Caernarvon Track – Bunkers Conservation Park, Flinders Ranges – 8-10 June 2019

Friday 7th of June
Greg and Maria, Jim and Lea, Jim and Michele, Mark and Viv, Bruce and Paul, and Lynne and Peter met at Bunnings carpark for the trip to the Caernarvon track in the Flinders Ranges for the Long weekend holiday. Unfortunately Trevor and Barb were a late withdrawal due to a problem with the Toyota.

We left the carpark and travelled to Tarlee and stopped to regroup after negotiating the traffic lights and other travellers, the bakery had nice coffee and cakes. The group stopped at Jamestown for a comfort stop and lunch (at the bakery), next stop Hawker for fuel before continuing to the turnoff to the Bunkers Conservation Reserve arriving with plenty of time to set up, pay our fees and get the fire going before dark.

Saturday 8th June
In the morning it was decided to go for a drive. Jim and Lea led 4 couples for a tour through the Brachina Gorge, a historical drive through 130 million years of earth’s history from 650 million years ago stopping at a couple of beautiful camping spots with good toilets. The drive continued to Parachilna Hotel for a glass of afternoon cheer. Then the drive back to camp via Angorichina village for icecreams (and some $1.69/l fuel for Peter). The Parachilna Gorge had many camping in the creek and any available flat areas travelling on-ward through Blinman. Turning left at Oraparinna homestead back to camp, a leisurely 206km drive. Dave and Sue, Harry and Pam had arrived and finally just as dark fell, Steve and James arrived after a navigating error took them for a 100km return diversion towards Martins Well.

A few nibbles and drinks, dinner and gathering around a lovely warm fire completed a great day.
Peter Pyman

Sunday 9th June
We decided to split our group of 9 vehicles into two smaller groups. The first group of 5, led by Steve and James were to leave at 9.30 to be followed an hour later by the other 4 cars led by Peter and Lynn.

Armed with the detailed instructions from our friendly hosts Jorge and Lien we set off at the crack of 9.30. As we were heading to the track we came across another group of 9 vehicles coming in to the park so we quickly let Peter and his group know so they could get moving ahead of the new arrivals that were apparently expected the next day.

The drive that followed was certainly one of the best available in the Flinders. There were so many amazing views, along with some serious low-range 4-wheel driving. Several times during the day we had those moments where all you could see was sky and bonnet through the windscreen. The ground was very dry, so generally speaking, there was good traction, but there were many deep ruts and run-offs that you really wouldn’t want to put a wheel into.

The highlights of the drive were the amazing views that we got from the top of Mt Caernarvon and the Southern Lookout. This involved a very steep drive up a rocky track, with just enough room at the top for 5 vehicles once the first 3 had turned around. I’m told that at least one of the ladies in our group kept her eyes firmly closed during the climb and descent, but she loved the views at the top. Once we came down, the second group went up, and while they were there, the other group of 9 passed them and missed out on this great climb and the stunning views that rewarded us.

The later parts of the track that ran along the boundary with the Sky-Track on Willow Springs Station and we were surprised with the amount of bulldust. (There may have also been a bit of that around the campfire that evening!)

Many of the members commented on just how dry the area is for this time of year – Steve made the point that he wanted to visit the area in winter to see it when it’s at its greenest, but that might have to be another year.

Despite the dryness of the area we were still able to see plenty of wildlife, including kangaroos and euros, their smaller cousins as well as emus and wedge tailed eagles. Hopefully soon we’ll be able to add the yellow footed rock wallabies to that list as they are clearly in good hands with the work being done by the volunteers of the Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby Preservation Association.
Jim & Michele

How group 2 conquered the Mt Caernavon track.
Members of the climbing party were … Intrepid leaders Pete & Lyn in a white Prado … Harry & Pam in a white Mitsubishi challenger … visitors Sue & Dave in a Bluey/grey Land Rover … with “tail end Charlie” actu-ally called Bruce & Paul in you guessed it … a white Rodeo.

We were all equipped with a comprehensive written guide provided by the Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby Preservation Association; Points of interest numbered 1 to 25 were described to match numbered posts along the way, with total kms 51.2. Brilliant idea (I thought) it made it easy to answer Harry’s many ques-tions that he didn’t hear from Pete’s excellent commentary (probably due to his passenger).

1st point of interest was at Minitinni Creek where the Yellow footed rock wallaby’s can often be spotted but today they decided they were not available for oooh’s and aaah’s.

We then passed a revegetation site for mulga where 800 seedlings were planted, a mammoth job in the hard rocky soil. Then came the instruction from our leader that 1st gear low range to be used from here on. Pam checked with Harry … A OK.

Continuing we then saw in the distance the remnants of Oraparrina Barytes mine established in 1920. What an effort they must have made.
Remains of the Tommy Gunyah decommissioned bore (due to high mineral/salt content) were next on the list. On we went past wonderful photo opportunities (which we took) to arrive at Murray Gully picnic rest ar-ea for morning tea where another object presented itself. The best constructed long drop toilet we had ever seen!!!!! (Thought was that Peake should get some plans). The girls were rapt as they didn’t have to check the bull bars.

On we trekked, more magnificent views then onto the big one, the one we had come for, the one our fear-less leader was leading us to …….Mt Caernavon.

The climb to the top certainly didn’t disappoint. The view was absolutely magnificent. We signed the “we have been here book” saying we had conquered the mountain, took photos, took more photos. Lyn and I took a “selfie”. Yahoo, will remember the wonderful views of the Bunkers Ranges, mountain peaks, gullies and distant plains, purple ranges topped with a blue sky and lovely company. How lucky are we????? Life can be really good.
Davey’s lookout was next where we could see Wilpena Pound etc. Specky.
Lunch at another well setup picnic area, hot soup yum yum then the downward descent began.

The track we continued on was established in 2013 to enable access to the Southern end of the Bunkers and to act as an emergency exit in case of fire (didn’t mention flood!!). Track was bull dozed 1 blade width into the side of mountain, very narrow, very steep, little bumpy and slippery, solid mountain wall on one side, couldn’t see the bottom on the other. I, for one, would not have liked to race a fire or anything else down this track.
Then we spotted group 1 in the distance (looking like ants) ascending a steep hill and that is when another wonderful discovery was made … ALL their vehicles were WHITE!!!!!!!!!!

Up more mountains, down more mountains, through creek beds we intrepidly followed our leader down to flatter ground and then Moxam’s Well sheep yards appeared, Boulder Bore (another decommissioned bore) and we were on our way back to camp.

Tricky little bull dust holes, many little wash away crossings kept the drivers on their toes … AND … then it happened … Harry made HIS great discovery for the day. HE HAD DRIVEN THE ENTIRE TRACK IN HI RANGE. Thus, he is now commonly known as “Hi Range Harry” or “Harry Hi Range”. I love it when he is only human. He did say that he had thoroughly enjoyed his day driving the track, best day he has had for a long while. Yahoo I thought we might go on these trips more often.

Harry’s assessment … all the drivers handled the track extremely well. No problems at all during the day. We girls thoroughly enjoyed our day. Paul a bit disappointed as no lollies were left on the gate posts – COME ON PEOPLE. Pam wanted Harry to drive the track again “in the right gear this time”. … 1st gear low ratio even though her old lady car was faultless in hi range. (Harry was particularly pleased with the way it performed).

Lovely day, lovely company, lovely camp hosts, lovely weather and lovely laughter all weekend.

Thank you Pete for your explanation of square leaves and above all
THANKYOU everyone for a great weekend.
Pam M


My First Time (4Wheel Driving)

What a nice bunch of people I had the pleasure of meeting at the Four Wheel Drive Club on the June long weekend! The campfire laughs were enjoyable to hear and made me feel at ease, relaxed and welcome. A few beverages helped the mood!

Being a visitor who was invited by Bruce, to experience the Mount Carnarvon track with all its challenges was quite exciting for me. As Bruce was “Tail End Charlie” I could see the experience of the leaders showing how it’s done. Bruce’s explanations were very helpful, enabling me to understand what goes into Four Wheel Driving.

The scenery was something quite spectacular! And a lot more special and beautiful from high on the track.

Thank you to all for warmly welcoming me. I had a very enjoyable time. I sure hope I can come along on another trip one day if Bruce can put up me, my snoring and wind dispersion!

Paul S