After a cool night with the majority of the vents open in the caravan Lachlan and Ava woke at 6 and escaped for a walk to see the sunrise whilst Audrey and I read “Are we there yet?” – a great children book about a family who took a caravan around Australia for 3 months which was given to the girls by their best fiends Mia and Charlie.
A lot of the guests were packing up this morning to head onto their next destination. It was really nice seeing so many friendly people last night walking around the park. Probably the busiest park we have stayed at so far – about 30vans. It a fantastic caravan park! So remote with fantastic amenities and a camp kitchen that stands out from anywhere else! On the surface it seems like the owners of the caravan park thought about everything – putting families with children in one area and grey nomads in another. A fantastic opportunity for our girls to mingle with other children.
We had decided that we were going to head to Wilpena Pound first thing for a walk in the Flinders Ranges and then to a famous pub at Parachilna for lunch and then back for a swim. Wilpena Pound is a natural amphitheatre of mountains in the heart of the Flinders Ranges – it’s made of sedimentary rock ranging from blue / grey limestone to red sandstone – both 550 million years old.
So at 830am we left and drove the 20kms to Wilpena and hopped on a shuttle bus to take us into the Pound (this saved us a 6km round trip of walking in and out). Once we had been dropped off we were told to be back at the bus by 11.15am to be taken back to the car. Our neighbours from last night were also on the shuttle bus, so the girls were happy. A family from Frankston who are one month into their 12 month lap. Their 3yo girl Ruby, who has been inseparable from our girls since they met 4pm yesterday, was walking hand in hand with Audrey and Ava for the 20min walk along creek beds and into the Pound. Once we got to the homestead we then walked up to a lookout – which was a steep incline up rocky terrain. A stunning view of the ‘crater’ and really gave us the perspective of the Flinders Ranges in their entirety……We walked around 5km in total this morning and Ava walked the whole lot and Audrey was on Lachlan’s shoulders for about half. Ava said on the way down that she doesn’t want to be an explorer as it involves too much walking. The heat picked up whilst we were in the Pound as there was no wind – so it felt really muggy. We made it back in good time for the shuttle bus, so I created a game of Petang with sticks and stones for the girls. Ava and Audrey did well, although Ruby doesn’t have an eye for throwing – her two brothers obviously don’t practice their cricket skills with her.
We arrived back at the car and headed straight through the heart of the Ranges on the Brachina gorge geological trail, which was another unsealed road for about 1.5hours – def more rocky than those we have ventured on so far. The scenery was spectacular with rock formations and wrinkles that the camera just didn’t capture. We went along dried up river beds and probably should have lowered the tyres a little but it didn’t seem far enough to worry about. We then headed out of the Flinders Ranges and suddenly we were driving along a dirt track on a dead flat landscape up to a little place called Parachilna – to our lunch destination The Prairie Hotel where the desert meets the mountains.
We had heard about the famous hotel and wanted to try its menu – it’s not everyday your able to experience one of the top 20 experiences of Australian outback and have a meal which is listed in the top 100 gourmet experiences in Australia. So Lachlan bravely ordered the FMG “feral mixed grill” and I ordered a chicken salad (just in case Lachlan’s dish was inedible). The actual hotel was very smart and funky (it could have been in the middle of Balmain and wouldn’t have looked out of place) with an art gallery and trendy decorations. We could have been tempted with some art had we not just started the trip! The girls meals arrived and Audrey’s minute steak which she ordered arrived with a description of ‘whose having the cow?’ Ava had the pasta and then THE dish arrived. It had three animal road signs stuck in each of the pieces of meat so that we knew what we were eating – Camel sausage, Emu mignon and Kangaroo fillet. I was so proud of Lachlan for ordering this dish – it had to be done, but actually doing it was a different matter. Lach carved into the Camel sausage and handed a piece to me – we both liked it. Ava asked to try it and she said yum too. I asked Lach for more as did Ava. Audrey refused to try the Camel she just wanted her Cow. Then Lach cut into the Kangaroo and handed it around. I wasn’t too keen, but Ava asked for thirds. Then the third and final sample was the Emu mignon which was Emu mince wrapped in bacon. I didn’t like it – too gamey, whereas Ava thought it was the best one. Lachlan thought it was a little dry. Audrey also tried the Kangaroo and the Emu – although she didn’t know she was eating it, Lach snuck her samples in as if they were her Cow!!! So the summary was that we all tried it and Ava’s favourite was Emu, Lachs favourite was Kangaroo and mine was the Camel.
At the restaurant Ava needed the bathroom and she walked in a little nervous after her morning experience of dump toilets in Wilpena Pound. She walked into the cubicle and with a sigh of relief said “phew, I’m glad this isn’t a dump toilet – this is much more attractive. Dump toilets smell and are surrounded by flies”. The hotel also had a resident cattle dog – who looked like Wally – the girls were very excited but I said they weren’t allowed to pat it, as it’s probably a working dog and might not be friendly.
We set off back to the caravan site for a swim – it was mid 30’s by this point and so dry. We decided to do a long main route back verses cutting across the Flinders again on an unsealed road, as we both thought we had done so well having driven so much on unsealed roads over the last few days with no tyre issues and didn’t want to blow a tyre on the last 27kms of unsealed until we get to the west side of the Nullabor.
We stopped off in Hawker to buy some fruit and veg (seeing as we had none as couldn’t bring it across the border from NSW) and then were back in camp by 330pm to which the girls and Lach then jumped in the pool whilst I prepared dinner before I joined them for 30mins lying by the pool before the evening routine (which is exactly the same as home) of showers dinner and bed.
Lach went to the kitchen to cook dinner (which is the only place we can get a ‘weak’ signal) and also to call ahead for our next stop tomorrow…… we were originally going to head north to Marree but have decided that we have done our fair share of outback by heading to Tibooburra and White Cliffs that we didn’t feel we need to do more and now want to start our head west. So tomorrow we are heading to Coffin Bay and I am SO excited about eating Oysters and seeing wildlife in the caravan park. It’s a long drive tomorrow but will be worth it – then within 2 days we will be on the Nullabor!!
Also hoping for better signal so that I can upload some photos. I don’t want to get too far behind 🙂