Never thought I’d be stuck for words – but the Road to Ikara-Flinders and the 10 days spent in the Flinders Ranges have left me reflective, inspired, transformed and thirsty for more. It is nigh impossible to do the experience justice by trying to describe or explain – any one of you who have had the experience of the desert, the vast outback and the beauty of the mountains and creeks of this land so precious and sacred to the indigenous peoples of Australia will know what I mean.
The vastness, the beauty – colours, textures … flora, fauna – the light, the dark – the timelessness of the land evokes a sense of spirituality and connectedness with it – It leaves you introspective and re-evaluating purpose and identity – it confronts you with it’s harsh colonial history and disenfranchisement of its traditional owners – it throws light on the hardships of the early setters, the clearing of immeasurable tracks of land by pastoralists, miners, farmers …. the destruction of native forests, the erosion of the land, pollution of water sources … it forces you to think about the environment – the future and your own role in it.
Yes, it has been said before and now I have experienced it – ‘the vast outback gets into you’ … and it did.
I am sitting here in Victor Harbour on the Fleurieu Peninsula (luxuriating at friends Suzanne and Gary’s) reflecting on the past three weeks. I have my hand written journal to prompt me and refer to. I have decided that the only way I can share my experience of the Flinders Ranges is to summarise it with ‘sweeping’ statements .. augmented by my photographs and some relevant historical and geological facts that I am including for my own information… you can fill in the blanks by your very own creative imagination … or be motivated to embark on your own journey – Here goes… Warning: It is still going to be a long read!
Driving towards, into and through the Flinders ranges has been the most incredible experience – being able to spend time here walking, contemplating, drawing and just experience being has been a total privilege. I have already described the road to this place – the desert, the plains, the vastness of the horizon – now here, the valleys and towering mountains are spectacular. Wildlife is abundant – wedge-tailed eagles, brown hawks, and kites hover majestic in the clear blue sky. Emus and kangaroos – yellow foot wallabies, brightly coloured birds and reptiles such as goanna thrive –
As a migrant to this country, I can say that at last – this verse from the poem “My Country” by Dorothea McKellar has started to make some sense to me – the great ‘outback’
“I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of rugged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.”
It is impossible to imagine that 120 million years ago most of the ‘sun-burnt’ continent of Australia was under water. Even harder to imagine is a time 800 million years ago when the Flinders Ranges in South Australia were created.
At this time, great forces of nature lifted the entire east coast of Australia clear out of the sea creating a deep inland hollow. Over the next several million years, the sea flooded in, depositing huge amounts of rock and debris, and leaving behind a fractured, furrowed landscape characterised by deep valleys, rippled sea floors and the fossils of countless sea creatures.
The stunning Northern Flinders Ranges country belongs to the Adnyamathana people. ‘Adnya’ means rock and ‘mathana’ means people – the Adnyamathana people are ‘the people of the rocks’.
The local Adnyamathana – that means hills or rock people – have a deep understanding of the land. Their stories of how this ancient landscape was created are I think, as fascinating as the scientist’s explanations.
Many natural features throughout the Flinders Ranges are connected with stories from the “creating time”. Aboriginal dreamtime and dreaming are also terms white men use to explain what the Aborigines call “Tjukurrpa“.
There are two Aboriginal legends about the creation of the Flinders Ranges -The Yura Muda Aboriginal legend tells how Wilpena Pound was formed by the bodies of two giant serpents that could not move after eating the people who had gathered there for a ceremony. St Mary Peak forms the head of the male serpent, while Beatrice Hill forms the head of the female.
According to another Aboriginal legend, the rocky Northern Flinders Ranges was formed by an argument between two kangaroos and was separated from Lake Frome by the sweep of a kangaroo’s tail.
The last full-blooded Adnyamathana died in 1973, but many members of this tribal group live in the area. They have still strong ties to the land. We were lucky enough to hear some of these stories at a performance at the Ikara Amphitheatre. The experience left me wanting more and I am sure that one day soon, I will return to the Iga Warta community to learn from the custodians of this land.
WALKS AND EXPLORATIONS
We were joined at Hawker for a week of walking, exploring and artistic contemplation by my photographer and artist friend Paul. I was rather envious of his camping rig – it has certainly left me thinking about what I may want to be able to continue such adventures. This may be a good time to mention the amazing capacity of my little red Mazda 2 – this small 2WD with 3 adults in it, coped admirably on rutted roads, rocky creek beds, up steep hills and down into valleys – it didn’t skip a beat. In fact, over the week, it became quite well known in the area – as the little red car being referred to as ‘surely you didn’t come down that track in that?’ The track was in some cases a 4WD terrain! Ingrid renamed her the ‘Red Runner’.
Jervis Lookout Sunset
ARKAROO ROCK AND IKARA (First Visit)
At daylight the sky is a soft pink. I’m excited about travelling ‘into’ the ranges – to experience the colour, beauty and spaces that have been written, painted and photographed so much. As we drove north the cloudy sky throws a muted light on the landscape flattening the western ranges into a solid form without much detail. A stop at Arkaba Lookout for a quick walk and sketch – the sky had started to clear and as it did sunlight cast a paint brush over the majestic Rawnsley Bluff – spectacular rugged escarpments and the perfect place for the great wedge-tail eagle to soar…
Arkaroo Rock, at the southern boundaries of Flinders Ranges, is a small but important art site of the Aborigines in the Flinders Ranges. Ochre and charcoaled images of emu and bird tracks describe the creation of Wilpena Pound.
On our first day there Ingrid and I decided we could tackle this track which leads to a small rock shelter adorned with ochre and charcoal artwork drawn by the region’s first inhabitants, the Adnyamathana people.
The start of the walk appeared pretty harmless – a gravel well groomed path shaded by black mulga, acacia and eucalyptus – Distracted by photo opportunities of the flora and fauna, the textures and colours we were unaware of the changing walking conditions. The path had now given way to challenging conditions – as it climbed there were more tree roots and rocks and further along the precipitous track reached ‘rock clambering’ status – time to re-consider … the idea of sliding down or a broken limb did not appeal – unfortunately we did not make it to the top. Nevertheless, an adventure is now etched in our memory.
Having given up on this challenge and with the rest of the day ahead we decide to drive ahead to Ikara – Wilpena Pound. The drive is sublime – The winding road cuts through the valley between the beautiful Chace and Elder Ranges. The road is sealed and lined with magnificent stands of ghost and river gums in dry creek beds, clumps of Murray Pines and the occasional splash of yellow acacia. The constant presence of ‘road kill’ is both un nerving and serves as a warning to be ever vigilant. The best part of the drive was when I first saw these majestic rocky escarpments rising up from the plains, surrounding Wilpena Pound like the walls of a giant fortress. At last, we had arrived at the doorstep of an ancient wonderland.
Lunch at the resort was a bit of a ‘fizzer’ so we proceeded to explore the old Woolshed that was currently part of the ‘Brush with Flinders’ Art exhibition. The art was interesting and ‘OK’ – I was more impressed and interested by the actual Woolshed structure and history – the camera gets a solid workout – light on the old wood, doorways … corrugated window cladding, lanolin oiled floorboards. In the paddocks beyond rusted old farm machinery set against the deepening reds of the ranges against a bright blue afternoon sky – heaven.
The drive back in late afternoon provides spectacular natural lighting effects – the ranges, now in panorama, are lit up in gold, green, black – pink, red and ochre striations reveal the ancient geological history – dead tired we pull in to Pugilist Lookout and drag ourselves up the hill to gain the best vantage point.
It’s back to the cabin for a whiskey – crackers and a cup of soup!!
IKARA-WILPENA (2ND VISIT) OLD WILPENA STATION
Paul arrived today – early enough to pack in a second visit to Arkaroo Rock –As this was our second visit, he walked and climbed and we sketched and contemplated… I was joined for a few moments by a friendly Shingleback who stopped to feed on the wildflowers growing at my feet – friendly and fearless – this was a very special interlude.
The destination for the day was the Old Wilpena Station Homestead.
On first impression, Old Wilpena Station is a most scenic pastoral settlement and after reading some of the historical notes, I understand an important part of South Australian colonial history.
This massive property of some 2000 Sq. Kilometres was established in the 1800s. It ran sheep and cattle and eventually grew wheat. A working station for 135 years, Old Wilpena Station slipped into ‘retirement’ in 1985, and is now an archive of pastoral history. It is also an important Aboriginal heritage site. Ikara-Wilpena Pound and the Wilpena Station lands have enduring cultural significance for the Adnyamathana people of the Flinders Ranges.
There is plenty of information along the walking trail – also one of the first trails that acknowledges and informs in two voices – that of the traditional owners and the voices of settlers who struggled through drought and over-grazed the land so much they (luckily) they had to abandon the area and leave it to recover some of the damage they had caused.
The homestead was built right along the creek (now dry) – surrounded by what must be the most majestic old eucalypti I have ever seen (I know you are getting tired of this statement from me – but every time I think I’ve seen the best – it just gets better). Some of them destroyed in flood and drought lie on their sides or are hollowed out making ideal shelters for fauna – we tread carefully – this has got to be snake heaven! These are the trees that captivated photographer Harry Cazneaux.
Cazneaux’s camera captured the life of the world as it changed around him.
The Cazneaux Tree near Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges is a solitary river red gum tree that came to fame in 1937 – he called it the “Spirit of Endurance” in his attempt to capture the harshness and resilience of life in the Australian outback. For me there were many wonderful specimens – pure beauty in their size, texture, colour and shape – these are now both in my camera archives and etched in my mind and heart.
We walk around the old homestead – there is a small fruit orchard – spring blossom decks the dark tree limbs – a wooden swing sits idle – not for long – my travelling companions both have the urge to try it out. Wild purple irises have survived the ages and are rampant through parts of the garden. A large porch surrounds the classic sandstone building – pink and warm in the afternoon sun. There are iridescent green and blue parrots squawking at the invasion of their space – we are the only ones there and this is clearly and infringement of their domain.
Strolling down there are a number of ‘buildings’ – There is a wooden/mud structure that is labelled the ‘Book keepers’ Hut and a ‘Motor Home’.
The old ‘Store House’ is made of solid brick – in the alcoves below there is an ancient cropping machine and a humongous slab of tree – possibly laid out to dry before sawing. The building had been partially destroyed by fire.
Further down across the paddock – we come to what has to be my favourite of these structures – the ‘Blacksmith’s Workshop’. The tool, forge, sharpening stone, chains – all looked in perfect working order – it really did look like the blacksmith could return to his task any moment now – I am in my element – this is the perfect fix for my ‘rust lust’ – I busily run around scratching at rusted nails, half broken horse shoes, buckets, lids …. I’m hoping my anti Tetanus shot is up to date – I don’t want to leave here. I tear myself away to examine the Blacksmith’s cottage – this is the building in most disrepair and we are unable to enter it.
I am inserting a link to more information on the Homestead for those interested in the history.
We walk back towards the car admiring the landscape that bears the scars of ravaging drought and flood – there were the old chook pens ( I wonder how they kept the snakes out?) .. we gather a few rocks from the small creek bed – we had been walking around for about 3 hours now – in need of a toilet and a cold drink we find ourselves back at the visitor centre. We sit on the balcony sipping a fruit juice and enjoying the cool breeze that whispers through the tall trees – the walkers are returning from their various trails – the relevant level of challenge evident on their faces.
We head home in a reflective mood – not much conversation but observing the approaching evening light on the landscape –and as the driver – avoiding the possibility of crossing wildlife.
Arrived home to the cabin at Hawker – a cool beer and a BBQ under a resplendent setting sun.
BRACHINA GEOLOGICAL TRAIL, BLINMAN and PARACHILNA and GLASS GORGES
Today was the day that really tested my car’s capabilities. We were keen to tackle the “road” that winds through Brachina Gorge and connects with the highway that heads to the town of Parachilna. Fortunately, there hadn’t been any rain for some time so the pebble-lined creeks that flowed through the gorges weren’t too deep – besides, the car tyres and wheels were in bad need of a rinse!!
It was an extraordinary drive through 130 million years of geological history.
580 million years ago a giant asteroid slammed into the Gawler Ranges. It hit with such force that debris from the impact spread to a region we now know as the Flinders Ranges, some 300 kilometres to the east. But at that time the Flinders had yet to be formed, and the area was a vast inland sea.
The debris settled into the water above earlier deposits, and over the millions of years that followed, many more layers of sediment piled on top.
Much later, movements in the earth’s crust compressed, folded and uplifted these sedimentary layers, forming towering mountains much higher than the Flinders we see today. Erosion then chewed into the ranges, slowly ripping them apart and exposing the warped and tilted strata. The Flinders Ranges have been referred to as the ‘cradle of life’ and the home to the ‘golden spike’ of the Ediacaran Period which is, the first geological time period to be declared in the Southern Hemisphere.
My friend Suzanne (who has just completed walking the Heysen Trail) has just told me that someone described Brachina Gorge as the ‘Vatican’ for Geologists.
The Gorge meanders its way through sharp saw tooth ridges of resistant quartzite.
Brachina was once used as a pass through which bullock teams pulled their loads – if they could do it why couldn’t my little car? “Brachina” derived from the Aboriginal word ‘vachina’, meaning cranky, refers to a mythical argument between birds over a grind stone.
Once again the road starts off on a relatively decent track for a 2WD vehicle – red dirt with mild corrugations and salt bush landscape occasionally interrupted by the classic outback ‘windmill’.
Before us lies an expanse of low hills dotted with pines and shrubs. Beyond this, rising up above all else, are the imposing walls of the Flinders Ranges’ most iconic feature, Ikara-Wilpena Pound. The road winds climbing slowly towards this massive structure – its craggy escarpment bared to the skies like an open wound – inviting us in. We reach a high point and look out – the panorama is breathtaking. With the aid of our large camera lenses and my binoculars we observe families of emu grazing under the river gums – we consult about going ahead and agree that it is worth the risk. This, of course is heaven for me – as I have always secretly wanted to be a rally driver – I felt that if we treated the track and the car with respect we would be fine – this is where the M2 earned her stripes and got renamed the ‘Red Runner’.
The road was now barely a road – a stone track quite capable of shredding tyres – I find it difficult to keep my attention as I am being bombarded with nature’s eye candy – Brachina Creek squeezes through a colourful canyon of quartzite bluffs, apparently among the toughest rocks in the Flinders, and possibly the last to submit to erosion’s relentless attack. The palette of colours is wide and deep, strata of mineral deposits glisten in the sun … We are now driving up the creek bed, which has been carved out of the ABC Range over 590 million years. Huge river red gums suck moisture from deep below the dry creek bed and native pines whisper in the breeze. x
We stop to take in the enormity of our surrounds – there is water at the bottom of Brachina Gorge – beautiful reflecting green pools teeming with life – small dragon flies hover over the water vegetation – lotus like plants twist and curl around each other. Ingrid and I collect stones –Paul balances on rocks attempting macro photos over the water. This is the place to which artist, Hans Heysen, returned nine times, to paint what he saw as “the bones of nature laid bare”. I can well see why and I look forward to re examining his paintings as I am sure to view them in a different light of appreciation.
We eventually navigate our way safely out of the gorge and after many, many photo stops – we couldn’t help ourselves – around every bend was a magical scene to rival the previous one. I will return here to camp and walk these trails – time is what is needed.
Arriving at the historic and picturesque mining town of Blinman, we are famished. We have heard that the Blinman Bakery serves up the best ‘original’ Cornish pastys and scrumptious Quandong (Native Peach) pies. I later learn that the Adnyamathana word for Quandong is Uti. Hungry as we were we wanted to reach the famous Prairie Hotel at Parachilna for lunch. We decided to get some ‘take away’ for our dinner and have a quick look at the town before tackling the 30 Km drive.
Blinman is the sole survivor of numerous copper towns that once dotted the Flinders Ranges. Nestled in the central Flinders Ranges, it is the highest town in South Australia. The town began with the discovery of copper in 1859 and commencement of mining in 1862. Unfortunately, we did not have time to explore the mine which is now open to visitors. I learn that at its peak the population of Blinman was over 1500 . Today, this settlement apparently has a permanent population of just 22.
We turn off towards Parachilna – after 500 metres the road turns to gravel – the sign says – steep winding unsealed road – 29 Kms. Here we go again – it was now 1.30 pm and I held out little chance of navigating our way through Glass and Parachilna Gorge in time for lunch t the Prairie. But there was little choice – I for one wasn’t interested in turning back – luckily nether were my travelling companions.
From Blinman at an elevation of approximately 600 m, the winding road goes down, and down and down. Parachilna creek has cut its way deep into the mountains, leaving a steep and rocky gorge. The road appeared to be in reasonable shape however, very winding, narrow in parts and with a lot of crests. We crossed the creek a few times in the gorge – of course, we had not heeded advice about the water in the creeks – and, we had not seen any other 2WD vehicles!! We survived – say no more – but my heart did skip a beat now and then.
Of course, there were more stupendous colours and sheer rocks we discussed their beauty and age and imagined the power needed to fold them up to their present appearance. The rocks glowed red in the afternoon sun.
Majestic river red gum trees line the creek at the bottom of the gorge. There were no designated camping sites– despite warnings not to camp in the creek bed or on the banks given that rain can turn these into raging torrents … there were several campers at the bottom of the gorge.
I am getting anxious about the time – the road climbs out of the gorge and flattens to a corrugated dusty track – 4WDs whizz past us creating minor dust storms – It’s 2.40 … we thought we had missed out on lunch. We spot a sign advertising the hotel advertising their ‘feral’ BBQ – The restaurant has a good reputation. People fly in from all over Australia and overseas to try what they call “feral food”. Dishes made from products of the area. Emu, kangaroo, native Quandong, bush tomatoes etc.
Finally, we arrive at Parachilna –
Parachilna has an official permanent population of just two, and its remoteness adds to the character. The word Parachilna comes from the Aboriginal patajilnda, meaning “place of peppermint gum trees”, and was an area prized for its red ochre by the Aboriginal people.
The town was originally surveyed close to the gorge in the foothills of the Flinders Ranges in 1863. It was moved to its present place when the Great Northern Railway was built about 10 km away from the settlement. The railway provided the supplies for the growing mining town Blinman.
The derelict railway station and the grand old pub, called Prairie hotel, and a few other buildings remained. Today, Parachilna has a population of 7. The railway line opposite the pub is still in use. However, it isn’t the Great Northern Railway anymore. Trains passing by come from Leigh Creek in the north, and bring their huge loads of coal down to Port Augusta. These are “monster trains” of up to 3 km in length. We learn that It takes 5 minutes until the entire train has passed by.
The Prairie Hotel is just as it appears in the photos I have seen – Four generations of the Fargher family have run sheep and cattle in the Flinders Ranges.
From 1984 the current generation – Ross runs the family’s 800sq km Nilpena Station, 35kms north of Parachilna, and Jane runs the Prairie Hotel.
We rush into the bar – 2.45 pm – and we are the last to be able to order lunch – Whew!! No feral BBQ for us – Ingrid and I settle for Spencer Gulf Whiting and Salad and Paul tries a Kangaroo Parmigiana – all washed down with an icy cold beer – would have loved to try the Fargher lager on tap – but I didn’t think 7% alcohol and driving home would mix.
We are sated and can now engage with the wonderful artwork on the walls – Painters of The Desert the current exhibition, has some wonderful work from both indigenous and non indigenous artists. We move to the front bar where we meet Jane and chat about the history of the hotel and its clientele. There are couple of old codgers at the bar who are willing to joke and chat – I’d hate to think they were getting in their cars after their stint at the bar!
The afternoon sun is getting lower – across the road from the hotel are two cleverly designed metal sculptures – One is the town sign of Parachilna – we are told that the sun sets at a particular point embodying itself into the sculptured scene. The other is a movable metal shell of a ‘camera body’ and a metal frieze of the Old Ghan – when you place your camera in this shell and look at the frieze it appears that the train is coming toward you on the track.
We walk along the tracks to the old water tanks and station – I am now eating, breathing and hearing flies … I cannot stand it – my fly net is in the car!! However, such triviality rarely gets in the way of photo opportunities – rust, old machinery, broken furniture, window frames …. All holding the stories of the past.
We walk back to the hotel past the ‘ATCO’ camp – the cheaper accommodation – they look like old movie sets – quite possible as the Prairie Hotel and surrounds are a popular site for film shoots. International Director Phillip Noyce and Director of Photography Chris Doyle shot the feature film “Rabbit-Proof Fence” in the Flinders Ranges in 2006. Among others are : Robbery under Arms, The Lighthorseman and Gallipoli. I also know that several international motor companies choose this setting for their car commercials. My niece Rachel was recently here in the line of such work.
An ice-cream and then back in the car for the long drive home – as we were driving south the ranges to our left were lit up by a glorious evening light. We stop half way to photograph an old railway house ruin – there must have been several of these along the track in days gone by. A lot of time was also spent staring at local circling wedge tailed eagles, diving peregrine falcons, patrolling emus and curious kangaroos and wallabies.
I am tiring now– the stress of wild life vigilance is getting to me – beautiful fauna – I just don’t want contact with them with my car! I try and stay focused while gazing at the ever deepening dense dark sky – a new moon starts to appear and feint signs of stars are sprinkled in the night sky.
Relief as we spot the sign for Hawker – we agree that stopping at the Old Ghan Bar for a drink is on the cards. We enter and are greeted by Bob Anderson – owner, chef and raconteur – he’s lived here some 30 years. A collector of car badges he has plenty of tales to tell – we sip on a cold Corona and decide that it may be fun to come back here for dinner on our last night- so a reservation was made.
Once again –Gin and Tonic back at the cabin – I was totally exhausted, however, not too exhausted to enjoy our Blinman Pasty. The Quandong Pie had to wait till the next day.– It had been one of the most memorable days of my life. Something happened to me in Brachina Gorge – deep stirrings … I will save that reflection for my personal journal.
MORALANA SCENIC DRIVE and THE OLD GHAN RESTAURANT
Today we agreed that we would have a slow start to the day – time to reflect, to draw and just be. I know I needed the break from driving. An afternoon sojourn was planned to take in the beauty of the Moralana drive which in the afternoon is suggested in a West to East direction.
This is a 28 km connection between the Hawker – Wilpena Rd. It is supposed to be beautiful drive along the valley of Moralana creek and Six Mile creek. The valley lies between the Elder Range and the south-western rampart of Wilpena Pound.
We drive up the Outback Highway and 47 Km on turn into Moralana Track – not even 20 metres in I know this is going to be the worst we have tackled –deep corrugations with nowhere to go – loose gravel and rocks … but in the distance, past the saltbush foreground we can see the stunning escarpments turning into that ‘Flinders’ purple blue hue– bright yellow wattle trees make a splash against the dark background – there are dry river beds with sheer red cliffs – tall stands of ghost gums white and sculptural leaning into the red rocks – white, yellow, gold, pink barks of trees – there are sheep so dirty you can hardly see them – families of emu .. the occasional wallaby.
We are travelling at an excruciating 8-10 km an hour – the road winds and dips – a couple of 4Wds pass us – and look at us in surprise – we persevere for a while – I am now getting quite anxious as the terrain appears to be getting worse . I inform my friends that we have only traveled 6 Km of the 28 … it is starting to get dark – it has taken us almost 2 hours!! We then notice a sign on a post that says 4WD track … how did we miss this?
Turning back was the only choice – a good one I believe. We stop to have a ‘bushwhacker’ biscuit and a drink – a 4WD stops to inquire if we are OK – they are surprised we had got this far!!
On the way back there are flocks of white cockatoos dotted against the darkening sky – a single windmill makes a wonderful silhouette in the landscape …
I am total exhausted – amazed that the car has survived all it has been put through so far – it is covered in dirt and dust – inside and out … I’m not quite sure the stuff will ever be able to be cleaned out. Drink – Eat – Sleep … tomorrow is another day and another adventure awaits us.
IKARA-WILPENA (3RD Visit) HILLS , HOMESTEAD WALK –GRAND FINAL DAY – AUSTRALIAN BOYS CHOIR AND IGA WARTA STORIES BILLY TEA AND FRUIT CAKE
It’s Grand Final day of the AFL and I am so pleased not to be interested in the outcome – though there is some local enthusiasm – it’s the Adelaide Crows V the Richmond Tigers – I say –‘who cares?’
After a coffee at the Sightseers Café in Hawker we drive back to Ikara-Wilpena for the day. We have heard that the Australian Boys Choir are performing in the Amphitheatre at 1.00pm.
We get there early so we can walk one of the trails – we choose the Hills Homestead trail which is supposed to be 1-2 hours. The trail leads us through the tranquil Pound Gap, to the old Hill homestead.
We are captivated by the flora along this trail as it follows Wilpena Creek through tall river red gums and pines. I love these trees – the colour of the bark and foliage – my camera works overtime. We spend far more time than anyone else we see on the trail – observing the ‘organic chaos’ of the creek bed, guessing at colour palettes to represent sections of the forest, stopping for photos or to admire a fallen log or lichen on a rock. Time to return for the performance …
We get back in time to secure a couple of prime seats – Paul provides us with some Emu and Wattle seed sausage hot dogs being sold at a fund raising bush BBQ – delicious!! We are entertained by an Aboriginal elder ‘Noelene’ who plays her guitar and sings stories of her people – she belongs to the Adnyamathana Women’s choir and has performed with Kiri TeKanawa.
A fire smokes in the background and the Australian Boys Choir arrives in their red T Shirts… I observe the demographic cultural mix of the members – pleased to say, much more representative of Australia’s diversity than I had expected. They are later joined by a small group of ‘consorts’ (older boys) for the performance.
Their angelic voices fill the amphitheatre with lullabies from both traditional western and indigenous (these have been provided to them by the people of Iga Warta) compositions. There are some songs composed by contemporary Australian composers on issues such as bush fires, the stolen generation, reconciliation and the environment.
The music and the setting is sublime – Indigenous musician and storyteller Buck McKenzie finishes the program with some traditional songs and stories – the fire smokes against the Eucalyptus background, Currawongs join in, a family of emus can be sighted in the distance – and on cue three Kangaroos hop past the scene –
There are many indigenous people in the audience – some wearing their Crow supporter scarves proudly waving and singing along.
This was a magical experience – what a way to spend an AFL Grand Final Day!!
The crowds cleared fast, they were rushing off to see the game on the Resort screen – it was peaceful and an excellent time to bring out the Billy for some tea and slice of delicious Fruit Cake (Thanks Kerrie and Beryl) We stop on the way home for a small sketching stint –
The drive home is stressful again – I come very close to hitting a Kangaroo which had me jumpy for the rest of the trip – At this stage, I think I was also absorbing the anxiety of my passengers. Pleased to say – all was well – this evening I had really earned that G&T.
Dinner at the Old Ghan was enjoyable – the idea of losing an hours sleep with Daylight saving and packing that car was playing on my mind –
My time in the Flinders Ranges has been one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had. It has left me wanting more. I will now re-assess my future travel choices and am leaning toward – more road trips.
Paul leaves and heads back to Ballarat tomorrow. It has been wonderful to spend time with an old friend and fellow artist. Ingrid and I will continue through the Southern Flinders Ranges and Clare Valley to Adelaide. This is where the sisters’ journey will end – but endings are just new beginnings and the story continues.
I will complete the last stage of this Blog when I return to Geelong next week. Till then – stay tuned.