Wednesday, 21 November 2012


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


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