It’s a long way from Sydney to the Flinders Ranges in South Australia – and the route isn’t necessarily direct. However, when we decided to join some friends who live just outside Adelaide on a camping holiday in one of their favourite ø¢â‚¬Ëœhaunts’, the only option was to take our car, a Subaru Forrester.
1st & 2nd May, 2010
We left Sydney at just on five o’clock in the morning, reasoning that we had at least 12 hours of driving to get to Broken Hill, where we planned to stop for the night. I had no time for picture-taking on this day.
We were on the road again at 8.00 am the following morning, heading west again towards Orroroo, where we hoped to meet up with our friends, David and Liz. It being a more leisurely driving day we were able to stop and take photos at some of the little towns we passed through.
Olary and Manna Hill consisted of a hotel, a couple of dwellings and a railway station – and the road ran straight through between the ‘town’ and the railway line across an essentially flat plain.
The Olary Hotel is typical of the buildings that remain as centres to the smaller towns on the Barrier Highway.
The old railway station at Mannahill.
The Indian Pacific approaching Mannahill.
At Manna Hill we caught a glimpse – and a couple of photos – of the Indian Pacific train rushing west-south-west towards Adelaide. The scenery changed gradually from dead flat plains to undulating hills and by Orroroo we were among the typical northern towns.
We met up with David and Liz as planned and proceeded to Hawker, where we had lunch and re-fuelled the vehicles. From there we proceeded to Rawnsley Park, pausing briefly at a roadside lookout to get our first good view of the southern ranges in the Flinders Ranges National Park.
First view of the Flinders Ranges National Park. (A panorama stitched together from four JPEG images taken with the PowerShot G10.)
Our campsite at Rawnsley Park.
On reaching Rawnsley Park, we set up our tents in the 4WD area, well away from other campers.
Everything had been set up within about 45 minutes of sunset so we wandered across the creek and up the hill to photograph the sunset before making dinner.
Sunset Panorama showing the southern face of Wilpena Pound from the Rawnsley Park campsite. (Six JPEG images captured with the EOS 5D Mk II.)
After dinner, we retracted our steps in order to set up the cameras to photograph the moonrise over the Chace Ranges in the east. The night sky was ablaze with stars, thanks to the clarity of the air and the absence of light pollution from large settlements.
Moon rise over the Chace Range to the East of Rawnsley Park.
The night sky at Rawnsley Park. (A 30-second exposure taken with the EOS 5D Mk II at ISO 6400.)
First light over the southern face of Wilpena Pound. Rawnsley Bluff is the highest point on the right side of the range. (A panorama created with nine JPEG images taken with the EOS 5D Mk II.)
The first kilometre or so is a relatively gentle slope, which soon becomes a steep scramble over rocky terrain as you claw your way up to the ridge. There’s a small area where you can pause for a breather about three quarters of the way up at a point known as ‘Lone Pine’. Once at the ridge top you have two choices: to turn right and head for the top of the Bluff or to go straight ahead for a view over Wilpena Pound. We chose the former.
The view across Rawnsley Park from the Lone Pine lookout. (A panorama created with six JPEG images taken with PowerShot G10.)
The path to the summit of the Bluff is a bit of a ‘bush-bash’ in places, while some areas involve a scramble over rocks, many of which are crowned with cairns of rocks left by previous visitors. I’ve never seen so many cairns in such a short distance!
Looking up towards the summit of Rawnsley Bluff from the Lone Pine lookout.
The largest cairn of all was at the end of the track, where there was an excellent view over the countryside, with the Chace Range to the east and the Elder Range to the south. The clear, almost cloudless sky rendered everything into sharp focus and colours were bright and vibrant. However, I had some concerns about the wide brightness range so mad sure I shot raw files with both cameras (the DSLR and the G10).
The view of the Elder Range from the summit of Rawnsley Bluff. (A panorama created with six JPEG images taken with the EOS 5D Mk II.) Crossing contrails from passing jets decorate the sky.
Having taken all the photos we wanted and admired the panorama before us, we retraced our steps to the ridge and took the Wilpena Pound track to a large rock, from which you can see into the Pound itself. Here we had lunch and a welcome rest before returning to the car.
Looking into Wilpena Pound from the Rawnsley Bluff track. (A panorama created with six JPEG images from the EOS 5D Mk II.)
The scramble down the steep slope was quite a challenge but we made it to the car, feeling a little stiff and quite weary. It was dark by the time we got back to the camp site so we had to prepare and eat our meal by the light of the fire, our head torches and a camp light. Needless to say, it was quite an early night.