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Flinders Ranges - Brachina Gorge via Appealinna Homestead

...with various lookout points

sunny 38 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

Since we are staying at Rawnsley Park Station, overlooked by Rawnsley Bluff which is part of the Rawnsley Range, it may be a plan to see who Rawnsley was. The origin of the name is described on the Rawnsley Park Station website as follows "The name Rawnsley comes from Rawnsley Bluff, the southern tip of the pound. This, in turn, was named after H(enry) C(harles) Rawnsley who arrived from England under false pretences claiming to be a surveyor. Rawnsley spent three months supposedly surveying from Mt. Remarkable to Wilpena before he was recalled by the Colonial Government. We will never know if the prominent landmark or the deception of the man was responsible for the naming of Rawnsley's Bluff." Another site states that he was employed by the NSW government as a surveyor but gives no other details while another site says he was appointed by the SA government but was discharged for incompetence after three months. Perhaps, after all, not a name one would wish to remember?

Our first full day based at Rawnsley Park Station was fine and hot and we drove out onto the Flinders Ranges Way and, a few kilometres on, turned in at the drive to Wilpena Pound.

Panoramic view of Wilpena Pound from the road, with Judith for scale

Panoramic view of Wilpena Pound from the road, with Judith for scale

During the drive in we saw several kangaroos and wallaroos and were to find that wherever we travelled in the Flinders Ranges (now properly known as Ikara-Flinders Ranges although I will use the old form for simplicity), there were more kangaroo-type animals than anywhere else we have been so far. At Wilpena Pound Visitor Centre, we found that to get into the 'pound' we had to have a shuttle bus trip in and then a good walk so decided that we would leave that for tomorrow and satisfy ourselves with a cup of coffee at the cafe. We saw a few birds while there, few co-operating photographically, and more kangaroos and wallaroos on the way out.

Red Kangaroo at rest

Red Kangaroo at rest

Emus below Rawnsley Range (part of the Wilpena Pound Range)

Emus below Rawnsley Range (part of the Wilpena Pound Range)

Mallee Ringneck parrot

Mallee Ringneck parrot

Group of Red Kangaroos

Group of Red Kangaroos

Euro or Common Wallaroo

Euro or Common Wallaroo

The land between the ranges tends to be flat and parched

The land between the ranges tends to be flat and parched

Wilpena is reportedly derived from an Aboriginal word meaning 'place of bent fingers' which could refer to the mountains resembling the shape of a cupped hand or the freezing cold of winter. However, the local Aborigines call the Pound 'Ikara' which means 'meeting place'. All rather confusing for a visitor!

A short way up the main road, we saw a small sign pointing to Cazneaux's tree. Harold Cazneaux was a well-known New Zealand photographer (and grandfather of the well-known Australian entrepreneur, Dick Smith) and his photo of this tree was widely published. We decided that we would see what we could do with the tree and also a few other trees in the vicinity. An interesting exercise in an attractive area.

Panorama containing Cazneaux's Tree

Panorama containing Cazneaux's Tree

Cazneaux's Tree as it is today

Cazneaux's Tree as it is today

As near as possible to Cazneaux's image 'Spirit of Endurance'

As near as possible to Cazneaux's image 'Spirit of Endurance'

Tree-lined creek behind Cazneaux's Tree

Tree-lined creek behind Cazneaux's Tree

A small mob of kangaroos with Cazneaux's Tree in the background

A small mob of kangaroos with Cazneaux's Tree in the background

Travelling further along the Flinders Ranges Way, we stopped at Huck and Stokes Hill Lookouts, both with wonderful views over rugged scenery. At the latter lookout, there is a bronze three-dimensional plaque or tablet which shows the direction and features of Wilpena Pound. I can find no origin of the names Hucks Lookout but Stokes Hill Lookout apparently honours Francis W. Stokes who was an MP and co-owner of a property in the area.

View from Hucks Lookout

View from Hucks Lookout

View from Hucks Lookout with wallaroo sheltering under a tree

View from Hucks Lookout with wallaroo sheltering under a tree

A young wallaroo snug between two grass trees

A young wallaroo snug between two grass trees

Wallaroos out to greet us at Stokes Hill Lookout

Wallaroos out to greet us at Stokes Hill Lookout

View from Stokes Hill Lookout towards Wilpena Pound

View from Stokes Hill Lookout towards Wilpena Pound

Back onto the main road and still heading north, we found another signpost to follow, this time to Appealinna Homestead (the origin of this place name is another which escapes me but it sounds as if it could be of Aboriginal origin). Here we had our picnic lunch before exploring the area and trying not to disturb the local wildlife too much!

Euros in the creek bed

Euros in the creek bed

Two Euros boxing

Two Euros boxing

And now all is calm...for a while

And now all is calm...for a while

In the 1850s, Joseph Wills and his wife set up home on the south side of the creek but, sadly, only ruins remain today. Wills ran a small herd of cattle on the property. On the north side of the creek the base, for a copper mining operation further east, was set up and for many years the use of the water was the cause of an ongoing war of words. One night, Wills' homestead was burnt down. He blamed one of the men in the miners' camp and subsequently he served a spell in jail for taking the law into his own hands (as far as I can find out, he burned down some of the miners' huts in retaliation - not a good move!). In the end, drought caused the Wills family to leave the property. It is a sad story but not atypical of the difficulties besetting people who set out to settle the Outback. Ruins are also all that remains of the mine buildings, the only winners being the local wildlife who seem to flourish along the creek.

The ruins of the homestead

The ruins of the homestead

A magnificent river red gum by the ruins of the kitchen

A magnificent river red gum by the ruins of the kitchen

Partially restored ruins of the Mine Manager's house

Partially restored ruins of the Mine Manager's house

The scrub where Wills' cattle would have subsisted

The scrub where Wills' cattle would have subsisted

Back on the Flinders Ranges Way, we had not gone far when we chanced on a Wedge-tailed Eagle on some roadkill. When we came closer, we found that there were two of these beautiful birds.

Wedge-tailed Eagle perched just by the road

Wedge-tailed Eagle perched just by the road

On starting out, we had decided that Brachina Gorge would be our destination and we now turned off the Flinders Range Way onto the unsealed Brachina Gorge Road. For anyone interested in geology this is a fascinating area. As we drove west, we drove through rocks that date back to 500 million years, gradually coming across older rocks until at the end of the gorge the rocks are 650 million years old. The rocks are sedimentary rocks of various types and have been heaved up and tilted over the aeons, evidence of which is clear to see.

The name Brachina has two suggested origins, both of Aboriginal derivation. The first source contends that the Aboriginal word is one which means'place without trees' and the other source says the origin is a different word meaning 'the place where the emu got forked feet'. Certainly there are plenty of trees in the gorge although this may not always have been the case but I rather like the second suggestion as I can imagine a flat-footed emu getting forked feet from walking over the rocky base of the gorge. I then came across another website which suggested that Brachina is derived from another Aboriginal word meaning'cranky'! I'm still going for emu though.

Brachina Gorge Road was generally good with a few rocky patches further in

Brachina Gorge Road was generally good with a few rocky patches further in

Panorama of the bush alongside the road

Panorama of the bush alongside the road

We start to see some evident results of ancient earth movements, this a bit contorted

We start to see some evident results of ancient earth movements, this a bit contorted

Then we have a gentle tilt of the strata

Then we have a gentle tilt of the strata

And, at the beginning of the gorge, some very tilted formations

And, at the beginning of the gorge, some very tilted formations

The road is a Geological Trail and there are twelve different formations or rock units to be seen, with information posts to tell you what is in each area. It is all quite mind-blowing. This is all part of the Adelaide Geosyncline, which was a trough running from Kangaroo Island up through the Flinders, of which Wilpena Pound is one of more well-known features. Much of the 'trough' has been disguised by subsequent earth movements. It is very rugged terrain but with a beauty of its own and, although predominantly red, with so many colours or shades. We really love this area.

Some way in, we crossed the Aroona River. There was not a lot of water flowing at this time of year but I thought we may find some bird or animal life there so pulled over once we had gone through and walked back. We were rewarded with Chestnut-rumped thornbills, Grey Teal, Spurwing Plovers (I think now known as Masked Lapwing), glimpses of Variegated Fairy-wrens, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters and Grey-fronted Honeyeaters - what a feast - not to mention some rather dashing dragonflies!

Grey Teal

Grey Teal

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater

Grey-fronted Honeyeater

Grey-fronted Honeyeater

The river was quite low

The river was quite low

Red Arrow (dragonfly)

Red Arrow (dragonfly)

The origin of Aroona is rather refreshingly from an Aboriginal word meaning 'running water'. Again there is another suggestion is that the name is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning 'place of frogs'. Although we didn't see or hear any frogs on this trip, either meaning is plausible.

At last we reached the gorge proper and it was stunning - wonderful rock formations, river red gums scattered along the roadside and just a wonderful experience. Not so wonderful, from an environmental perspective was the presence of Feral Goats clambering on the rock ledges.

Steve having a rest in a dry creek bed

Steve having a rest in a dry creek bed

Beautiful stand of river red gums

Beautiful stand of river red gums

Gnarly growth on river red gum trunk

Gnarly growth on river red gum trunk

A majestic river red gum

A majestic river red gum

Feral goat clambering on the rock face

Feral goat clambering on the rock face

Female Red Kangaroo

Female Red Kangaroo

River red gum white bark contrasting with the red walls of the gorge

River red gum white bark contrasting with the red walls of the gorge

One river red gum outdoing the rocks for bending!

One river red gum outdoing the rocks for bending!

Some way through the gorge, Judith spotted a sign stating that a fenced off area was Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby habitat, so we pulled over and had a look. It took a few minutes for our eyes to engage with the landscape and pick out small movements which betrayed the presence of several of the lovely little animals. The road continued round a bend through another part of the gorge and found at least two more, one of them quite close to the road .

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Three 'portraits' of Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies - beautiful animals

Not long after leaving the gorge, we turned south onto the Outback Highway. This is a good (sealed) road running parallel to the Heysen Range which proved quite photogenic. Hans Heysen was a German-Australian artist who specialised in watercolour landscapes with eucalypts as the prime focus. He lived in Hahndorf (see earlier blog for our visit there) and made nine trips to the Flinders Ranges to paint the beautiful trees in the stark landscape. There is a cycle trail that runs from Cape Jervis all the way north into the Flinders Ranges and ending at Parachilna, a town we unfortunately did not have time to get to.

View across bush to the Heysen Range

View across bush to the Heysen Range

Part of the Heysen Range - we can make out a face!

Part of the Heysen Range - we can make out a face!

Heysen Range with (I think( Mount Sinnett

Heysen Range with (I think( Mount Sinnett

Lovely rock formations on Heysen Range

Lovely rock formations on Heysen Range

Mount Abrupt (I think) at the southern end of Heysen Range

Mount Abrupt (I think) at the southern end of Heysen Range

There are many trails through the Flinders Ranges but there appear to be two main ones that vehicles can follow for part of he way and some way past the end of the Heysen Range, we turned off the Outback Highway onto the unsealed Moralana Scenic Drive which is part of the Mawson Trail. This is another cycle trail which runs from just north of Adelaide north to Blinman, another town we would like to have had time to visit. The road wound its way along roughly parallel to the southern part of the Wilpena Pound Range and, again, proved irresistible to our inner photographer. We were rewarded with another gorgeous sunset to cap off a long but thoroughly enjoyable day.

Posted by SteveJD 14:35 Archived in Australia Tagged animals birds australia oceania south_australia flinders_ranges brachina_gorge

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