It was getting hot in the Flinders Ranges and the prediction was that it was going to hit 40 celsius.
I couldn’t wait to get on my way south through the Clare Vand the Adelaide Hills and down to the Fleurieu Peninsula (http://fleurieupeninsula.com.au/) where the cool breezes off the southern ocean keeps the temperatures down.
There was an overnight stop at the Barbed Wire Pub at Spalding just north of Clare then through to Port Elliot where the over 100 year old Port Elliot Beach House is totally friendly and cheap.
The night at the beach was good to do some shopping. The Fleurieu Peninsula is so fertile and with 100 ks there are all types of foods. Yoghurts from the local dairy farms, dried grapes and wines from McLaren Vale and Langhorn Creek, fresh fish from the sea and lakes and tomatoes and over vegetables from Murray Bridge. All local and fresh.
The aim was to stock up them camp in one of the beautiful coastal parks that are just of the road to Cape Jervis.
The road from Victor Harbour to Cape Jervis is listed in the top 100 rides in Australia and is a pearler, with optional detours down gravel (oh no not again) roads to beaches at the number of conservation parks along the coast.
As a 40 degree day (in October!) approached I slipped down one of those gravel roads to find a camp spot just over the dunes from the beach.
With some camp spot friends.
A beautiful place to camp on a very hot day and to bring my trip to South Australia to and end as the next day I headed back home.
I had fled south from the Flinders Ranges as the temperature had hit 38 degree Celsius at Hawker by noon. It was hot ride and finding the pub at Spalding serving cold, and good food with comfortable rooms. It was serendipity.
Then there was the barbed wire museum
A somewhat different collection that you wouldn’t want to get tangled in!!!
A day and night at Blinman gave me the opportunity to explore some of the sights in around this part of the Ranges. The TV in the pub was coming from the Alice and there was absolutely no mobile phone, this combined with the end of bitumen and the next stop being Coober Pedy – Blinman gave a real sense of being on the edge of the outback. But the marinated lamb and feta cheese pizzas were a fantastic find and unexpected!
My Moto Guzzi is a road bike but I am a bit of a foolhardy piecemeal adventurer and I do take it off road onto the dirt and gravel. It stretches my comfort zone but it means I get to some beautiful places like Parachilna and Brachina gorges in the northern Flinders Ranges.
The roads in Parachilna Gorge were good quality and not too taxing and the little road side huts provided shade and water as the sun rose and the day heated up.
Brachina Gorge was far more technical and I bogged the bike at a water crossing. The futility of me pulling a 250kg motorbike out of the bog soon became apparent so I sat and waited for a vehicle to come along. Luckily, a four wheel drive truck soon arrived and the guys on board gave me a hand to pull the bike out.
Out of the bog the proven foolhardy piecemeal adventurer was soon on his way again
St Mary’s Peak is the highest peak in the Flinders Ranges, and while I class myself as pretty fit, I’m not a great bush walker and certainly not a mountain climber. So it was with a bit of trepidation, a couple of litres of water, some snacks and much enthusiasm I headed off on the hike.
The climb up to the peak was steep and rough. It is a scramble in places and I was glad I had water and snacks on a warm spring day.
The view from the top was worth it. Apart from taking a flight there is no other way to take in the vastness of the Flinders Ranges.
The walk back into the WiIpena Pound down the less steep side of the peak was far less dramatic and easy on my tired legs. It wound back through Wilpena Pound letting me appreciate the beautiful bush.
Where the return trail met the outgoing track I stopped to read the sign
Yes its hard but do-able, even for an old piecemealadventurer like me.
It had been a good fast ride from Adelaide through to the Flinders ranges and as the sun set I sat outside my tent, with a coupe of beers, at the Rawnsley Park Station and took in the grandeur and changing colours as the sun sank lower over my shoulder.
I had been looking forward to the ride up through Horrocks Pass, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfIG664cMtI) a road of fast sweepers that climb into the Southern Flinders Ranges. I had flown down the pass some 38 years earlier on a Norton Commando and in preparing for the trip had fantasised about a “super comparo” – Norton Commando Vs Moto Guzzi Breva; Michelin Pilot Road 4s Vs Dunlop K81s; Brembo Brakes Vs the trusty Lockheed – pff no comparison.
But the road is a great ride as the Ranges start to reveal themselves as you climb riding through the curves on a fast smooth road with no traffic heading for the outback from the sea.
I was young, just 20, and heading off to ride around Australia (a trip of many unmade dirt roads then). It was one of my first adventures and in some ways set the pattern for the rest of my life. I had ridden across from Melbourne to Wilmington (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilmington,_South_Australia) and at the cross road I turned left down to Port Augusta and the crossing of the Nullabor Plain om my path west.
I had promised myself to come back to the Flinders Ranges, to once again ride Horrocks Pass – and here I was.
I stopped at 42 Mile Crossing and tried the march across the dunes in riding leathers – a bloody stupid idea. The wind was gusty but down in the dunes it was hot and windless and I was soon working up a sweat under the leathers and wondering the wisdom of the short hike. The sight of the ocean was met by a mouth full of sand flung by the wild wind and I beat retreat back to the bike parked on the other side of the dunes. The camp site at 42 Mile Crossing was open and exposed to the wind, and just in time the ranger arrived and suggested I camp further up the Coorong at Salt Creek where the scrub gives protection for the camper.
The scrub provided a perfect site for a camping out of the wind which was appreciated by me and the mosquitoes that sheltered in amongst the tea tree and attacked me as a struggled with the tent. Salt Creek is about the half way point of the Coorong and a short walk from the camp site gives a beautiful view of the Coorong lakes.
That night I slept between the highway and the lakes, the surf pounding hard in the distance. The wind was gusting overhead punctuated by the occasional squally shower. The roar of the surf was constant and in some way comforting – drowning out the buzz of the mosquitoes attacking the tent net in an attempt to get to my blood. During the night I noticed how the noise of a truck engine in the distance can hardly be distinguished from the roar of the surf. On pulling out in the morning I noticed a dead kangaroo on the side of the road and hoped he was lost in contemplation of the sound of the surf and didn’t realise it was a truck till it was all over.