I was keen to visit the Gawler Ranges after reading something somewhere that compared them to the Flinders Ranges. Having been to see for ourselves, that comparison is a bit of a stretch, but it was a lovely place to spend four nights and relax, playing games and reading books together with very few other people around.
Coming from the Nullabor, the Gawler Ranges are not far off the most direct route towards Port Augusta so it was easy to add the area into our itinerary. We arrived reasonably late, driving through the national park to our campsite at around 7.00pm, but that meant that the wildlife was out in huge numbers. Kangaroos in particular, but also emus, were everywhere. Dodging them as they jumped haphazardly in front of the car became quite a challenge, although I’m pleased to say we made it to camp safely and no kangaroos were hurt in the process.
We chose to stay at a campsite called Old Kolay Hut, which we booked online at the last town before we lost phone reception. It was quite a nice campsite but the serenity was ruined somewhat but a long dead, and very smelly kangaroo, just near the toilet. We did find the ranger a couple of days later and he promptly and very kindly came past and disposed of the body.
The landscapes in the area are not strikingly spectacular like many other places we have been but certainly have their own, more subtle beauty.
The area was a sheep station until quite recently and was bought by the government to be converted to a national park in about 2002. So there’s still plenty of farming infrastructure around, including Pondanna Outstation which has been restored and is now available to stay in.
We actually didn’t explore very much and spent most of the time in camp playing games together, reading (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) and catching up on blog posts. It was really good to have a few rest days, just relaxing and spending time doing stuff together.
However, we did manage to see the Kolay Mirica Falls which are close to the campsite. The river was dry, but the volcanic rock formations were impressive and we had a good time walking about the river bed.
The Organ Pipes seem to be the main attraction in the park and are similar. It was a short walk in from the car park and then up a dry, rocky river bed with the pipes themselves along one side of the river. Further up, the river opened out into a large, smooth rock from which we had impressive views back over the surrounding area. Matthew, in particular, really enjoyed it here, exploring the rocks and leading me on a walk right along the very top of the Organ Pipes themselves.