt had grown up in Swan Hill and now has a ‘hobby’ farm there on the Murray.  We did the 150km backtrack to Swan Hill and rolled up to the farm.

His place is a beautiful property on the NSW side, with river frontage and a few acres to play with.  There are a number of sheds and caravans set up, and some lovely grass to camp on.  After catching up with Matt, his wife Katie and son Cooper, we set up the camper in amongst the trees and kicked back in front of the fire.
Matt and Katie's farm

Murray River

What a fireplace set up!
 We then had a few drinks, and cranked up the BBQ.  Matt and Katie had been to a lot of the places that we’d been to, so it was fantastic to share travelling stories.  We also met Matt’s mum, who had travelled extensively with Matt when he was a young kid.  Some of the places they went to back in the day would have been pretty remote, so it was very interesting to hear the stories.

The next morning, Matt showed us around his place, including the old trucks he was slowly doing up.  One International Semi was as old as Matt, which looked like it had weathered quite well and looked in great nick, perhaps even a little better nick than Matt himself! J
An old beauty

Cruising around the farm

Enjoying the Murray River
 He also showed us around the paddocks and an old pumping station on the property next door.  There was definitely some history there.  It was easy to see how Matt and Katie could spend a lot of time up here and how the list of jobs could just keep growing.  Lots of fun though. 
The fireplace inside the old pumping station

Someone's table and chair

Not much left now

Sunset on the pumping station and the Murray
 That afternoon, Matt bought out the big daddy camp oven, a huge hum-dinger.  We cooked up a huge beef and lamb roast, heaps of vegies and some pretty delicious gravy (from our gravy stores!!!).  It’s pretty hard to rate camp oven roasts, as they are all good, but this was definitely a winner!

The next day, after lunch, Matt and Katie had to go back home.  We tried very hard to convince them to stay and that work wouldn’t mind.  All our efforts were in vein and they did the pack up.  Given we were not in that big a hurry, we had asked if we could stay on another night.  It was a bit weird having Matt and Katie pack up and drive off, leaving their little piece of paradise whilst we stayed there, but.....we got over it.

Around the fire that night, we discussed our next move.  We were in the chute towards home, but had to manage the landing carefully, so as to not totally crash and burn.  We had planned to go back along the Murray around Echuca and sit for quite a few days, just bush camping, watching the river go by, and steal ourselves for home-life.  This was still the plan, but we figured we had an extra day.  After a few SMS’s we negotiated an extra days stay on the farm - how lucky!  After all, this was one of the best ‘caravan parks’ we’d been in.  Had the place to ourselves, had water, a bathroom and Matts wood to burn.  Sensational really. J

Our dream woodpile

Damper on the go

Another beauty
The next morning, Glenn was straight up and into setting up the sprinklers.  Matt had available water and was trying to keep the grass and trees growing, especially given how dry it was.  This was an important job for the day!!

After breakfast, we drove back into Swan Hill for a few jobs, like our final shop for supplies.  Before any of that though, we followed Matt’s tip and went to a local cafe for coffee and brunch.  ‘Spoons’ looks out over the Murray from an outside deck, with an old historic paddle steamer on display beside it.  It was a beautiful morning and sitting in the sun we had a scrumptious meal as well as two coffees.  What an enjoyable morning!!  We were also into soaking every last minute in by this stage, making sure we appreciated every element, knowing that it was coming to an end soon.  What a way to spend a Monday morning.

We went and did our shopping, which was pretty relaxed this time.  No great rush and no huge buy up, thinking about how were we going to fit it all into the car.  We took our goods, and drove back to our... er, no, to Matt’s farm.

Relaxing and blogging on the farm
Glenn was straight back on sprinkler duty.  There is something about sprinklers which is surprisingly relaxing.  Our last sprinkler interaction was way back in Mataranka Hot Springs.  We’d been on the go pretty hard up to that point in the trip, (doing Cape York etc), and getting into the swing of travelling, (not to mention having the kids work us over).  We were camped in the National Park, where some sprinklers came on around 1.30pm every day.  After a while, Glenn realised that he’d been sitting there for over half an hour watching the sprinkler go around and around!!!!  What a way to relax! J

This wasn’t quite as relaxing, after all, there was thinking to do.  Is that sprinkler ok, has that part of the grass had enough, is the ground flooded there, where should the sprinkler go next.  All important questions.  Now that is the kind of ‘work’ that is enjoyable.

We did remove ourselves from the farm the next morning, although we could have stayed there for a week!!!  Thanks Matt, Katie and Cooper for your hospitality and letting us stay on your beautiful property.  Hopefully we’d be back one day.

Time for a cuppa

Echuca, Family & Funerals

We got to Echuca around lunchtime.  We had been booked into a caravan park just over the Murray in Moama.  We paid up and found our site.  We conducted our usual ‘site nesting’ routine of walking around, looking left, right and up, pointing here and there, walking around in circles again, having a discussion, and finally resolving the plan for the setup.  Lots of things need to be considered, the sun (primarily), the wind, privacy, awning or no awning.  Even though we’ve had a lot of practice, and are pretty good at it all by now, it can still take forever sometimes to work out.

We parked the camper in its spot, made up some lunch, and then set up the camper, again.  It would be good to know how many times we’d set up and pulled down the camper this trip.  We will have to try to work that out one day.

The girls squeezed in some playing before we did other jobs and then thought about dinner.  We decided on having a slack night with fish and chips.  We ordered and had to go back into Echuca to pick it up.  We all piled into the car and 2 minutes down the road hit a traffic jam.  Errr, really, does ‘peak hour’ really exist in Echuca-Moama????  Seemed a bit weird.  We ended up hearing that it was an accident on the bridge and some people had been stuck there for 40 minutes.

Luckily it wasn’t that long for us and we got to our dinner before it went cold.  We ate out the front of the shop to let the traffic die down.  Wasn’t too bad a dinner, and best of all, no washing up!!!

The next day, we let the kids do a heap of playing to get their ‘wiggly woos’ out, they deserved it after all that travelling.  Glenn parents were due that afternoon, so we hung around camp to meet them.

The girls were SO excited to see Gran and Poppie.  There was lots of jumping around and cheers when they turned up.  The girls had such a good time with everyone in Alice Springs, so it felt like a mini reunion for them.  We sat around catching up, having dinner together and reliving memories of Ray.

The next day was funeral day.  Karen and Andy arrived mid morning, bringing us some vital funeral clothes they had collected from our house.  Camp clothes would not have been appropriate we felt.  A quick spruce up and all of a sudden we transformed from camping travellers to high class, refined gentry.  It was very strange to be all dressed up.

We drove out to Lockington, Ray’s home town and met with Jenelle and Brett.  The family was together for this very important occasion, not 5only for ourselves, and to support Dad, but also obviously to support Ray’s family.

It was a very nice funeral and wake, with lots of chats, catch ups, and lots of memories.  RIP Ray.

That night, Jenelle and Brett had to head off, but Mum, Dad, Karen, Andy and all of us went to the Moama RSL.  The food was fantastic, and cheap.  Love meals like that.  It was good to continue the catch ups and chats and we were definitely proud to be well represented at the funeral.

The next morning, Mum and Dad headed off, whilst Karen, Andy and ourselves checked out Echuca a little.  After a coffee and delicious muffin, we walked along the river and checked out a few of the paddle steamers.  Whilst we were there, we had a look over one of the luxury house boats.  This was something that we’d thought of doing for ages, and seeing how impressive they were, we agreed to put it on our holiday to-do list as soon as we could!!!!!!
Morning tea in Echuca

Our next holiday

Auntie Karen with the girls
Karen and Andy finally headed back to Melbourne, and we packed the kids back into the car and continued the last leg of our trip.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

We Finally Head Back into Vic

From Arkaroola, we backtracked along the same dirt road to Copley and Leigh Creek, with a quick lunch stop in Copley.  We rolled down beside the Flinders Ranges, enjoying the spectacular view for another time.  Although it was only slightly out of our way, we decided to return to Warren Gorge, not really feeling like doing an overnight stop in a caravan park. 

Driving back into Warren was full justification.  It was very familiar this time and just as beautiful.  We slipped straight back into our old spot and it felt like putting on an old glove.  After dinner, we decided to go for a walk along the gorge wall.  As we walked along, Amy ‘eagle eye’ started spotting some yellow footed rock wallabies.  These are pretty rare in general, but they obviously called this area their home.  After our 20 minute walk, Amy had pointed out more than half a dozen of them.  Very lucky to see!  Warren Gorge had definitely developed into one of our favourite little pockets of the country. 

From Warren Gorge, we drove through the central countryside of South Australia.  The little towns seem to have such character and vibe.  We wondered if it would feel like that if you were to live there.  We made for Morgan, a little town on the Murray River we’d stayed at previously.  A promised icypole at the kiosk was devoured by the kids (and us of course), before heading to the ferry.  The kids really enjoyed driving on the ferry and being taken across the Murray.
Off we go - Morgan Ferry!

Just over the river is a reserve with bush camping.  We found a spot with the river at our back door.  We even managed to squeeze in a quick swim.  The girls couldn’t have enjoyed it more!!!  This was the first of many stops to come along the Murray, bit of a river theme in our final weeks.
A great bush camp in Morgan - and we even had a swim


From Morgan, we finalised the crossing of South Australia and finally hit the Victorian border.  This was significant and we shuddered a little as we entered our home state.  It was made even worse when we arrived in Mildura.  We turned onto the ‘Calder Hwy’ (a road that goes straight into Melbourne) and saw signs telling us how far Melbourne was.  It all got a bit much and felt we needed some counselling.  We realised though that not too many people would sympathise, understandably.

We stayed the night in another little favourite spot of our ‘backyard’, Hattah National Park.  The countryside looked fantastic and we enjoyed a look around, dinner and a good sleep.
Hattah National Park - a great overnight spot
We had found out that the funeral was on Thursday, but decided to do the final push and arrive on the Tuesday night.  This would push the girls a little more, travelling so many days in a row and such long distances, but we figured we’d then have a full day on Wednesday to relax, do a few jobs and get ourselves ready.

We piled the girls into Slim one more time, with promises of playgrounds and jumping pillows and drove off to Echuca.  The surroundings were all starting to feel a little familiar by now..... hmmm.. guess that had to happen eventually.


We shoe-horned ourselves out of the Aroona Valley to head north into the Gammon Ranges.  We’d decided to go and visit Arkaroola, a privately owned wilderness sanctuary at the edge of the Gammon Ranges National Park.  There was a lot we wanted to explore around the whole area, but we had to prioritize.

On our way out to the highway, we took the drive out through Brachina Gorge.  This drive failed to detract from the rest of the Flinders, being equally as magnificent.  You end up driving through the rocky, rough gorge, following a deep creek bed which had obviously been responsible for carving out the gorge walls we were seeing.  It was disappointing to finally exit the gorge, but we made sure we kept looking in the rear view mirror to see the stretching ranges.

From there, we turned north up to Leigh Creek, a mining town built to service the nearby coal mines.  It is quite a nice place, with a few good facilities.  We decided to do a quick laundry wash (at $5.40 a load!) and ducked into the local supermarket for some top up supplies.  A bite to eat, a take away coffee, and we were out of there.

The dirt road from Leigh Creek to Arkaroola is in fairly good nick, so it was a reasonably easy drive out there, although it did take a while.  The view along the way of course made the trip a little easier.  This region shows stark evidence of being a hop step and a jump from the deserts further north.  Just up the road from here is the start of the Strzelecki Track, the Birdsville Track and the Oodnadatta track.  It took a lot of self control not to keep going north and play in some of these favourite areas.

The dry and rocky surrounds continued all the way into Arkaroola.  We had a lot to explore here!  We had heard of a tag-a-long tour that you could do here along some of the surrounding country, travelling along some impressive ridge tops.  When we booked in we were enquiring about this tour.  It took us a little while to figure out that it actually not a tag-a-long, but a guided, driven trip.  It was also unfortunately very expensive AND quite long AND the kids could not be in their seatbelts.  It all conspired against us, and we definitely weren’t willing to try to keep the girls entertained for 4ish hours during the trek.  Wasn’t to be.
A great sunset surrounds the camp ground
We found a spot in the campground, set up, and after a beer or two, got dinner on the go.  There were a heap of other self guided drives and walks we could do, so a bit of research determined our plan for the next day.  We decided to tick off one of the items that night, to go and see the sunset at the Pinnicles.  After dinner, we took the 4km drive up the rocky track, and set ourselves up to enjoy the changing colours.  It was definitely worth the effort.
Two gorgeous girls and one gorgeous view (& no, that's not all Jess's hair.  There is a grass plant behind her!)


Over the last couple of months, Glenn had been keeping in contact with his parents about the health of a very close family friend, ‘Uncle’ Ray.  Uncle Ray was one of those honorary uncles you have as kids, but was extremely close to our family.  Ray lived near Echuca, and as kids, we spent a LOT of time water skiing on the Murray River, with Ray and his family.  Ray also considered us his second family and was involved in many celebrations over the years.  He was also a huge larrikin, with many examples of him taking the mickey and causing general havic.  He had iconic status in the family and Glenn’s Dad also considered Ray to be one of his best mates.

Ray had not been too well for a long time and over the last couple of weeks, he had gone downhill.  Glenn had spoken to his Dad the day before to get an update, but decided to call again today to check in.  Unfortunately the news was finally bad, and sad.  He had passed away.

After a quick, but pretty easy discussion with Amy, we decided to pack up and start the process of heading down towards Echuca, where the funeral would be.  We felt it was important for us to be there, in many ways.

The girls were excellent.  We explained the situation, and that unfortunately we had to pack up and head off.  No complaints.  Great work girls!

We drove out of Arkaroola, knowing that this was yet another place we would be back to explore.
Driving out of Arkaroola, through the Gammon Ranges


Let's Stay Put

After a huge thunderstorm the night before with lots of rain and lightning, it’s hard to fathom how the following morning could spring so brilliantly, blue skies, gentle breezes and plenty of sunshine. 

After a lazy sleep in (as much as we could with kids) and breakfast, we gathered all our hiking gear and headed off to see the Aroona Ruins and lookout, which wasn’t that far away.  Pretty soon we were looking over the stone ruins of the Aroona homestead.  It is fascinating to stand there and try to imagine how things were back then, how much of a vibrant home this must have been, and what hardships they faced daily, as well as the delights.
They must have made a little bit of money because the homestead seemed pretty extravagant, in relative terms anyway.  There were a couple of buildings made of stone, one even with a cellar, and a huge veranda.  This homestead also boasted a permanent spring nearby which supplied water to the homestead.  It is all pretty much a pile of rubble nowadays, but you get the sense of it all.  They had a very impressive view. (Wonder if they even noticed or appreciated it...I am sure they did.)
Now a small pile of rubble - Aroona Homestead
 We climbed up the hill behind the homestead for a better view of the valley.  The sight was well worth it, although both girls had kicked into major whinging mode for some reason.  Kinda gets on your goat after a while, and made it a little hard to enjoy the tranquillity.  We eventually abandoned and headed back to the camper after a few snaps.
Breathtakingly brilliant - the view from behind Aroona Ruins


When we got back, Glenn suggested that Amy take a wander off on another one of the walks from the campsite.  Amy jumped at the chance to be freed from the shackles, grabbed a UHF to be in contact, and strode off up the Red Hill walk.  Glenn managed to get the girls in bed for a bit of much needed ‘quiet time’, then set about doing some fixing jobs under the awning.
Why didn't I think of this earlier - off on a solo walk!
Amy’s walk sent her up the nearby hills on the other side from the Aroona ruins.  At the top, she took a right, and ended up at Heysen’s Viewpoint, looking down at the valley from a different angle.  It was a great chance to enjoy the peace and quiet, and take in more of the views.
Heysen's Viewpoint - about 1.5km from the Aroona campground
 After Amy got back to the camper, Glenn decided it was baking time.  ‘Bring out the cake-mix!’  It was going to have to be another gas jobbie, as there were no fires allowed at this time of year.  Surely the last (and only) success wasn’t going to be a fluke.  Mind you, we didn’t have Matt’s electric drill and beater, or the good cake tin, or the second camp over lid.... still, Glenn’s pretty good, he’ll be fine!!

With a mix here, a beat there, and a heat job on the camp oven, we were ready.  We kept the heat up this time, and even tried a couple of heatbeads on the lid.  It actually came out alright, although it took a while to cook.  It was expertly topped off with a bit of icing from Amy, and then WHOOOOMP, totally devoured by the family.  Yummo!

Sitting around that afternoon, we contemplated our next move.  This stop-over around the Flinders was in theory only a relatively short one, but we were enjoying it so much.  Each time we looked over the maps, there were more places we wanted to explore.  We could easily have spent a couple of months around this area. 

We didn’t have that long, and our rough plan was to be around the Murray River for the last week or so, just to give ourselves a chance to relax, not travel, and get ready for the Melbourne onslaught. 

That being said, we also didn’t want to rush too quickly through here.  We did our plans, and decided to take advantage of this spectacular little hideaway, and stay another day, after-all, this is the type of camping we enjoy.

The next ‘bonus’ day was a very relaxing one.  We started off this one with some pancakes for breakfast.  Shake and Bake cheating ones, but hey, delicious anyway!  The kids also did a lot of riding around on their bikes during the day, exploring the little tracks and roads around us.
The masterchef at work
 It was quite funny seeing them role playing on their bikes.  It all begins with them hopping on their bikes, making this “Errrrr errrr eeerrrrr (like clearing your throat) ...... brrrrrrrrrrrrmmm brrrmmmmm” noise.  We quickly worked out some time back that this was them starting their car, they would click their imaginary seat belt on, and drive off.

From there the games can range from going to the shops, going to school, towing a caravan or general convoy business.  Jess had definitely got the hang of the balance bike by now, and was very nimbly scooting around after Savannah, keeping her own.

Another source of entertainment - Jess taking her 'baby' for a walk
The other major activity for the day was having a bush shower.  We have a 12 volt pump which sits in a bucket of warm water (one boiled billy heats up the whole 10 litre bucket nicely).  We set up off to the side of Slim, and the whole family cycles through.  It’s a very efficient and quick process.  Quite amazing that the two kids and us two can have a full shower, everyone shampooing and conditioning their hair, and coming out all sparkling, in only 10 litres of water.  Totally impossible at home, but no great stress out here in the bush!

After dinner, we decided to go for a stroll around the grounds, with the kids riding their bikes.  A quick ‘Errrrr, errrr, eeerrrrrr’ and we were off.  The camp ground was spread out, and even catered for a tour group, although we had the place to ourselves.  We turned to go down towards the outstation ruins, when there was a big dip in the road, bit of a water channel to cross.  Savannah scooted down, through, and up the other side, no great trouble.  Jess saw what was happening, and decided to follow suit.

She managed however to really push off with a lot of enthusiasm.  Glenn immediately saw the pace, and started after her.  She was going ok... yeah, not too bad... hmmmm a little speed wobble, and oh dear, a BIG speed wobble.  Straight over the handlebars!!  This all happened in a second or two, so Glenn wasn’t fast enough to save her. 

A few tears, a bit of a ‘wow, did you see how fast you went’, a pat pat, and it was all over.  She was back on the bike and off again.

It had been a very enjoyable stay.  Reckon we’d be back here at some stage!

A sunrise worth getting up for. We could also see this from our window


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Wow, can it really be THIS good?

We had read up about Aroona Valley and a spectacular camping spot near Aroona Ruins.  One guy described it as one of his favourite campsites in all of Australia.  Everyone’s opinion is different, but still, will have to check out this one!!

We also wanted to check out some of the other gorges along the way, so took the Bunyeroo Valley Scenic Drive.  Pretty much as soon as we’d driven off it started to drizzle.  Thank goodness we’d packed up the camper in time, hate wet canvas!

Even though it was overcast and drizzly, it still didn’t deteriorate the views of this valley.  There simply seemed to be a high, rugged and long range wherever you looked.  The rock formations were striking and to an informed geologist, would tell a 1000 stories of the past. 

We were lamenting the rain in only one way, that it stopped us being able to take some amazing photos of this area, ones that would have half a chance of doing the view justice anyway.  It did add a certain ‘mystique’ to the area and we loved the rocky, windy drive through the valley.

At the top, we turned off and found the Aroona Valley track.  It was not too long a drive, and we found ourselves in another valley, surrounded again by high red ranges.  The campground was well laid out, and even better, no-one was camped there yet.

We found a perfect site, set up, and settled back to enjoy the afternoon.  Definately time for drinks, fives, and a little kick back.  The rain had stopped by this stage, but there were definite signs of more looming weather, so we again set up the awning just in case.
Aroona Bush camp
After dinner, we decided to go for a short 150 metre walk to an abandoned hut which formed part of our campsite view.  Even though we didn’t have people camped with us, we did witness a number of cars take the drive up to the hut for a look.  It was a previous outstation in the years gone past for the pastoralists, who had tried to run 1000’s of sheep in the area.  The hut was built in the early 1900’s, so a little more modern than those stone, crumbled ruins we had been seeing.  It was constructed of a frame, wooden slates, covered in chicken wire, and then covered in mud and pug.  A comfortable looking place all things considered, and with a veranda on 3 sides, you could imagine the inhabitants sitting back enjoying the view at some stage.
'Pug and Pine' hut

Not a bad view from the Hut

As the thunder and clouds start rolling in....
We decided to head back to the camper because we were hearing more and deep rumbling from the skies again.  In fact, it became quite loud and the lightning could be seen coming over the hills as well.  This time being awake for the storm, the girls were not quite as impressed as we were.  They were more on the scared and frightened side actually. 

When we got back to the camper, the girls had developed a rare and overwhelming desire to get into their camper and into their bed “RIGHT NOWWWWW”.  We made them brush their teeth first, and then asked Savannah to do a wee before bed.  Just as she was underway, a big crackling thunderclap came from above.  I think she nearly did more than her wee right there and then.  She was up like a shot, whaling, and bolted for the camper.  Poor thing J

They settled right down in bed, no books, just bed, at times with hands over their ears.  Amazingly, they went off to sleep pretty quickly.  Figured that sleeping was the best way to make it all go away.  Later when we went to bed and a second round of thunder of lightning was about to roll through. Jess woke and in her little voice said to Amy, “Thunders coming back”.  A quick re-assure and a pat saw her back to sleep.

After having a quick look at the lightshow, and cleaning up, we decided that bed and yet another movie was our plan.  Might as well be comfortable and entertained during the deluge.  The camper stood up to it all very well.

What a day, hard to believe that these Flinders could be THIS good.  We definitely love the Kimberley, being one of our most favoured places in Australia, but this Flinders area, in a different way, rivals it.  Very lucky to be here enjoying it!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Wilpena Wonders

On the way out of Warren Gorge, we decided to take the long way back to the bitumen, and do a scenic drive via some of the nearby hills and ruins.  We took the dirt road around, checking out things like Proby’s Grave, a pioneer who had lived here and had drowned trying to cross a flooded river.  We also went to Buckaringa Lookout, which looked down into the valley and surrounding ridges.  Very impressive country and no shortage of sights to admire.

We also passed Simmonston ruins.  An information board told of the story of this town that never was.  Apparently, on the prospect that the all important rail line was to pass directly through this area, Simmonston was created.  A two story pub, a general store and two dwellings were erected before news came that the line was to run further east, not through Simmonston at all.  The town was dead before it had even started.  How disheartening!

The story of heartbreak and hardship is littered all throughout this country.  Many pioneers, pastoralist and farmers strove to make a living in this semi-arid, harsh country.  After being surveyed and explored in the mid 1800’s, there had been unusually high levels of rainfall in the area, therefore an abundance of grass and plant life.  A large number of settlers ventured into the country, taking up leases and building infrastructure.  After a couple more years of these bumper seasons, the country returned to its normal levels of rainfall and its hard, desert-like land.  The grazing and pastoral leases were over-run, and eventually failed.  Many people simply walked off the land with stories of heartbreak and loss.

We drove to Hawker and into the Flinders Ranges National Park.  For all the ranges and hills prior to this, the Flinders proper loomed large and impressive as you drive in. 

Wilpena Pound is National Park and tourist central, with a campground, resort accommodation, bar, restaurant and even a pool.  We booked a site, not too disgusted with the $22 a night we had to pay (we’d seen MUCH worst elsewhere.....  let’s not get the rant started!).  We set up, had a shower and then lashed out on a meal at the bistro. 

Wilpena Camp ground
The meal here was surprisingly fantastic.  It was not too over-priced and the quality was quite impressive.  The kids had their normal kids fare, whilst we enjoyed a chicken schnitzel... yummo.  Amy’s only criticism was the frozen vegies that had been steamed, but not enough given some of them were still cold.  The whole park was pretty quiet, so obviously off-peak and we wondered if in peak times they had a regular supply of fresh vegies.  Anyway, only a small blip on an otherwise lovely meal.  We topped it off with desert, jelly for the girls, quangdong crumble for us.  Deeeeeelicious.

After walking back to our camper that night, some big ominous clouds started to roll in.  By the time we had the girls in bed, some deep rumbling thunder had started (which wasn’t just from the dinner).  It all built up pretty quickly and we sat under our awning watching a huge lightening display.  Amy commented on how many of the lightning strikes lit up the campground like it was daytime!

The lightning and thunder were quickly followed by some dumping rain.  It bucketed down.  Glenn was madly trying to get some computer banking done, much to Amy’s distress.  “Do you think you should be doing that with all this lightening??”  “Well, probably not, but we’ll run out of money if we don’t!”.  Probably a little melodramatic, but the jobs got done.

We quickly finished packing up and shot off into bed early to listen to the show.  It was full on, but we were happy we were off the ground in our camper.  We settled back into bed and watched a DVD on our portable DVD player.  Actually, after only watching about 3 movies in the first 6.5 months of our trip, lately we have kicked into nearly one a night.  It’s become quite a nice ritual.  The two of us have never seen so many movies in all our lives.  We MUST be relaxed!

The rain eventually eased and we drifted off to sleep.  In the morning, reasonably early, Glenn got a call on his mobile.  It was our friend Gabby.  “There’s a huge storm coming your way, maybe you shouldn’t be under trees, or should get indoors!!”.  “Errr... wow, really, when’s it coming??”.  “It should be there pretty much now”.  At this stage, Glenn was thinking, ‘how fast can we pack up the camper and get to a unit accommodation?’

So Gab looked up the BOM site.  “Hmmmm.. umm, I can’t see it there, let me check when all this was posted on Facebook.......”. 

“We did have a big storm last night, is that what you’re talking about?”. 

Gab, “Oh, the postings were from last night!!.......   are you ok?  Did you survive?”

It was great to have concerned friends looking out for us.  Pity it was SO LATE!!! J  Funny.  Lucky we didn’t get the call the night before, we probably would have packed up and booked into a unit.  Anyway, we survived the Mega Storm!

We wanted to go for a walk into Wilpena Pound.  Glenn had been through this area probably a half dozen times, but had never done any of the walks.  The morning was still pretty drizzly, so we decided to stay an extra day, do the walk tomorrow, and go for a drive today.

We found the Moralana scenic drive which goes along the southern edge of the Flinders.  Driving along some little ridges looking up at these magnificent ranges was well worth the trip.  It was a pity that things were so grey and overcast, but still, the mountains stood out and looked as rugged as ever.  We really enjoyed this little excursion.
Along the Morolana scenic drive
 The next day was sunny and blue skies, so we trekked off to do the pound walk.  We cheated a little (having the two girls to think about) and took the shuttle bus the 2.5kms into the walk to make things easier.  We walked up to the homestead, and then up the 800metre climb to the lookout.

The kids would have been happy with just the five minute shuttle bus ride

From the top, you can really see the ‘bowl’ that the surrounding range makes to form the natural pound.  It was a big area and you can see why it was used by early settlers to contain their livestock.

At the top lookout at Wilpena Pound


Back down at the homestead, they had some great information boards, telling stories of the families that had lived there.  Needless to say, there was significant hardship, troubles and heartbreak.  Many people worked their guts out here, many died, and lost their loved ones.  One interesting point was talking about how the early settlers were taxed on their lease based on what level the Government ‘thought’ they should be able to stock the land.  These figures were grossly overestimated.  Within a 15 year period, the overstocking had destroyed the countryside and ability to keep grazing.
Old Wilpena Homestead


When we got back to the campground, around lunchtime, we had decided that we would pack up and move to a bush camp further up into the National Park.  Unfortunately we forgot to tell Savannah about this plan.  She was “not happy!”.  She become very upset, saying that she didn’t want to move on, she liked it here, and they hadn’t even swam in the pool yet!!!.  This was heart-wrenching stuff.  Savannah was well known for wanting to stay in nearly every place we stop at, even roadside stops.  She’s a home body and likes where she IS.  This was a little different though, she REALLY meant it, and it took some convincing to talk her back from the edge.  We both nearly caved, she was so heartbroken.  It was awful.  We were later to be validated (as we knew) when she absolutely LOVED our new spot.  Mental note: remember to set expectations on what we are doing early, a rare slip up this time!