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Old 10-10-2010, 02:35 AM   #1
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Flinders Ranges - Adelaide to Arkaroola

Having spent quite a bit of time in the Northern Flinders ranges in years gone by it was time to muster up the bikes and head north from Adelaide to check out the country side since season breaking rains had recently fallen in the area.
The plan called for a leisurely pace over a week, camping out each night and staying off the tar as much as possible. The crew consisted of the 3. Russell and and I on DR 650’s and Paul on his aptly named 250 Kawasaki ‘Sherpa’.

Day 1 - Adelaide to Wirrabra Forest

Ready for departure

We took the winding roads through the Adelaide Hills via Lower Hermitage and soon popped out at Gawler before running into our first little problem. The trusty GPS had us heading down one of the many dirt roads north of Gawler when we came to a dead end.. The newly completed 4 lane Northern Expressway had cut a swath through our chosen road. After a bit of a recce we soon found a spot through the fence on one side and to the bemusement of the motorists we undid a portion of a gate on the other side and made good our intended escape route.

Where there’s will there’s a way..

Soon we were passing through green farming land with the occasional creek crossing.

Then we came to some muddy sections of track that called for some detours

We stopped for a break at another creek crossing before heading into Laura

Here we encountered our second problem for the day. With space in our kit for a 24 can slab of beer with ice (2 days ration) we found the only cans available at the pub were in 30 packs! Oh well, we found a way to fit them surprisingly!

From Laura we checked out a few tracks into the area for future reference then moved through to Wirrabra Forest . No sign of Ostrich!

Nice tracks through the forest

With a stealth campsite already sussed out from a previous trip we soon found our makeshift ‘gate’ and made our way through.

We explored a few tracks through the pines

before Paul’s Sherpa got a bit weary from the load and had a lie down

With enough riding for the day we decided to make camp and settle down with a few beers and listen to the last half of the AFL Grand Final on the radio. What a cracker match as it turned out – a draw!

Camp night 1

Paul, our resident fire maker, soon had the fire up and going and dinner was the go. We lashed out on the first night with steaks and snags brought from home.

Lucky for this little bloke we saw him before he got near the fire

With our beer quota for the day soon gone and a port to wash it down it was into the tents after an enjoyable first day.

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Old 10-10-2010, 02:43 AM   #2
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Day 2 - Wirrabra to Moralana

After breaking camp we checked out a few more tracks in the forest before heading north


At one of the old gates we found the remains of a kangaroo that had become entangled while trying to get through. Not a nice way to go..

Our next stop was at the start of the Bridle Track, a 4x4 track that crosses the range giving great views of the surrounding countryside.

Once down on the western side of the range we headed north on dirt before hitting the tar for a nice spin through Horrocks Pass and then refueled at Wilmington. The area was as green as I’d ever seen it and the section to Ouorn via Old Gunyha Rd was most enjoyable.

Soon we were in Quorn where we picked up a few things at the local store and headed out on the dirt via Arden Vale Road.

This smooth flowing road passes close by a number of gorges on its way towards Hawker. About 40kms later we came to a road junction and decided to take the less travelled route that followed Calabrinda Creek. While not really sure of its bona fide status we passed several unlocked gates and continued on until we realised it would pass right next to a homestead in the distance. As was to be the case with so many of these dwellings as we ventured further north, it turned out to be abandoned.

Not long later the track did skirt around a homestead but with a wave we were back out onto the main road. We had intended to have a big pub meal for lunch at Hawker and a smaller dinner that night but although we arrived before the end of lunch there were no meals available. Our back up plan saw us head down the road for burger at the local store and into the melee of tourists who were swarming over the Flinders during the school holidays.
That hit the spot!

Next it was off along the Moralana Scenic Drive, a picturesque road that skirts between the surrounding ranges.

After some searching around we came to a great campsite along the edge of a small flowing creek and set up camp for the night.

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Old 10-10-2010, 02:55 AM   #3
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Day 3 - Moralana to Artimore

After packing up camp we back tracked on the Moralana Scenic Route and then hit the road again towards Blinman but via the longer dirt loop that passes through Bunyeroo. The road had been pretty badly cut up after recent rains and had hardened to make it rather rough. Soon we came to the Bunyeroo Creek which still had quite a bit of water flowing along the road.

At the intersection of the Brachina Gorge road we found the road coming in from the west was still closed after flood damage but we were heading east so no dramas.

After a pleasant detour in and out to Aroona Hut we were soon back on the new bitumen road to Blinman.

Aroona Hut

At Blinman we had intended to stock up on some essentials (ie beer, ice and bbq shapes) but found they had no cold cans, or ice or shapes! They did have an excellent steak sandwich and a nice comfy lounge though..

Paul’s ability to breath through his ears comes in handy at times

That leather lounge will never be the same

So our next stop was 15km up the road to Angorichina Village. This place is great, with friendly service provided by Dave and his wife Caroline. We refueled, got water, beer (bloody 30 pack again!), ice, port and even bbq shapes.

Then it was on through Parachilna Gorge which had lots of water and even more tourists camped in every crevice of the creek.

We took the road north from Parachilna Gorge that heads in a loop around to Blinman through Glass Gorge but our plans had us continue on past Moolooloo Station rather than continue the loop. This led us onto the Public Access Route (PAR) that runs through Hannigan Gap and further on past the ruins of Artimore. The track is quite diverse and follows Artimore Creek for a lot of its journey.

On the PAR

Artimore Ruins

Once at the ruins we tracked down to the creek and despite a brown snake rearing up at Russell as we rode past we soon found a good campsite amongst the native pines but not before Paul had trouble ‘parking’ the Sherpa

Artimore campsite

Dinner was late after the big lunch at Blinman with Fried Rice on the menu

washed down with a port or two!

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Old 10-10-2010, 02:59 AM   #4
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Day 4 - Artimore to the Gammon Ranges (Idninha Ck)

With camp packed away the PAR was soon completed and the road north to Narrina Station was in great condition having recently been graded after the heavy rains.
Having previously visited Narrina Station in 4x4’s we reacquainted ourselves with the landowner Alan,having been in touch re permission some weeks prior. Alan told us that he was still having a hard time with the dingo population that has bred up south of the dingo fence. Sheep numbers on Narrina were very low and the adjacent pastoral lease at Mulga View had destocked sheep completely.

Catching up with Allan at Narrina

As we said our goodbyes and took a station track north towards Mulga View and Natawarrina I asked Allan what the track condition was like ‘Yeah.. pretty slow’ he replied. He was right! No sign of any type of traffic for some time with the track pretty well overgrown after the last big rains.
Lots of Sturt’s Desert Pea about

With lots of gutters and creeks crossings we were glad for a break at bore near Pinda Springs.

Soon we came to the boundary gate for Natawarrina, Australia’s first Indigenous Protected Area. Previously organised permits from Nepabunna Aboriginal community were required to pass through ($25 a head but better than the 8k fine!).

The old homestead and tank have long since been abandoned.

With a stop for lunch called we found a nice little creek bed and ventured in off the track for several hundred meters. Having just started to munch on some mettwurst (and bbq shapes!) we heard a 4x4 pass by. Soon after it was back and stopped at where our tracks had headed off to the creek. After poking around for a bit we decided to it would be better to let them know we were there. It was the boss Ian Johnson from the Nepabunna community who had no idea we were on the lands (so much for communication). He was very friendly (once he knew we had a permit) just annoyed that he hadn’t been told we were around.

Lunch in the creek

After lunch more creek crossings

and then out onto main road that runs from Copley to Balcanoona at The John Crossing. We headed west on this road past Nepabunna and Iga Warta until taking a track that runs north again past Mt Serle station. This track passes by the deserted homestead at Yankaninna before passing into the Gammon Ranges National Park near the also deserted Yadinna (more recently known as Idninha)


By now it was quite late in the day so we found a nice campsite on Idninha Creek.

Dinner on this night was not quite as salubrious with tins and pasta the order of the day

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Old 10-10-2010, 03:02 AM   #5
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Day 5 - Idninha Creek to Arkaroola

We back tracked to Yadinna in the morning as an old track out to Old Illinawortina ruins starts out the back of the buildings. Once up a fairly rocky and rutted slope it was across the hills to the site of the ruin.

On the track to Old Illinawortina

Old Illinawortina ruin

The tenacity of those who tried to eke out a living in this rather isolated part of the Flinders is quite remarkable. From the ruin we followed a track that ultimately traced its way along the bed of Illinawortina Creek which still had some water in it.

The plan was to find a nice campsite in the Gammons and then head on into Arkaroola for a shower and feed that night.

So off through the creekbed we headed

Until we found a pleasant spot near some gums

After setting up camp we then had a somewhat bumpy ride over the creek boulders until we emerged at the old Bolla Bollana smelter which is about 7km from the Arkaroola Village. Having gone bush to choose our camp site the trick would be getting back to camp in the dark after maybe a beer (or 2). Isn’t that what a GPS is for?

Bolla Bollana Smelter

Paul and I have been visiting Arkaroola since the late 1970’s when we used to burn around on these things (notice the safety gear in vogue then?)

(here’s the same bike after some restoration 30+ years on!)

and we made ourselves famous at the place after a little mishap back in 1985 with Paul’s 40 series Landcruiser…

Since then we always make a habit of spending some time with the Doug Sprigg when he’s around (who has run the place with his sister Marg for many years since the passing of his parents). It’s interesting to note that amongst their many achievements the Sprigg family were the first people to make a motorised crossing of the Simpson Desert back in 1962 in a G60 Nissan Patrol when Doug was just a kid.

As is often the way, one story leads to another and the beers start sliding down very easily.

Just don’t try this at home (and yes Paul is a diabetic!)

After a few close calls we eventually made it back to camp in the dark.

Back at last! (not sure if Paul’s fallen asleep or the insulin has yet to kick in!)

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Old 10-10-2010, 03:51 AM   #6
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Day 6 - Arkaroola to Yunta

Up early and a bit of checking of the bikes before we left was in order

Mmm this looks interesting (bloody night creek crossings)

When we were in at Arkaroola Village the day before we found the place swarming with people, many of whom were part of the Lightning Ridge Police Bush Safari. Around 150 people in over 50 four wheel drives were taking part and were very keen to fuel up and get out before they hit the road. Luckily for us they were just ‘mustering’ the troops as we filled up our water and fuel and headed south towards Balcanoona.

Fueling up at Arkaroola for the 300km run to Yunta

Once past Balcanoona we turned onto the Yunta road and headed south. Back in the 1980’s this road was not much more than a graded sandy track but today with mining in the area is a highway!

Just watch those road trains!

It’s pretty flat and uninteresting for the most part, although we did find a small creek to take a break in.

The only real bit of excitement was passing the road gang with a bit of fishtail through the recently watered section of roadworks.

Then it was on past yet more ruins, (this time the remains of the Waukaringa Mine and Waukaringa Hotel about 34km out from Yunta)

Before we arrived at Yunta where we fuelled up and then checked out the pub to wash away a little dust.

The place was devoid of any customers but the publican assured us that they’d put on a feed for us that night. So after stocking up the esky we headed out to find a suitable campsite before coming back in for a meal at the pub that night. The only real camping option was in Yunta Creek, and after a bit of searching we came upon a pretty good spot to set up.

The Sherpa had its late afternoon nap once more

Once camp was setup it was an easy drive back to town that night and the meal at the Yunta pub was worth the wait.

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Old 10-10-2010, 03:54 AM   #7
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Top report, seems everyone was up there over the last few weeks.....We were at the Parachina pub during the AFL GF (draw)

Was on the lookout for snakes along the PAR as we had a Brown cross the road at Blinman on Friday, we did the PAR Sat am & Sub am..
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Old 10-11-2010, 11:52 PM   #8
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Day 8 - Cadell to Adelaide

We were up early and got the camp packed before too many of our insect friends appeared.

Once on the road again it was back into Morgan to hit the bakery for an early morning pie and bun.

From Morgan we ran south along the river on the road to Blanchetown and then on to the Swan Reach road before turning off east into the malee country at Morundie.

Soon we were past Sedan and over Pine Hut road where the rolling hills were nice and green.

From there it was through the back of Kersbrook and Inglewood

before arriving home in time for the Grand Final replay.. (and what a dud that was!)

Back in one piece!

Thanks to Paul and Russell (his were the good photos) for a great trip!


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Old 10-12-2010, 12:41 AM   #9
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Looks like you found some interesting tracks around Gammon Ranges area. Cant understand why you are complaining about the 30 packs though. More beer is better!
And how would Edmund Hillary have ever climbed Everest if his sherpa kept laying down every 5 minutes?
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Old 10-12-2010, 12:53 AM   #10
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Magnificent. We must have been just a day or two ahead of you through Nantawarrina and then into the Gammons, though came through from Arkaroola.
You (Russell) sure got some great photos.
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Old 10-12-2010, 01:17 AM   #11
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Good report guys, well done
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Old 10-12-2010, 01:17 AM   #12
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What a bloody good trip! Thanks for the warning about those mozzies...

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Old 10-12-2010, 01:30 AM   #13
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Excellent report
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Old 10-12-2010, 03:39 AM   #14
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Top trip fellas, great write up and snaps. Thank you for sharing
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Old 10-19-2010, 03:09 AM   #15
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Fantastic trip, been to Flinders and Arkaroola before but noted you took some station/private tracks from Artimore loop to Arkaroola......
Great scenery, great tracks, must get the maps out and plan for next years trip
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