30 Aug 2011- Doesn't get any better than this.......or does it?

It was another leisurely (I'll have to look up the Thesaurus for another word for leisurely) start to the day. Di and Dave had long gone and were off somewhere overhead, floating over the Ranges and surrounds in a hot air balloon. Peter and Robyn also took to the air, but they chose a light plane. Both parties returned very satisfied with their respective flights and will no doubt have some spectacular photos as a reminder. Sharon and I took a stroll down to the Visitor's Centre and General Store to see what was on offer. The store has most of the bare essential food items, a selection of wines and spirits, a bunch of basic camping stuff, and the usual souvenirs.

After lunch we piled into the 4WDs and headed down the (dirt) road a bit to Sacred Canyon. Here, we trekked and rock-hopped up a dry creek bed, through the narrow rock walls, to the end of the canyon to see the ancient aboriginal rock carvings.

On our return to the camp, plans were made for tomorrow's itinerary, then the big and little hands showed it was "beer" o'clock. I forgot to mention that Dave and I drove back to the store and bought a sack of firewood. So, we did the typical blokey thing and stood around a smokey pit, stubby in hand, and poked and prodded at the wood until we were satisfied with the fire. On went a few spuds wrapped in foil which we topped off with bacon and mushroom bits, sour cream, grated cheese and some coleslaw. Pete helped round of the meal with some apple crumble he cooked in the Bedourie (camp oven), accompanied by homemade custard.

The day finished up around the campfire with a good cup of coffee and a nice drop of Port. Don't reckon it gets much better than this.

P.S. this is the view out our door:

29 Aug 2011 - A view from the top

    We awoke this morning to another brilliant day. The curious birds that inhabit the area were making a ruckus and the crows were doing their best Graham Kennedy impressions. After a leisurely breakfast and a cup of  freshly brewed coffee, we all filled our water bottles, donned some headwear and took off on a walk to the original Wilpena Homestead some 3.3Kms out from the resort. The track takes you into the "Pound" following the Wilpena Creek, passing some towering rock formations on either side. At the end of the trail is the 150 year old Wilpena Homestead.
     There's a series of information panels that describe the history of the place, and the family that lived there. They certainly lived through some tough times. If it wasn't drought, it was flood that knocked them to their knees again and again.
     Up behind the homestead is a track up to the Lower and Upper Wangarra Hill lookouts. The sign said 400m to the first lookout, and another 400m further to the next, which seemed a bit optimistic to us at the top, but the views were well worth the effort.

Dada and his chicks, next to the Homestead walking trail.

We were all a bit weary by the time we got back to camp, so it was a very leisurely (there's that word again!) arvo.

Later in the day, at about "Scotch" o'clock, we received an inpromptu visit from a couple of the locals who hopped in to say gidday. Very friendly, not at all concerned by the human activity in the park. 

As the day drew to a close, we amused ourselves watching some of the newbies arriving, doing the obligatory "caravan cha-cha", trying to get their 'van in the optimal position on their designated site. We've all been there, so we're allowed to pass judgment.

Di and Dave are off on their early morning hot air balloon flight tomorrow (5:15am take-off), so they've already said goodnight. I don't think we'll be up too long either.

28 Aug 2011 - Now for the good stuff....

We were up reasonably early, had breakfast and then took our time packing up. As we hadn't unhooked the 'van from the car the night before, it didn't take us long to get ready to roll out. It was a bit of a surprise to find we seemed to be the only ones up and about out of the group we were parked next to.

We made our way back to the highway, and were soon back to cruising along at 100Kph, enjoying the brilliant sunshine and cloudless sky.

About 140Kms from Port Wakefield is Port Pirie, a small waterside town with a lot of character. There's some classic old sandstone buildings set in amongst some very contemporary and ubiquitous architecture (Macca's, KFC, Hungry Jack's).

After a quick whizz into Port Pirie and back out again, it was on to Port Augusta. This is a strange place with the town split in two by the narrow upper reaches of the Spencer Gulf. We did some last minute grocery shopping here to replenish some of the fruit and vegies we had to trash when we came across the border. But, would you believe Coles Supermarket had no broccoli?

Back to the Highway, and the turnoff to Quorn and the Flinders Ranges. The hills and ranges, even here, looked very different to anything I'd seen before, very crinkly and covered in low growing wood.

Not too far to our destination now and the scenery is changing dramatically. All to the side of us and off into the distance are tall, craggy hills with the famous red earth showing through. Shaz has the camera out and is clicking away madly whilst we're streaking along at full noise.

 After much anticipation, we made it. The park is not how we expected it. I wasn't picturing anything as orderly as this, with each powered site layed out and well maintained and there are trees everywhere.

Di and Dave arrived here ahead of us, just after lunch-time, and were well ensconsed on the site next to where we were to occupy, looking pretty relaxed and full of serenity when we pulled in.

With a bit of help from Dave, we soon had ourselves set up and were able to take the time to admire our surroundings a little.

So, at the end of the day, the driving is over, I've gone as far West as I've ever been, made it to the edge of the outback, and copped a hint of what amazing scenery, history and natural beauty this part of Australia has to offer. Looking forward to tomorrow.

27 Aug 2011 - Bye. Don't forget to feed the dog.

Finally! Saturday arrived and we hit the road. After a fairly long and uneventful day's driving, we made our first night's stop at Port Wakefield. It was almost dark by the time we lobbed at the caravan park and were fortunate enough to get one of the last of the drive-through sites. The park was really quiet, neat and tidy, nothing flash, but the lady manager that greeted us was nice and helpful. This would be a terrific location if you had a boat.

Here's the view immediately out the back of the park.

We felt a little out of place with our family sedan next to all the 4x4s, a bit like an Ethiopian marathon runner in a room full of Sumo wrestlers.

23 Aug 2011 - The longest week of our lives (so far).

It's still only Tuesday! Another 4 more sleeps 'til we hit the road for Wilpena Pound. Shaz and I both have itchy feet, and by the emails I'm getting from Davo, we're not alone. Still trying to decide where we're going to stop the 1st night. I'm liking the sound of Port Wakefield, 782Kms down the road. I guess I'll mention the location somewhere in a later entry. Roll on Friday.