Desert gives way to Rainforest in the Bunya Mountains

Desert gives way to Rainforest in the Bunya Mountains

The Bunya Mountains are west of Brisbane in Australia’s Great Dividing Range and house the world’s largest Bunya Pine forest.

The Bunya Pine is one of the few plants surviving from the Jurassic period -200 million years ago these magnificent trees developed and the Bunya Mountains is the place on the planet where they are still prolific.

What a place to camp for my last nights before reaching my destination.

I love the Bunya’s droopy branches and leaves.

To me they resemble giant rastas with their shaggy dreadlocks towering above the forest.

Walking in this beautiful cool rainforest wa such a contrast to the hot dry heat of the central Australia.

Walking amongst the trees

Walking through the trees.

Gardens on the ground

And in the trees in the shape of ferns and moss on the trees.

The gentle wallabies are in the camp grounds and on the trails.

At the northern end of the range at Mt Kiangarow, the forest is drier and grass trees prolific.

The view from Mt Kiangarow magnificent

By day

And at sunset.

That is just over 10,000km completed since I left Melbourne on 1 March 2021

What a ride:

Along the Great Ocean Road

Through the Coorong

Into the Flinders Ranges

Up the Oodnadatta Track

Immersed in the Red Centre

Across outback the Northern Territory and Queensland

Climb into the Bunya Mountains.

And now it’s the wedding on Saturday and I made it on time.

Central Australia Adventure 12 – Uluru and Kata Tjuta

Central Australia Adventure 12 – Uluru and Kata Tjuta

The Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park in many ways the centre of Australia

Uluru the largest monolith in the world.

Constantly changing colour and tone as the light hits it.

To see it shine red during sunset it amazing

To see it at sunset with the March full moon rising on the equinox truly spiritual.

The walk around the base of Uluru is approximately 10.5 km.

Uluru is a sacred place for Aboriginal Australians and being close to it one feels the sacred power of the rock that is ever changing in colour and mood.

Each crevice, crack, cave and stain tell part of an Aboriginal dreamtime story.

Stories often told in drawing in the rock caves.

Kata Tjuta is approximately 40 km from Uluru. A series of sandstone rocks through which valleys wind.

The Valley of the Winds walk is an approximately 7km walk through the rock outcrops

As I sit in a hotel room in Longreach, Queensland, reflecting on the two weeks spent immersed in the Red Centre a shiver still goes down my spine.

It took me almost a lifetime to get here but I may yet be back.

Central Australia Adventure 11 – Watarrka or Kings Canyon

Central Australia Adventure 11 – Watarrka or Kings Canyon

There are two ways to travel between Alice Springs and Kings Canyon. The long way down the Stuart Highway or the short rough way on the dirt Mereenie loop road.

Road both but only the loop road was worth a picture!

Mereenie Sandstone formed in Central Australia about 400 million years ago.

By the size of the corrugations on the loop road that was the last time the road was graded!

The loop road leads directly to Watarrka National Park which includes Kings Canyon

The Rim Walk is a spectacular walk of around 8 km around the rim and into Kings Canyon

The views looking out from and across the top of the Canyon rim are amazing

Looking into the Canyon one can only marvel at the power of nature to cut so precisely the ancient sandstone with only water and wind as tools.

And when walking down into the Canyon floor

Where water flows and plants flourish there is a beautiful cool calmness silent away from the heat of the Rim.

Kings Canyon is one of the major destinations in Central Australia. I think you can see why.

Central Australia Adventure 10 – West MacDonnell Ranges/Tjoritja

Central Australia Adventure 10 – West MacDonnell Ranges/Tjoritja

To ride through the West MacDonnell Ranges is to travel in a landscape created before time began

Mountains and rivers formed over 300 million years ago.

What an experience to camp beside and swim in the oldest river in the world.

The Finke or Larapinta River.

Ormiston Gorge at sunrise is a spectacular site from the Ghost Gum Lookout

The colours changing on the red rocks as the sun rose

The recent rains had filled the gorge with flowing water

So much water that on the Ormiston Gorge Pound Walk at one crossing it was strip off and carry packs high across the creek

But from this small inconvenience was worth it as the views from the walk were just beautiful

Ocre is prized by Aboriginal Australians for a range of purposes but primarily rock and body painting.

The Ocre pits here have provided this precious colouring for millennia

Gaps and chasms fill the length of the ranges.

Some of the creeks that run through then provide big swimming holes.

Like the Ellery Creek Big Hole

Or are a trickle that over the millennia have carved a chasm.

Tjoritja is vast and I visited only half of its amazing gorges. Maybe another visit is required

Central Australia Adventure 9 – the red/green centre – East MacDonnell Ranges

Central Australia Adventure 9 – the red/green centre – East MacDonnell Ranges

For the last couple of weeks I have been  immersed in the Red Centre of Australia.

Literally immersed as the rivers, creeks and waterholes in the MacDonnell Ranges are brimming after recent rains

The MacDonnell Ranges flank Alice Springs to the east and the west.

A line of rolling mountains, as old as time itself,
Punctuated by, gorges, gaps, passes and chasms


Red and ocre rock forged into mountains by rain wind and salt over the millennia.

This journey of discovery of the Red Centre starts and finishes in these ranges so let’s start the story in the east MacDonnell Ranges.

To the east the ranges run out to the Trephina Gorge Nature Reserve.
Emily and Jessie Gaps/ Yeperenye are only a short 22km ride east of Alice Springs.


These sites have important cultural rock paintings that tell the dreamtime stories of the local Central Arrernte people.

Their dreamtime stories are represented in rock paintings at these sites. People are requested not to photograph them. So you will have to go and see them yourselves.

Corrobaree Rock was formed hundreds of millions of years ago

When central Australia was covered by sea and sand and salt formed a motar to bind these rocks into a new form.

The ghost gum is such a symbol of central Australia and this one at the entrance to Trephina Gorge is over 300 years old.

Trephina Gorge really was a perfect first taste of the magnificent canyons and gorges that were to come.

As an addendum for those following my actual where about. I left Alice Springs yesterday and now on the way to Queensland. The next few posts will be reflections on the Red Centre.

Central Australian Adventure 6 – onto the Oodnadatta Track

Central Australian Adventure 6 – onto the Oodnadatta Track

It was a beautiful dawn in the Northern Flinders Ranges.

There was a mixture of excitement and nerves as I headed north to Marree and the start of the Oodnadatta Track

Marree is an historic town and a major Old Ghan Railway.

The name The Ghan was derived from the Afghan camel handlers who were instrumental in opening up the centre of Australia to European settlement and in building the railway.

This historic mosque is a remnant of the Afghan presence.

The southern part of the Track is straight and fairly well sealed with quirky sideshows along the way.

It also skirts Southern Lake Eyre.

Coward Springs sits amongst provides a sheltered camping space amongst date palms originally introduced by the Afghan camel herders.

The owners have planted a new date plantation.

It provides a sheltered place to campin the arid country.

Coward Springs sits amongst a ground of mound springs.

And has a natural spa on site feed from such a spring

What a relief after a long ride!

Mound Springs are a unique part of outback Australia where water bubbles out of the ground from Australia’s Great Artesian Basin.

These springs provide green oasis in this otherwise arid land

The Southern section of the Track ends at William Creek an old railway siding with a welcoming hotel.

It was time for a break, adjust the drive, have a cold drink and choose my route to Oodnadatta.

The choice is direct or via Coober Pedy. Time is on my side so I have taken the long way via the underground town of Coober Pedy.

That tale is for the next blog.

Central Australia Adventure 5 – always will be Aboriginal Land!

Central Australia Adventure 5 – always will be Aboriginal Land!

Interpretation at Arkaroo Rock

The Adnyamathanha people are the aboriginal custodians of the lands around Ikara, or the Flinders Ranges as the colonialists called this land.

At Arkaroo Rock there are rock drawing that convey the dreaming stories of the Adnyamathanha.

These snippets from a large rock wall underplay the intricate linking of picture and storytelling that is contained on the rock wall

Stories such this one on the formation of Ikara.

Rock drawings change from region to region. The drawing in the Flinders Ranges differ to those in Kakadu, in Cape York and in other parts of Australia.

Each reflecting the stories and dreaming of the local Aboriginal people.

They also differ over time.

The rock etching in the Sacred Canyon and at Willow Springs being much older than that rock drawings are believed to predate the current aboriginal custodians of the land

For me the walk into Sacred Canyon is very spiritually moving.

Lets make sure we recognise and cherish this ancient culture that has lived in one with the land

Central Australia Adventure 4 – Wilpena Pound

Central Australia Adventure 4 – Wilpena Pound

Wilpena Pound National Park lays at the centre of the Flinders Ranges.

In many ways an oasis on the edge of the outback

To climb one of the lookouts or scale a peak is to gain a breathtaking vista like the view from Wangara Lookout below

Though the tracks can be a little testing, especially if a bit of light rain makes them damp.

Inside the Pound the forest is cool with towering River Gums and shady Native Conifers

And of course there is the Wilpena Homestead

I’m.many ways a simple pioneers building but a symbol of devestation in many ways for aboriginal Australians.

But that is a story for another blog.

The beautiful campground offers a shady rest for the adventurer.

Aerial view of Wilpena Pound sourced from the internet
Central Australian Adventure 3 – walks around Willow Springs

Central Australian Adventure 3 – walks around Willow Springs

Only 5 weeks or so back there had been flash flooding around the station as 85mm of rain fell inn30 minutes.

This had closed a number of trails and left other badly rutted challenging for walking.

But the view from Yacca lookout was worth the walk. Named after the Yacca grass trees that are endemic to Australia and can be seen in the middle photo above

The walk was very steep in places and the foothold very loose.

Further along the trail there are petroglyphs – aboriginal engravings.

These are thousands of years old.

I had read the last time I was here back in 2014 that there engraving were often sign posts. Showing where water or food can be found.

The circle symbol meant a permanent water source and the arrows the direction to find it

So I followed the dry creek bed in the direction of the arrows

After a kilometer or so there seeping from a rock, life giving water

Enough to make a string of little water holes on the creek bed

Its been a beautiful couple on nights camped here

Sitting by the camp fire

Walking the amazing gorges amongst the gum trees and native conifers

Next stop is the Wilpena Pound National Park before heading north toward the Oodnadatta Track.

Central Australian Adventure 2 – into the Flinders Ranges

Central Australian Adventure 2 – into the Flinders Ranges

The Flinders Ranges or Ikara in aboriginal language run from the southern end of Lake Eyre ( Kati Thanda to the sea at Port Augusta

I’m many ways the Ranges are a set of steps, a staircase leading from the south to the the red centre of Australia.

Willow Springs Staion provided the site for a couple nights camp.

As sunset loomed I couldn’t help but climb the rim on the gorge the station is in to see the colours.

Then back to camp to set the camp fire and prepare dinner.

Great place to camp and the dawn gave a beautiful welcome to the new day.

There are special colours when you get to the edge of the desert.