Although we had seen signs warnings us of Kangaroos we had not seen one yet but as soon as we turned off the main road to head to Wilpena Pound Resort (a fancy name for an excellent motel that was trying to be more than it should) we saw Emus and Kangaroos. There is something to be said about being in a place where wild animals still roam free and along side humans. Outside the reception area there
was a place where many Kangaroos had gathered and many of the guests were taking pictures. We arri
ved just in time to see the General Store and the Visitors Center close. Why does everything in Australia close so early? We booked a scenic flight over the area at the reception for early next morning. We choose the 30 minute flight that took us around the Wilpena Pound as well as the Elder Range, Edeowie Gorge, Heysen Range, Lake Torrens (no water, only salt), Bunyeroo Gorge, Brachina Gorge, St Mary Peak and the Pound Gap.
Woke up early, we had to get Ben out of bed at 7am but he took like a champ. The airstrip was only a couple k’s away, of course like most airstrips around here it was not
sealed, there were a few Cessnas parked but no one to be seen but a few kangaroos crossing the landing strip. That raised a eyebrow, how do you swerve around a kangaroo when you go full throttle ready to take off? It was not long before the plane, a Cessna 182 landed and a young pilot, Hayden flashed us a sm
ile and welcomed us in the plane with just four seats. I asked him about the kangaroos, in the typical nonchalant aussie tone he told me not to worry. Those of you who know me know that I have flown many times but flying in this little plane was a new experience. It was a pleasant short flight with spectacular views an amazing landscape. A landscape that formed millions of years ago, an ancient landscape that is unlike any other. A landscape that was hidden away to anyone outside the aborigines, until the late 1800s.
When we landed half an hour later the temperature had risen considerably, the swings in temperature is amazing. We had seen the area from above and realized that we needed a 4WD in order to see some of the spectacular gorges so we inquired at the visitor’s center. They told us to head up to Blinman and ask at the hotel. We also decided to postpone the hike into the pound for the next morning, by the time we would have reached the Wangara Lookout it would be mid-day and that is too hot for walking and too sunny to take good pictures. We then spend the next few hours lounging around the hotel, we had coffee and I finally had a Punch Punch! It had been a long time since I had a good cigar like that; Ben had his mid-day nap and sometime in the
afternoon we drove north to Blinman. Blinman is about 60km north of Wilpena Pound and it is the highest town in South Australia, in the 1850s they found copper in the area. You can check a 360 picture of the main street here. We wanted to check the general store, despite the fact that it was still 4pm, the store had closed as business was slow on that particular day. We decided to head for the hotel and see about that 4WD. The hotel was really nice and the coffee was really good. Unfortunately, a rainstorm caught up with us and it was a bad one. We were advised to head back to the hotel quickly as flash floods would cut off our way south. True enough when we reached our hotel we were told that there were people stuck in Blinman, the extend of the flash floods only became apparent on our way back to Adelaide a couple days later. On our way back we stopped at some locations and took pictures on some lookouts. I was lucky
enough to get a nice picture of the storm that was brewing over Blinman that I posted on my last posting. By the time we returned to the hotel rain had caught up with us again. There was not much to do but go to the bar have a beer and meet the many Germans and French that seemingly were the only nationalities present. It is interesting but we have met so many people from Europe travelling in Australia. I guess there are so many interesting things to see and down under.
Early in the morning we got ready and after checking with the visitors center about the weather and the general condition, it was still cloudy and wet, we headed into the direction of the Pound. The first 3.3 km would take us through a very easy walking trail, the last 600 meters would be a steep walk up to an altitude of 900m to the two Wangara Lookouts. The view from the Lookouts was breathtaking. Throughout the walk we met again many Germans, if anything had gone wrong we would have been ok as we speak
their language. One thing that we were warned about were the flies and we got our first encounter during the walk, we have never seen so many flies. They tell us that it will get worse when we travel to the red center, so we have bought fly nets for us, we are not sure yet what we can do for Ben as he did not like the net. We did the walk in 2 1/2 hours by the time we were back the temperature had risen
considerably, so we headed back to the air conditioned room. In the afternoon we drove around on sealed roads as we did are not allowed to take our hired car on non paved road. We went and took pictures of the Cazneaux tree, named after the famous Australian photographer who immortalized it in 1937 with his
depiction of it called “The Spirit of Endurance”. These gum trees are magnificent, they were here long before we were born and they will outlive all of us. Here looking at the Cazneaux tree with the Pound in the background one realizes the land itself is ancient, the formations that we saw were hundreds of millions old. The country we know as Australia maybe really fresh but its land is far from it.
The next morning we packed and left the resort early, Ben had some tummy problems and we rushed as fast as we could towards home in Adelaide. Rushing is only a figure of speech as the highway here is
limited to 110kmh and it is for the most part a one lane highway! What also surprised me is that the highway is not dotted with rest/service areas as we know them in Europe or the US. We found some gas stations every 60km or so and the occasional hotel -hotels in Australia are usually the pubs, not necessary a hotel as I understand it. Funny is that this was the stretch of highway in the more densely populated part of SA between Port Augusta and Adelaide. What will we encounter next week when we drive back the same highway past Port Augusta towards Cooper Pedy and Uluru? Well, we will take lots of water with us and probably some extra diesel just to be safe.
One of the things that has surprised me here in Australia is the lack of education about conserving water and how cheap water is. This is after all the driest continent and country in the world and SA is the driest state in this country, nevertheless people use too much water of which more than 60% is used to water gardens and plants that have no place in this country to begin with. The cost of water is about 1/4 of the cost we have in Germany! No wonder people let the water running when brushing their teeth or shaving! There is something to be said about how conscious we are in Germany about this matter despite abundant water, we have learned to conserve and leave for the most part more efficient -high cost and taxation do work after all.
In the past few days we have been going places around Adelaide, will post fresh pictures and a new post soon.