That isn’t a satelite shot of the surface of Mars, that would be a view of the Flinders Ranges and surrounding flats. The white areas are massive salt flats (something I’d visit later), but today it was all about Flinders.
The Flinders Ranges are some pretty ancient mountains (at least 550 million years old), which are considerably older than some of the ranges many North Americans believe to be the oldest in the world (the Great Smoky Range and Appalachians being two that are mistakenly believed to be oldest…they are babies still compared with Western Australia and a few others spots!) and that means they’ve been weathered and eroded quite a bit. But at the same time, it also means that they have seen a great deal of time…including some incredibly old fossil life. Specifically, there have been fossils found in the Flinders Ranges dating back at least 550+ Million years ago, before the Ranges folded and rose from the sea floor. They are amongst the oldest vertebrate fossils found on earth so far. Indeed, this place is *ancient*.
I specifically had booked a tour going from Adelaide to Alice Springs that would encompass this region (it is often skipped), and we would be spending a full day exploring some of the history hidden here.
First up on a glorious sunny morning was a hike to Arkaroo Rock, a spot with some great scenery and Aboriginal Paintings.
Surprised to see the greenery? I was, as were most people. We were picturing a completely inhospitable environment. Still, the ground was parched and the trees pretty darn tough – this is not an easy place to live, despite how it might look.
Our destination on this hike were the Aboriginal cave paintings of Arkaroo Rock. It is estimated that these paintings are about 5,000 years old. I’ll talk more about Aboriginal Culture and history more as I move to the Red Center, but to give you an idea – these are relatively new paintings, on the Aboriginal scale of time.
From there we continued on our hike, which was a nice easy loop track. We got views of the outside ridge of Wilpena Pound, which we would be climbing shortly.
After a bus ride, some lunch and water and splitting the group between those that wished to have an easier hike and those that wanted a grueling one (guess which one I chose? Eagerly, I might add…), our several hour hike commenced. Despite the bright sun and harsh looking landscape, the heat wasn’t overly bad. This is still winter, so temperatures were actually excellent for hiking. It was probably 15-20C, at most. With the sun beating down on you while you hiked an incline, a good sweat still happened, but you cooled off quickly upon stopping.
This was part of the view we had climbed to see. Wilpena Pound.
Looking down the outside of the ridge, you get a good view of the surrounding area. It’s not entirely flat, more slightly rolling landscape.
Mt. Ohlssen Bagge (pronounced as you would Baggy), our desired peak and resting spot, as well as a good photo opportunity.
The view of the Wilpena Pound, the main tourist attraction of the Flinders Ranges.
Do you think, from a scenic standpoint, that picture is a little…underwhelming? Well, I did, and I was the one holding the camera. And this wasn’t a case of the camera not being able to truly capture the grand scale of a place or something (this will be a problem later on). The view from the top looking inwards at the Wilpena Pound was merely…okay.
While others relaxed in the sun, took photos of the inside of the pound or simply regained their breath, I continued walking along the top of the ridge. And to me, came to a much more striking spot. Suggestions to the others to walk 5 minutes further mostly fell on deaf ears.
Still, don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice spot. This was the view outward from the Pound, while we were relaxing.
This was the ridge-line that we had climbed up to get to our peak. Somewhere far down there, the other group of people were enjoying their slightly more relaxing hike.
One final view of the entire Wilpena Pound. It IS big, no doubt. When standing there it gives the impression of a massive crater, either volcanic or meteoric formed. It is neither, simply being a geologically created amphitheater.
We began our hike down, which would take nearly as long as the ascent, with some tricky and steep footing sections. I decided to be the caboose for this portion of the trip, stopping to take more photos along the way.
One final view, coming down off the ridges, of the beautiful day and surrounding area. The outer portions were my favourite of the hike, especially because they did an excellent job of showing off more of the red rock.
A full day of hiking complete, we retired back to Quorn for another pub night and some fun and games back at the hostel. We pitted 2 teams against each other in amusing party games. It turned out I was quite good at certain events, such as picking up penne pasta with a piece of spaghetti in my mouth, and moving an Oreo from my eye to my mouth without using my hands (me, good at eating cookies?!). A fun night, but also an early one, as the next day held an early, and very peculiar, morning for a few of us.