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Travels

The Ridge Top Tour at Arkaroola

Whenever I told people who had been up to way that we were heading up to Arkaroola they all said the same thing –“Don’t miss the Ridge Top Tour”. Having done it, I am now one of those who will say “Don’t miss the Ridge Top Tour”!

The tour is the result of an anomaly, that someone can own a parcel of land, or have pastoral leases, but not own what is under that land. In the late 60s and early 70s companies created exploration tracks around Arkaroola to investigate what minerals might lie beneath the earth. One company was Exoil and they gave permission for Reg and Griselda Spriggs to use their tracks. One of those tracks became the Ridge Top Tour.

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The track winds its way through the remote area north of Arkaroola village. At one point the tour stops to let you look back on the village, to see the last bit of the human world that you will see for a while.

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And to look around at the non-human world

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And it was that environment that I loved.
The 4 wheel drive track was exhilarating — steep climbs, hairy corners to turn, steep slopes that the vehicle had to ‘walk’ gently down. But I really loved the remoteness, the grandeur of the mountains, the way the plant habitats changed around each corner.

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The destination of the tour was Stillers Lookout. And it was truly spectacular.
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In her autobiography, “Dune is a four letter word”, Griselda Sprigg tells how her family, Reg, her 2 young adult children and herself, were following one of Exoil’s tracks. It stopped at the base of what is now the lookout. Reg bushbashed up the slope, almost rolling the Jeep, to find the most incredible view that Griselda describes as

For a long time we were speechless. From the north-west all the way around to the south-east we could see the horizon: drought-crazed flood-outs meandering across parched plains towards Lake Frome, the glittering white expanse of the lake itself, desiccated red-brown station lands stretching away to a pitiless infinity. Behind us were the contorted ramparts of the Northern Flinders Ranges, ancient and mysterious and seething with brilliant colours.

And it is breathtaking. That’s Lake Frome you can see right on the horizon. It is one of the salt lakes that ring the northern Flinders Ranges.

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It is also where you get morning tea. ūüôā
The other thing that made the trip for me was the knowledge of the guides who took us. All the way Rick, our driver, was able to tell us about the rich history of the area, from way back in geological time to indigenous history to white settlement and exploration. He knew about rocks and plants and animals. And all the way he drove with such ease and confidence.

This last photo is a little reminder that this is a harsh and unforgiving environment, and that things can go wrong for even the best prepared. You may be able to see the vehicle as a white speck in the photo. It was taking a tour when the gear box went. The people on the tour were fine and never in danger, but the vehicle had sat out there for a while until it could be towed into to Arkaroola Village for repairs.

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Travels

Leaving the Flinders Ranges

I am going to leave blogging about the Flinders Ranges for awhile. Time to move east to Menindee and Kinchega National Park. So, one last photo……

Path along a ridge, where you were definitely walking on the bones of the Earth. (I think the white plant is Silver mulla mulla.)

…..and a link to a blog that has beautiful photos of the Ranges.

http://thesentimentalbloke.com/2012/10/moorilah-moon/

I came across Peter McDonald’s stunning photos in the Prairie Hotel, Parachilna — aerial photos of Lake Eyre in flood, taken from such an altitude that they became abstracts. Beautiful…..

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My art work Travels

Travel journal

Like most people I collect things as I travel. I have inherited my Mum’s passion for brochures but I also add my own treasures from the natural world — feathers and shells and seed pods and flowers (often photos, because I know I can’t pick native plants). Then there are the memories and the information. On past travels I have kept written journals. However, over this year I have become more fascinated with pictorial journals, looking at how other artists create their keepsakes. This time I decided to record this journey to Menindee and the Flinders Ranges differently.

I have used a Daler-Rowney book. Its paper is 150 gsm, and a good quality cartridge which took watercolour washes quite well. It is 27 by 22 cm and is landscape. Although it is bound and not spiral, I really like how it opens flat. I have been able to work comfortably across the double pages.

I had so much fun at night  working on this journal. (No TV in the caravan!) I needed to think about the layout, how to make it visually interesting, what I wanted to record, as well as making each page cohesive.

I would love to know how you record your special memories. Why don’t you leave me a comment?

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Birds Travels

Emus in the Flinders Ranges

EMUS

There are so many emus across the more arid areas we travelled through — from Menindee, out of Broken Hill, to the Flinders Ranges, including this one at the very aptly named Emu Creek, Kinchega National Park.

This photo is my favourite though. We were ambling along the Brachina Gorge track and came across this adult and chicks. They just sauntered up the road, and then up the bank. The adult, a male, waited until all the chicks had scrambled up the bank before he moved them on.

It is a male because male emus not only do most of the incubation, but then rear the chicks for the next 6 months. They will usually have a number of young to look after, and  have been known to take orphaned and abandoned chicks into their care too. Someone at the caravan park had a photo that showed one adult with 24 chicks!

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Travels

The yellow footed rock wallaby in the Flinders Ranges

YELLOW FOOTED ROCK WALLABY, or ANDU

Seeing the yellow footed rock wallaby was one of the highlights of my stay in the Flinders Ranges. These little marsupials are also known by their Adnyamathanha name, Andu. A colony of them live in the Brachina Gorge and if you are quiet and observant you can see them on a rock scree.

They are shy and very well camouflaged. Can you spot the 2 andu in this photo?

Before white people came to the area they used to be very common but their status now is vulnerable. They were hunted for their skins and to cut down on competition for the grazing sheep brought in by pastoralists.

As well, their populations have been decimated by foxes and feral cats.

The andu, as marsupials, carry their joeys in pouches. As the joey grows it becomes more difficult for the mother to jump from rock to rock. So the joeys are left in rock crevices while the mother forages. A great idea when there was no real danger from bigger predators. However foxes and cats changed that. Instead of being a safe creche, the crevice made the joey easy pickings. Now, the National Park has established programmes to help protect them.

This andu came out after the other photographers had gone, and posed just for me!

And then bounded away!

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Travels

Sacred Gorge in the Flinders Ranges

The Sacred Gorge is another stunning gorge in the Flinders Ranges. You walk (clamber at times!) up the creek bed, looking at the marvellous rock formations. This makes it more intimate than Brachina Gorge, which is a drive, not a walk.

The other thrill in this gorge is the Aboriginal art that has been carved into the rock. It is not always obvious, which makes it even more special. The Adnyamathanha people believe that the art was created in the Dreamtime. Given the beauty and age of this serene place, that seems quite possible.

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Travels

Hello world!

Welcome to a place where I can show you my artistic world — the people that inspire me, the natural things that catch my eye, and my own art work.

And to begin, some photos that I took on our recent trip to the Flinders Ranges. Enjoy!

 

 

The Flinders Ranges are incredibly old. Fossil evidence has dated them to about 640 million years, which make them some of the oldest mountains in the world. Move through them and you see the bones of the earth.

Rawnsley Bluff at sunset

The rocky, exposed environment means that many plants are suited to the arid conditions, such as the prolific white cypress pine (Callitris glaucophylla). However, along the dry creek beds there are magnificent river red gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), like these growing along the track into Wilpena Pound.