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Gawler Ranges and Mount Ive Station

A touch of the Outback

sunny 34 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

We left Ceduna behind with a light heart and headed (generally) eastwards, stopping at Poochera for about the best (bought) coffee we have had since being in Australia. We both find that most black coffee here is far too strong and either needs sugar to make it drinkable or, in a couple of cases, is so bad that we have demanded refunds! To avoid embarrassment, Judith has mostly taken to drinking cappuccino while I continue to live dangerously. The very pleasant bloke who provided the coffee was also able to confirm that the roads from Minnipa were actually open (one of those minor things that need to be checked) and gave us a better map of the area than we had.

Judith was still doing most of the driving at this stage and she took us off the main road at Minnipa and onto unsealed roads into the Gawler Ranges. The ranges were named in 1839 after George Gawler, Governor of South Australia, by Edward Eyre on one of his earlier expeditions. Just inside the Gawler Ranges National Park is a side track to the Organ Pipes, a rock formation similar to but smaller than the Giant’s Causeway, also caused by volcanic activity. Judith’s driving skills (and nerve) were put to the test (as were mine as a passenger!) as the track was definitely only for high clearance vehicles and at times dipped and rose at about 45-degree angles, sometimes with an added sideways tilt – what fun! We finally reached the parking place where there was a board informing us that the Organ Pipes were 500 metres along a track – someone can’t measure, as it was a good deal further. This was our first day of heat (mid 30s) and the walk was mostly in the open, so a good test for my recovery – I got there and back and Judith just breezed along but then she is still a spring chicken, sort of!


I endured the drive back onto the main ‘road’ and then a bit further on had a chance to remember what it is like driving on a dirt road – good fun! We stopped at the ruins of an old shearing shed before carrying on to Mount Ive Station where a pleasant young Frenchwoman checked us in. We found our odd little cottage and enjoyed a barbecue dinner. The light in the kitchen did not work and nor did the overhead fan – ho hum! After dinner we enjoyed seeing the Milky Way and a myriad stars as we have not seen them for a long time. We tried to take star photos but neither of us had much success – my camera was on a wrong setting and I have mislaid my remote-control cable (for firing off without causing camera shake). We had brought a tripod all this way exactly for this purpose and, on this occasion, blew it!


The following morning, we discovered that we had about 30 seconds of a dribble of hot water before we got, at best, a dribble of cold. I reported this to a very pleasant young Scot who said that it couldn’t be fixed that day, so I opted for an extra day in Port Augusta and she promptly refunded the two days’ payment in full! I presume the French lass is there on a working visa and the Scottish girl said that she was originally on a working visa but had opted to stay longer, although she was going back to Scotland for Christmas. She was happy for us to continue to make the trip to Lake Gairdner and only pack up to leave when we had done that, so we headed up to see a corner of a huge, sparkling salt lake. I’m not sure how ‘they’ measure the length of a lake shaped as Lake Gairdner is but they say it is about 160km long and 33km wide. The area that we could see was only a small corner of the lake, perhaps 10km in length but even so it seemed to be endless. It is very difficult to get a photograph which shows the immensity of the place so take my word – it is vast!


On the way back from the lake, we took a couple of rough tracks, one to see the Embankment – a brick wall built across a gap in the hills in the late 19th century now used mainly as a goat track by the myriad goats on the property and another to see a different formation of Organ Pipes. The latter we assume are similar to those we saw the previous day but the track became undrivable and as far as we could make out, the walk would have been even further – too far in the heat of the day. I've included one photo to show the scrubby nature of the bush on what we saw of the station. There were some trees, as you can see in the emu and kangaroo pictures but they were fairly spartan.


Once we had handed the key back at Mt Ive, I drove most of the unsealed road to Iron Knob (an early BHP mine for – guess what?!) and then Judith took us on into Port Augusta. I feel that I am making progress as regards the hip which makes the trip even better!

Posted by SteveJD 15:32 Archived in Australia

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Such adventures. So pleased to read that the hip is improving. You have recovered remarkably well.

Travel safely and look forward to the ne t update.

by Lorraine

Thanks Lorraine. We hope you enjoy hearing about our travels - we are certainly loving it with something new to amaze or please us each day.

by SteveJD

Your not going to want to come home. Or you going to start planning the next trip

I didn’t know that you used to live in Queensland before Perth.

by Lorraine

Give us a chance! We'll need a break as organising this and then having to unpick it has been a testing job. Judith decided she would like to live on the Atherton Tablelands but that was a couple of days ago! However, we already had a half planned trip to Spain and France which may well get resurrected when we eventually get back home.
We had 18 months in Brisbane but we couldn't settle although in hindsight we had some good times there and still have good friends from that short stay.

by SteveJD

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