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Home > Travelogues > 2005 Travelogues Index > Gawler Ranger National Park
We head through pastoral stations to the Gawler Ranges in South Australia
Short version only - full version with pictures yet to come
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Gawler Range National Park and pastoral stations

 

At Iron Knob we left the Eyre Highway to drive north west through pastoral stations and towards the Gawler Ranges.  Near Lake Gairdner we walked to investigate stone ruins.  This was signed as the Pondanna Station shearing quarters, built around 1880.  A semi underground stone water tank was now quite dry amongst the crumbling ruins. 

 

Thunder rumbled and the air became heavy.  Would we be caught in rain?  Confused by signage and unsure of what was public road and what was a private station entrance, we took a wrong turn and found ourselves heading south, but it was on all roads we hadnít seen before, so we continued, knowing we would reach the Eyre Highway. 

 

At this point, with bushfires still fresh in our minds, we saw lightening strike and start a fire on a hill top.  Although the vegetation looked sparse, the fire continued to burn down from the hill top.  Fearing another bushfire disaster, and having no mobile phone reception, we drove to the nearest station homestead, but found nobody there, nor at any of the cottages or outbuildings. 

 

Not wanting to be trapped in an unknown area by fire, or stranded should the looming thunderstorm bring drenching rain and flood the creek crossings, we continued south.  It made a very long day.  With the thunder clouds closing in on us, we stopped only when we reached the end of the pastoral stations, where the rural roads were better formed for all weather travelling.  It had been nine long hours since we started out that morning. 

 

Next morning we reached the Eyre Highway near Koongawa and continued westwards to Wudinna where we once again headed toward the Gawler Ranges National Park, passing some of the granite rocks which we will talk about on the next page.

 

Gawler Ranges National Park started as a 120,000 hectare pastoral property known as Paney Station. It was purchased by the South Australian Government in 2000, with help from the Australian Government and the Nature Foundation SA. In 2001 the same partners then acquired part of adjacent Scrubby Peak Station and almost 42,000 hectares were added to the national park.

 

One of the oldest volcanic landscapes in the world, Gawler Ranges' volcanic rock formations were formed almost 1,500 million years ago.

 

One of the animals they sometimes encounter in the Gawler Ranges National Park is the endangered yellow footed rock wallaby.  In 2000 there were only about six of the animals left in the region. Thanks to a concerted effort by park rangers, they now number more than a hundred.

 

In the Gawler Range National Park, we stopped for the night near Old Paney Station Homestead which has been set up for pioneer style group accommodation.  Kangaroos and wallabies were in abundance. 

 

It was very hot and humid so we used the generator and air conditioner, and curious kangaroos that were resting in the shade under the trees came over to see us before hopping back into the shade until dusk. 

 

Thunder rolled all night and kept waking us.  Only a few sprinkles of rain fell in each shower.  All night I was puzzled to hear the kangaroos walking on the sheets of corrugated iron that were lying on the ground. At first light, I could see why; they were licking up the sparse drops of rain as they fell. 

 

Other places we visited included the old shed and shearing quarters; now used as accommodation for groups.  A small stone dam once provided water for station livestock in this dry environment. 

 

We drove in to see the ĎOrgan Pipesí; columns of volcanic rhyolite.  This was a challenging four wheel drive track to take with the caravan in tow, having steep dips and rises, soft patches, and overhung with trees.  When we reached the end of the track, it just stopped with nowhere to turn around.   Leave your caravan behind at the start of the four wheel drive track on re-entry into the park. 

 

After a multi point turn, we were confident we could head out, and no damage was done to the surrounding scrub while making this turn on the spot.  A short walk took us to the impressive columns of rocks which semi-surrounded us. This is one of two accessible rhyolite formations in this National Park; the other being at Kolay Mirica Falls with both being on four wheel drive recommended tracks.   

 

 

 

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