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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Heading to Lake Eyre

True to the weather forecasts, the rain started again on our last night at Wilpena. It was forecast to continue for a couple of days, with a window of two mostly sunny days before the next lot of rain. Obviously it would be no fun driving up the Oodnadatta Track to Lake Eyre South and camping in the tent overnight in the rain, so we were watching the weather websites closely as we took a few days to travel the couple of hundred kilometres to Lyndhurst, where we would leave the caravan. The upside of a few days of rain was to get us caught up on photos and the blog (that’s when I did the last blog) and some interesting sunsets through breaks in the clouds.

As we left Lyndhurst on Wednesday morning it was still cloudy, but seemed to be clearing. The further north we went the better the weather became. We knew we were in the outback as we camped at the beginning of the Strzelecki Track in Lyndhurst, passed the beginning of the Birdsville track in Marree and travelled the first 100kms of the Oodnadatta Track.

Most of our trip followed the old Ghan railway line, with with relics of days gone by at intervals along the way. One local has created a number of sculptures on his property which added further interest to the trip.

Much of the landscape is flat, but the effects of water can be clearly seen in dips and hollows that obviously become raging torrents when the rains come.

We had lunch at the Lake Eyre South lookout, and went for a walk down to the lake. When we had first glimpsed the lake it seemed like the water was not too far from the track, but further on at the lookout the water was a long, long way away. After visiting the Pink Lakes in NSW a few months ago we were expecting to be able to walk out on a salt crust, but the recent rain had left the crust soggy.

Even though the lake is usually dry when it has water in it there are fish! Lake Eyre South only has water from local rain over the last few months, not from flows coming from further north, making this even more amazing. As the water evaporates, though, it’s hard for them to survive.

We decided to go back to where the water was closer to the road to find a camp spot for the night, following 4WD tracks off the road and towards a knoll. Not only did this give us a better view, but also some protection from the wind. It was a great camp spot, on the edge of Lake Eyre, with a full moon and a lingering sunset.

The next morning we woke before sunrise to a perfectly calm and clear day. As we enjoyed porridge by the camp fire the cloud once again started to accumulate, but the wind didn’t come up. We had a great couple of hours enjoying the reflections and playing mind games with the invisible horizon.

The wheel tracks weren’t ours – we’re not that stupid – but loved the way they seem to disappear into the clouds.

Are the seagulls on the horizon, or standing on the water’s edge?

And my personal favourite, ‘island in the sky’.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Flinders Ranges

Once again the weather seemed like it was going to dampen our hiking aspirations. Mostly cloudy, mostly sunny, showers developing. We wanted to climb St Marys Peak, the highest point in the Flinders Ranges, so decided that would be done on the ‘mostly sunny’ day. A drive and a lesser walk to Red Hill Lookout would have to suffice for the mostly cloudy day. As the day progressed, though, the cloud lessened, and it turned into a great day for looking out over the Heysen Range.

The afternoon sun brought out some amazing colours on the way home.

The mostly sunny day was sunny. Very sunny. We did a loop walk with a long slow up and a very, very steep down. The views were amazing and we’re still sore!

Showers developing turned into mostly sunny, but we were in no state for any serious walking after our climb the previous day, so we went for a drive back to a couple of lookouts, and wandered along a creek bed for a couple of kilometres.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A sneak peak at the top of the Eyre Peninsula

After the few days of walking our focus shifted to marking – five and half 10 hour days for Leanne and a couple of days for Dazz (guess who was on all domestic duties?). We stopped long enough in Port Augusta for a photo and then it was on to Point Lowly, just north of Whyalla, the designated camp spot for marking. It was a pretty spot, but we only saw what there was to see from the caravan! Fortunately that included a nice view of the water, and an amazing sunrise.

The last afternoon we managed a quick trip in to Whyalla to do some shopping and take a few photos from the lookout.

Mt Remarkable NP

We both had marking to do last week, but there was nowhere convenient (i.e. free, where we could run the generator) to stop until after passing Mt Remarkable NP. With walks beckoning we put off the marking for a few days, knowing we would be extra busy squeezing it in before we were booked at Wilpena Pound.

The first day the weather was overcast and showery (again – seems like we’ve had a lot of that) so we chose a drive to the northern end of the park with a short walk through a gorge. After descending a few hundred metres down a staircase into the gorge we walked along to the first point of interest. There was a fine misty rain, so we sat in under a ledge in order to take some photos. It was only then that the photographer remembered that the camera battery was on the charger in the car. By the time we got back to the staircase to continue on the loop walk the rain had stopped and there were some glimpses of blue sky, so up he went to get the battery. The sun disappeared again, so the photos from the rest of the walk weren’t stunning, but at least we have photos.

We would have liked to have been up Hancock’s Lookout on a clear day, with views over the top of the Spencer Gulf, but we had even grander plans for the following day which was forecast to be sunny.

Mt Remarkable is characterised by scree slopes, according to the brochures, and this is indeed true. The walk was a steady climb of 6kms, looping back and forth across scree. Unfortunately the view from the top (and east toward the Spencer Gulf) is now obscured by trees but at least the views out to the east were magnificent all the way up and down. We also spied an echidna and a great lizard on our way down.