Exploring Wilpena Pound and the Flinders Ranges

The day was glorious- after a cool night we woke to blue skies and a warm sun.

The visitors centre is at the main building as you drive into the Wilpena Resort. It also houses an IGA which would be so helpful for the many campers.

The area is very sheltered with lots of beautiful trees providing shade during the hot summer months.

The Aboriginal guides at the centre have lots of helpful advice on the many walks and the drives we could take to discover the sights of the area.

With a plan in mind we set off. The resident emus were there to say goodbye as we headed back out to the explorers way.

Map of the area of Wilpena

Our first turn off was to Bunyeroo Gorge. The road was dirt but not too bumpy. Before long the grandeur of the mountain ranges started to appear.

The gorge here is so different to the gorges on the Gibb River. Spectacular, yes, Rocky, yes, but accessible by 4 wheel drive. We drive into Bunyeroo and are immediately surrounded by the ranges. Bunyeroo Gorge is one of the main gorges which runs through the Heysen Range towards Lake Torrens.

As we drive through the gorge the trees are magnificent. The gums are huge. The pine trees line up along the creek and the road.

As we drive through the Gorge the size of the limestone cliffs either side look awesome.

The creeks we cross have large stones and it’s easy to see how high the water level got to the last time the creek flowed.

Continuing on we came to Brachina Gorge which was just as inspiring as the Bunyeroo Gorge. It’s wonderful to see it close up. Not to be scrambling over rocks and boulders!

We passed as few cars and came upon a group of young cyclists from St. Peter’s School in Adelaide. They were doing over 300 km over their 10 days in the area. They were young , enthusiastic and will sleep well at night!

After we left the Gorge area we spotted a vine growing along the road. It’s a Paddy melon which is a poisonous fruit for humans and most animals.

We stopped for a picnic at the curiously named Dingly Dell. It sounds so Irish. There are little picnic tables set up through the Gorge and in the turnoffs to lookouts. So thoughtful!

Nearby we spotted a camper with their washing strung out capturing the lovely sun and breeze. Perfect.

We drove, we pottered, we left the car for little walks and we returned to Wilpena Pound for a walking tour of the historic homestead.

All the tours at Wilpena are conducted by local Adnyamathanha people. Local guide John McKenzie says Adnyamathanya’s made up of two indigenous words: Adnya, meaning rock, and mathanya, meaning people.

Guide John. A great storyteller.

Wilpena Pound itself is an immense horseshoe-shaped feature known locally as Ikara. It was once used by pastoralists as a natural stock pen. Today, it’s the jewel in the crown of this rugged landscape.

Six years ago, the traditional owners of this land acquired Wilpena Pound Resort. 

It allows locals, who’re fiercely proud of their heritage, to share their knowledge of culture and country directly with tourists.

John is good at sharing his heritage with us. Helping us understand what it was like for the local mob when the white pastoralists arrived at the Pound.

They worked for the pastoralists on what had been their land. We toured the remains of the building that made up the farm.

The stone work is so distinctively South Australian.

John told us the story of the creation of Wilpena Pound. it differed somewhat from the geological description offer by scientists but is a Dreamtime story passed down by the local mob.

Long before the coming of white settlers to Wilpena, there was an old Kingfisher Man called Yurlu who lived in the west near Kuyani territory. He journeyed south from his home at Kakarlpunha (Termination Hill) to attend an important Malkada (corroboree) at Ikara (Wilpena Pound). Passing through Brachina Gorge on his way to the ceremony, Yurlu saw two giant serpents (Akurra) travelling in the same direction. The snakes scared him and he hid behind low hills until they passed.

Yurlu stopped to light a big signal fire to inform his people that he was coming. The charcoal of that fire remains today in the form of the massive coal deposits that have been mined for decades at Leigh Creek.

Passing through Brachina Gorge on his way to the ceremony, Yurlu saw two giant serpents travelling in the same direction. The snakes scared him and he hid behind low hills until they passed. The two Akurra (male and female) were so bloated by the feast that they coiled up, and died. They now form the ring of hill surrounding the Pound.

It’s a great story and it’s important these stories are passed down.

After the tour we walked back to the resort or Chalet as it was originally called stopping to admire the trees.

The main resort building with large restaurant.

Another sunset beckoned so we climbed the hill behind the camp ground and were rewarded with a sun streaked sky.

Returning through the camp sites I was rather pleased I wasn’t the camper in the blue one man tent.

Farewell Broome

Our last day in Broome was slow and leisurely. Just the way Beach holidays should be.

I started with an early massage in the beautiful spa.

Then it was coffee and a trip to the beach. The last day called for a beach chair and umbrella. We loved it!

We made ourselves comfortable and enjoyed the ocean breeze and the passing parade of swimmers. Beaches are wonderful people watching places.

Photo from every angle in our comfy chair.

We went to Divers Tavern for lunch I swear that is my last chip for the holidays. Why, oh why, does everything come with chips?

Chip Tactics…….1. I try not to eat them at all or 2. try to just have six, or 3. ask to have salad on the side instead……. Today I tried this tactic but my unsmiling service man said ‘ no changes to the menu’. So I went to tactic 2 ! Also, why are chips so yummy?

Our last afternoon was spent pottering around our hotel, a last swim, packing and our last sunset drink. Apparently it’s cold and rainy in Perth where we fly tomorrow.

Farewell Broome, it’s been great.

Cable Beach Club Resort

I’m getting behind in my blogging do this will be a picture diary of our day.

Up early for a swim
Umbrellas are set up on the water’s edge
Nippers is on. Big crowd
Shoes at the bottom of the stairs.
Courthouse Markets. Slowest coffee in the world!
Buying a book for our grandsons
The Museum tells the Broome stories
Sailmaking shed at the museum
Lunch at the Green Mango
Japanese Cemetery. So many lost their lives diving for pearls.
Our room at the Cable Beach Resort
Walking to the adults only pool
Loving this pool
Even better with a cocktail in hand
Sunset at Cable Beach
Happy at Zander’s restaurant on the beach

Glamping at Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge

Sleeping under canvas is a great experience especially when it’s glamping and everything is set up.

Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge is an hour off the GRR. Lots of creeks to cross as we bump along. Chris prefers to drive as it helps his back to be holding onto the string wheel. At least that’s what he tells us!

Steve sits as co driver and sometimes in the afternoon sleeps on the job.

Breakfast was in the screened dinner area. Very rustic. Cereals and toast. No big fry up!

The chef had prepared a picnic lunch for us to take to Bells Gorge.

Back along the bumpy one hour drive turn back toward Mt Leopold Range. Half an hour later we turn left and head towards Bells Gorge. We pass Silent Grove and keep going.

The car park at Bells is full of dusty 4 wheel drives, vans, small tour buses. One caught our attention yesterday Manning River. It’s a big duel cab full of gear, a motorbike , a generator, various bits of equipment & it’s decorated with finger drawings in the dust. Very carefully done. Today the van is missing. Must be in the caravan park.

We start the track and it didn’t take long to get rocky. We’ve talked to other travelers about Bells. It sounds wonderful but it is described as tricky to get into.

We walked for about 2km into the gorge over rocks with about three water crossings. Little stepping stones across small creeks. We arrive at a series of ponds all swirling towards a ledge which becomes the waterfall. Stunning.

We walk across the sloping rock shelf up the side towards the top to look down on the water fall.

Decision time. Continue on over the pond up a steep set of rocks then over the top and down down down to the sloping rocks leading to the water.

I decided I would risk a slip and damage my arm – recovering from a bad break last Dec. I couldn’t go back to an arm in a sling.

So the others pressed on and I got into the pool closest to the edge if the waterfall. Careful not to go over the edge!

They took it slowly and arrived safely and we waved and took photos and I watched as they swam in the big pool of water towards the waterfall.

Steve, Jill & Chris in the lower pool

I know they were having fun. But so was I, pottering in the pools and watching people crossing over, slipping, helping each other and those returning from the bottom of the falls.

A satisfying afternoon. The others arrived back full of smiles and we walked back through the rocks to the top.

We sat under the trees eating our picnic lunch before heading back to the lodge two hours away.

Washing on, showers, bed rest and finally the bar opened. We were very dry and ready for a game of cards before dinner.

The gong called us and tonight the dinner was chicken and sticky date pudding. Beautifully presented and so tasty. We met the chef. He used to cook for miners but has been here at Mt Hart for seven years. It’s a feature for this place. I hope he stays on.

Yum. Steve’s sticky date pudding.

Our canvas tent called and we headed to bed. It’s slightly cooler tonight so sleeping will be easy.

And it was!

A Long and Dusty Road: the Gibb River

The morning was still and quiet. The horse riders had left for their jog through the countryside as we were having tea and planning our day.

Today we continue along the road everyone talks about. We’ve heard about the corrugations, the dust, the river crossing.

I think the our drivers Leyland Brothers are excited to get going

We leave and immediately get stuck behind a bus. Oh no more dust. But at the end of the 16 km into El Questro he turned right towards Kunanurra and we turned left towards Derby.

Todays drive us about 5 hours. Not that the distance is great. It’s the dusty bumpy road!

We planned a stop at Ellenbrae Station. The people here have cleverly put on a Devonshire Tea. Yes …….scones, jam and cream on the Gibb River Rd.

The turn off to their property is 5km. Yes 5km of anticipation along a very rough rough road. But then. There it is.

A green oasis is surrounded by red dusty grassy scrub.

The sign welcomes us and we make our way to the shed / cafe open to the lush green gardens scattered with tables and chairs under the trees.

There is plenty to look at as we wait for our Devonshire tea.

We’d love our grandsons here with us on this trip. So many things to do. Crocodile huntings, swimming in gorges, fishing, sandpits, rocks, machinery! Boy heaven.

We bumped along the GRR for another hour or two. Dust, mud holes, river crossings.

The Pentecost River was rocky and the tide was down. The Durack River was small and rocky.

The road into our overnight stay at Mt Elizabeth was both surprising and fun.

Our ensuite cabin was actually old miners donga’s now fitted with air con! Small and stuffy when we entered the aircon went in so we headed to the lush garden to enjoy the last of the afternoon We stayed there while drama unfolded. Jill wanted wifi internet. Not possible unless you pay. That still didn’t work so as Jill claimed she had something she needed to do had been so nice to the hostess Chantelle she whispered’ you can use the owner’s internet but don’t tell anyone and only for a few minutes!’

As it turned out it was lucky. We had an urgent email from our travel agent. Our Horizontal Falls trip and overnight stay on the houseboat is cancelled! There was a bad jet boat accident about a week ago. All trips were cancelled until 10. We were to go on the 11th but now it’s been put off until further We have been offered an extra night in Broome and flight up to Cape Leveque with a visit to the Pearl farm for lunch and a flight over the falls. We’ve taken that but we’re sad as we miss the night on the boat. We didn’t really mind missing the jet boat.

With drama over it’s time for a drink. Lucky we brought some as there is no alcohol on sale here. Time for dinner. It’s a shared table which gave us a chance to meet other travellers. Always a good idea as you meet some interesting people and get some great tips.

Next to us were two men marine engineers from Perth. They had worked in many interesting places overseas. They were on a big trip from aperture across the Nullarbor and then straight up the centre of Australia

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Dinner was prepared by Patrice. Home style cooking. A big rissole with a green pepper sauce and a bowl of veggies. Delicious. First night I haven’t had fish. Dessert as well. Cream caramel. Needless to say the new managers of Mt Elizabeth Station are former restaurant owners. They are busy preparing the rooms. There are 8 with ensuite and the same with shared bathrooms. The rest is camping.

We went back to our donga to find a frog in the toilet, and the aircon didn’t work. Lucky there was a large window with screens as it would have been too cold with air con on in this small bedroom!

We were initially disappointed but it was clean, friendly with a good meal provided. A fine overnight stay on the Gibb RR. But not a place with waterholes and great walks.

Magical Lake Argyle

Today we had an easy drive of about 80km to Lake Argyle. If you are planning on coming to Kunanurra you must plan a night or two at this beautiful relaxed place. There’s a big campground and a number of cabins. We’re in a cabin. It’s modern well equipped and views to the lake.

https://www.lakeargyle.com

There’s a beautiful infinity pool, restaurant bar and lots of lawn and picnic areas.

We arrived in time to do the Ord River Bush Tucker morning tea with Josh, a former New Zealander. He greeted us and we headed off in his orange safari van. We made about four stops and each time Josh pointed out some of the plant life. First up was the pink Turkey bush we saw at Litchfield. A natural repellent it smells lovely when crushed and rubbed on. Throw a bush on your campfire and you have no mosquitoes.

He then pulled up a piece of spinufex grass and rubbed in the roots. It was so sticky. The aboriginal people used it as a glue. Now it can be used in making condoms. Hygienic and environmentally friendly. Not sure how it would feel!

The brightly coloured yellow flower of the kapok trees has caught my attention. Turns out it’s an edible flower a bit like butter lettuce & so perfect in salads. It also is a great indicator of the life cycle of the fresh water crocodile. When it flowers the soft fluffy kapok can be plucked off. Used in pillows and stuffed in blankets perfect for use by Aboriginal people and the early settlers.

Kapok flowers

The Boab tree is very eye catching up here. It’s different to the bottle tree. The boab is native to Madagascar but found its way to the northern part of Australia. Found between Broome and Timber Creek it has a very hard nut & when broken open has a yellow spongy fruit than can be eaten. A little bit of orange sherbet flavour but spongy. Like styrofoam Josh told us. He was right.

Last stop was the bower birds bachelor pad. So cute. He knows how to attract the ladies. He has all silver, white and green things in his nest. So attractive!

By now we were ready for morning tea! Delivered by his mother we found it set up in a little park. Made with local ingredients – it was delicious. We hadn’t had breakfast so were ready for it.

Delicious morning tea.
The coffee cups done by an Alice Springs Artist

Back to the resort and ready for a swim. What a pool. It makes you feel like a movie star!

The swimmers!

A little sit on the verandah of our cabin looking at the view before heading off at 2pm for a cruise which would last until sunset!

Cameron our skipper took us over about 20% of the total area of the lake. It’s that big. We were in the boat for 3.5 hrs! and didn’t nearly cover it all.

We saw a few wallabies. But I was hanging out for the star of the show. The freshwater crocodile. Or freshies as they are called. With 30,000 in the lake surely we’d see one up close.

Cameron showing the lake and giving us the history.

We weren’t disappointed. We saw several freshies. Sunning themselves! Looking very relaxed. Not at all menacing.

One freshie came up close. We fed bread to some spotted archer fish. Or spitting fish. They spit on their prey. We explored the lake. and as the sun was getting ready to set we stopped……. got into the water and had some fun. We swam, bobbed on noodles and watched as the scarlet sun disappeared. Topped off with a glass of bubbles!

It’s so good to share this experience with friends. It was wonderful.

We reboarded the boat and watched the last of the sun.

Such a great sky.

Couldn’t resist a smooch!

We motored back to the dock in the dark. We were all on a high.

When we got back to the resort we passed some very happy fishermen. They’d had a successful fishing trip. They offered us some silver cobbler fish to cook but we headed to the very lovely casual beer garden and had a BBQ.

A game of 500 completed a beautiful day.

Good Morning Darwin

Our day had a alarming start to it. At 5am there was a loud beeping noise. Awaking suddenly I thought we had a bird in the room!

No it wasn’t………. it was the fire alarm outside our bedroom. We all came stumbling out half asleep to both alarms beeping loudly. And this was meant to be our sleep in day after two early touring days.

No fire. So we quickly rang reception. “Send help we called.” Jill appeared with a broom and Steve thought she was going to do a little sweeping. No, it was to push the off button.

It took at least half an hour of ear piercing alarm before the maintenance man arrived and removed the battery !

After a cup of tea we headed back to bed for another 2 hours sleep.

A little treat this morning. A lovely walk back to the waterfront precinct where we had dinner last night. This area really has added a lot of life to Darwin.

There are gardens with lovely seating and lounges, restaurants, a wave pool, a protected swimming area, a very long jetty out to the Royal Flying Doctors, and new apartments.

The swimming area
The wave pool
Looking toward the long jetty with the RFD

We enjoyed brunch and a little people watching before continuing our walk out to Mr Barra for prawns for dinner.

We decided on a quieter day. The Wilsons have been out touring Kakadu and are ready for a ‘down’ day.

We got very hot walking so headed to the pool for a swim and another walk up to Mitchell Street and to seek out some street art.

We finished the afternoon on our verandah having a few cool glasses of Prosecco and beer and playing cards! Great fun

Let’s hope we don’t have the alarm go off again tonight!

Adelaide you are THE Festival City

Last year was my first Adelaide Writer’s Week, Fringe and Festival visit.

It was so good I came back this year – and brought friends for Writer’s Week if you read my earlier blogs you’ll know how much we enjoyed that week.

This week is I’m spending time with the family. My niece Vashti is a musician but isn’t in any festival shows this year, unfortunately. But we’ve been to a few great shows.

Last week we saw a band playing Blues & Soul , for women comedians and a very funny choir.

This week we went up to the Adelaide Hills to Ukaria. This cultural Centre is purpose built for chamber music.

Beautiful Indigenous artwork at Ukaria.

Today we went to a play called Blindness.

It was a very different experience.

Based on Nobel Prize-winner José Saramago’s dystopian novel Blindness, England’s Juliet Stevenson’s gripping narration unfolds around you through headphones handed out on arrival.

The theatre goes dark, the seats are grouped in twos around a large warehouse space. The story is about a city facing an epidemic of blindness. Those affected are moved to a disused asylum. The city panics.

There are strobe lights that flash occasionally, surround sound so you feel like someone is whispering in your ear.

I listened mostly with my eyes closed!

The end is hopeful – but what an experience.

Later tonight. In fact st 8.30 we went back to the city for a cabaret jazz show.

In 1956, acclaimed jazz vocalist Ella Fitzerald did a season at Zardi’s Jazzland in Los Angeles. Tonight sublime jazz singer Louise Messenger and her band recreated the show at Zardis.

Louise Messenger

What a great night. This Festival is great. It’s well supported by locals. It’s struggled a little during covid probably more with this years very contagious omicron. Some shows cancelled during to the performer catching it.

But the show goes on.

I can recommend visiting Adelaide during this time. There is so much on at such a variety of venues. It never feeling over crowded.

Last Writers to Last Laughs

We are rather enjoying our walk to the Pioneer Women’s Gardens. We walk down Melbourne St past the Lion Hotel then across some parklands to the pedestrian bridge and along past the Uni.

A lovely flat walk that I will miss. Unfortunately Lindy left her phone at home so had to retrace her steps! I’m fancy by the end other day she has walked 18,000 steps! She definitely deserved her ice cream treat this afternoon.

While Lindy walked back we started the first session. It was a look at Charmian Clift. I’ve been very interested in Charmian and her husband George Johnson since I visited Hydra island in Greece.

They were Authors – Australian , which ended up living on Hydra during the 70’s at a time when it was a place where creative bohemian types lived there. A young Leonard Cohen spent many summers there writing poetry.

Anthony Doerr author of All the Light We Cannot See talked about his new book Cloud Cuckoo Land in which he writes an imagined novel written by historical author Diogenes for his recuperating niece.

Doerr had us eating out of his hand. Such a great person. So engaging. He talked about his writing, his family and how life is here to be enjoyed. We shouldn’t sleep walk through it. And that we will never be as young as we are today!

Next up was Shelia Fitzpatrick

She is a leading historian on Russian history. She is one very knowledgeable lady who is able to explain things very succinctly. So if you want a book The Shortest History of the Soviet Union, is a lively, authoritative distillation of seventy-five years of communist rule and the collapse of an empire, and an examination of Russia’s ongoing influence on global politics under its current president.

Had a quick listen to Hannah Kent talking about her book Devotion. A change of pace for her.

Highlight was the duo of crime writers. Christen White and JP Polmare. Crime writing, Australian style. Young, sharp and engaging. These two are the ‘almost’ newcomers to the crime writing scene.

You have to check out their books. there are quite a few of them.

Christian wrote Clickbait for TV. You may have seen it ? Clever writer. Christian’s wife proof reads and advises him. Josh’s mother in law proof reads his! I was going to offer but it seems they have proof reading covered.

My sister in law had met up with us and I drove her home before heading off to the Fringe again

A great comedy show with four women comedians. Not Lizzy Hoo unfortunately! We missed her but had Mel Buttle, Claire Hooper, Nikki Britton and Zoe Coombes.

A good laugh to a small audience. I think covid is making a bigger impact this year. Shows are being cancelled with performers getting it.

I’m moving to my sister in law’s tomorrow so I’ll have to be careful around her teenage grandchildren. They have lots of friends at school catching it!!!

To my friends : Jill, Lindy and Ros – farewell and thank you for coming along to the Writers’ festival. I talked you into coming and I think we all loved it

Eating, Drinking Adelaide Day 5

Today a day off the Writers’ Festival.

Not because we’re not loving it – we are. But we want to be tourists as well.

The David Roche House & Museum is a favourite of mine. Located in Melbourne Street not far from our Airbnb we decided on a tour of the house then a visit to o the museum.

Arriving right at 10 we were disappointed to hear that the tour was full.

So we regrouped and went into the museum. It was a collection of fashions by designers who were up and coming in the 70’s then died of an AIDS related illness.

Some great fashions by well known designers Halston, Moschino. A great exhibition.

https://www.rochefoundation.com.au

Like any tourist we decided to get the free bus. It’s a great service that travels quite some distance around the city in a clockwise and anticlockwise direction.

Next stop the wonderful Adelaide Markets. If you visit Adelaide these markets are a must. We explored each aisle. Coffee and a pastry called so a visit to Skala

Gorgeous lady with her Turkish Delight

We stopped for lunch at a delightful Colombian restaurant. The waitress was just gorgeous and before we knew it we had a Pisco sour in our hands and we were ordering some tapas.

A great lunch. We just wish we were here Friday night for their live music with dancing.

Back home on the free bus with a few bags with fruit ‘ vegetables as well as a gorgeous frittata – in case we get hungry!

Oh and a lovely bottle of Pinot Noir.