Monday, July 22, 2019

Day 8 — Thu 22/8/2019

Today was given over to the drive from Marree to Wilpena Pound in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park.  An early breakfast and top up of diesel and I was back again on sealed highway.


50 km south of Marree lies the deserted town of Farina.  What makes it an interesting stop is that a group of volunteers are slowly restoring the ruins to create a museum township.  In the 1890s the town had a population of 600 — a school, bakery, 2 pubs, police station, Anglican and Catholic Churches, rail station and associated loading facilities.  The old town has been mapped and signposted by the  volunteers, and several buildings are resurrrecting from the rubble.  Did I mention the all-important brothel?


Another dying town along the old Ghan rail track.  Not much more than the pub and a caravan park there now.  Just out of town lives a real character who goes by the name of Talc Alf.  He is staunch republican and has been lobbying to have the Aboriginal flag replace the Union Jack in the corner of our national flag.  Alf lives hermit style life, and the talked me blind for 40 minutes with his quirky theories of name meanings and history.  He is clearly a well read, educated and widely travelled 75 year old who now passes his time carving fugues in talc stone.  The hills nearby have been a secret quarry for thousands of years for aborigines after ochre for body painting.  A trade in red and white and yellow ochre (or talc) from here has existed right across the country.  Alf gets slabs of this talc stone and carves it using simple scraping tools.  He has an interesting gallery on show.  He is easily the most interesting person I have met on my travels here.


Several km off the highway Alain’s a gravel road one is supposed to come to the “historic town” of Beltana.  Problem is that when one arrives a sign greets you telling you that Beltana is “closed” .. it has gone for historic to history !  I suspect a few other tiny outposts are heading the same way.  Near the former town is the Afghan Well.  A bore supplies drinking water that flows into a long trough where camels used to drink.  A large holding yard there was used by the cameleers while they organised the loads they were to transport onwards.  The well and trough are still functioning, and today a small flock of sheep was using it to quench their thirst.


Next historic stop was Parachilna with its “historic pub” the Prairie Hotel.  Had lunch there.  They offer all sorts of bush tucker on the menu, as well as pies from assorted animal meats.  I settled safely for a beef pie!  The area is famous for the discover there of  the Ediacaran fossils.  These are fossilised remnants of the very earliest living creatures on earth, leaflike in shape but probably jelly-fish like in structure.  None were on display, but they have some metal sculptures there depicting the major finds.

Wilpena Pound was my next destination.  I had intended travelling via Blinman and down the sealed Flinders Way to the resort.  Somehow I took a wrong turn and ended up on a narrow winding track that led through two gorges, the Brachina  and the Bunyeroo.  The scenery was spectacular, especially when the track wound through a narrow gap in the ranges, with brightly coloured sheer rock faces towering above me.  Eventually I exited onto the Flinders Way and reached the Pound resort at 4pm.. a good hour later than I had planned.

The resort is run by local aboriginal companies, and 70% of staff are indigenous.  All very courteous and helpful.  My room is comfortable and well heated (overnight expected to go close to frost).  I quickly discovered the whereabouts of the guest laundry, rounded up a supply of dollar coins from reception and got my clothing supply back to 100% clean.

Tomorrow I will attempt a walk to one of the lookouts that allow one to view the pound.  Maybe take a drive back to Blinman that I missed today.  And today’s photos are.  here

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