Gawler Ranges National Park

Gawler Ranges – Home of the inquisitive Emus

Passing through Kimba I visit the Edward John Eyre Sculptures.

Gawler Ranges National Park was a pleasant surprise on my drive in. There was actually green grass and water around. A stark change from the Flinders, bearing in mind that the Gawler Ranges are much further south closer to the coast, so rains are more likely. And that’s just what it did for 3 days with a small thunderstorm passing through on my second night. The Paney Homestead was a former sheep property, now the Parks HQ. Not much to see but yet another shearing shed.

The tracks out here are a deep red clay with rock, becoming slippery. I decided to stay at camp at Kolay campground for a few days. When I showed up the creek was bone dry, by the second day of rain clear water was flowing freely, offering me a chance to have a quick splash to freshen up.

Close by were the Kolay Mirica Falls.

Continuing on at one point I had a deep water filled mud hole in front of me. I slowed down, engaged my centre diff lock then forged my way through. Half way in my rear end begins sliding around, I’m directed off the track and I complete a 180 degree spin. I felt like I was going to tip over mid spin though thankfully my low centre of gravity kept me upright. Lucky I was only going around 30-40 kph. Any faster and I probably would have rolled. I spun my steering wheel around and got moving again heading to Old Paney homestead. This is currently undergoing renovations to preserve the building.

On my way to Pondanna Outstation I came across a large flock of Emus. I’d seen dozens already in the park, but this lot didn’t run too far away. I shut off my engine, stepped out and used and old trick I learnt from some fella at some point somewhere in my life but can’t remember who. Squatting down on the ground I began to wave my hat up and down from the ground. You should have seen the emu’s race over from 100 metres away. I got scared thinking I was going to be trampled and quickly dashed several metres back closer to my car and repeated my hat waving. Their inquisitive nature brought them within meters of me.

The Pondanna Outstation has been revamped and is available for hire as accommodation with power, gas and water. The surrounding machinery shows the technology this area was farmed with. The station grew hay and cereal to feed the working horses and camels of the surround stations.

The Organ Pipes were the last feature to see. A gravel road led me through private property a short way then back into the park. The organ piping was similar to that I saw at Mount Kaputar NP in NSW, but nowhere near as impressive. A good drive exploring the park though.

Leaving the Gawler Ranges I take a few tracks towards the Pildappa Rock, also known locally as Wave Rock. Basically it’s a huge freakin’ granite rock towering above the surrounding grain fields. On top of the rock are various water pools filled with tadpoles.

On to Ceduna.

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Brett is a film maker, hiker, adventurer and Defender owner. He loves the outdoors and feels most at home travelling remote outback places in Australia. The idea of waiting till retirement to begin exploring Australia is not the path Brett has chosen, instead choosing to live life now. Join him on his adventures.

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