Friday, May 2, 2014

My First Outback Adventure

As we drove up to the Flinder’s Ranges part of a song I learned as a child, based off of Psalm 139:14, kept running through my head, “Your works are wonderful, wonderful I know.  Your works are wonderful I know that full well.”  The scenery on the entire drive was absolutely astounding.
 It rained the entire drive on Tuesday, but the clouds just made the skyline that much more dramatic.  During our drive up to the Wilpena Pound Resort we had a kangaroo hop across the road in front of us and I even saw kangaroo road kill; they’re just like the deer back home.  Wilpena Pound is a natural amphitheatre of mountains and apparently a "pound" in British English meant an enclosure. On Wednesday morning there was an emu outside our little cabin, but the boys scared it off, of course.  After rain the entire day before, the sky was bright blue, and nearly cloud free for our Wangarra Lookout hike.  I guess you could say it went as well as we should have expected; lots of whining from the boys and constant requests to stop because they were tired.
 The hike was only maybe 7km and didn’t take us nearly as long as we expected.  It was quite a beautiful hike though, and the view from the top of the lookout was of almost all of the pound.
 Since the hike didn’t take anywhere near the length of time we’d planned we still had the whole afternoon free, so we took a drive to see some more beautiful scenery.  We ended up going to a place called Sacred Canyon and although the boys initially didn’t want to get out of the car, they ended up loving it.  Tons of rocks and boulders to crawl over and puddles to climb around (well, most of them were climbed around).  It was a very neat canyon.
 The bits of rock on the ground were these beautiful shades of blue, green and red, but the rocks on the sides of the canyon were just gray and red.  Anyway, on our drive back to the main road we saw over 20 kangaroos, I just couldn’t keep track after 20.  I got a bit of a break Wednesday night, I went to the patio outside the restaurant to read a book by the fire (and just have some peace and quiet) while Lesley made the boys dinner and got them ready for bed.

On Thursday we woke to overcast skies and cooler weather.  We left the resort (it’s not exactly what I would classify as a resort back home, but compared to most outback campgrounds I guess it does qualify) and headed through the Brachina Gorge on our way to Blinman.  The drive through the gorge was beautiful and we stopped somewhere in the middle to eat our lunch.  The gorge is home to the yellowfooted wallaby, but Lesley said you don’t often get to see them and thought we’d be lucky if we saw one.  Well, we were apparently quite lucky because we saw four of them!

 We made it to Blinman and stopped for some coffee and a snack.  They have a bush fruit known as Quandong (it's like a native peach) and they make it into jams and put it in pies and whatnot, so I tried the quandong jam on a biscuit and it was lovely.  The boys are very into the game “Mine Craft” so when Aleksander saw the signs for tour of the mine in Blinman he desperately wanted to go.  Magnus didn’t want to go so I went on the tour of the copper mine with Aleksander while she waited in the car with Magnus.  We were the only two on the tour so it was shortened a bit due to Aleksander’s attention span, but despite that it was quite interesting.  It was mined by Cornish and Welsh miners and they always mined their way up.  They would dig a shaft straight down and then work their way back up following whatever veins of copper they found.  The town had no water for the first thirty-odd years so the death rate was even higher than most mines.

After leaving Blinman and Flinder’s Ranges National Park, the landscape totally changed and it was completely flat!  The clouds made the landscape so incredibly dramatic and the photos just couldn’t do it justice.  All the wide open spaces made me long to go horseback riding.  Our stop for the night was at the Prairie Hotel in Parachilna.
Lesley knows the owners, Jane and Ross, because they’ve been coming up here for years.  The food at this hotel was absolutely amazing.  We had their famous feral foods which includes camel sausage, smoked kangaroo, emu pate, kangaroo mettwurst, goat cheese, and bush tomato chilli jam.  After dinner we headed outside so the boys could light their sparklers and play with glow sticks.  When we came back inside Jane and three of the staff girls were having dinner and we all ended up chatting for several hours.  By 10pm it was finally decided that we should get the boys into bed, but it was too late.  Magnus had a meltdown of epic proportions, I’ll spare you the gory details, but it was a pleasant enough evening despite the ugly ending.
We basically drove straight back on Friday, but the views were still spectacular – a mix of rain and sun throughout the day, we even saw some rainbows.  It was technically my first trip into the outback and the views are indeed spectacular!

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