After tackling the flooded creek next to our camp at Spear Creek we managed to make it out in one piece. We then continued our journey around the Flinders Ranges north to Wilpena Pound. As we drove along the main road through Quorn and Hawker, it became obvious that the storm we had experienced was far worse the further north we travelled.
The main highway was cut in many places by swollen creeks forging new paths across the road. Just about every Ford was covered in either water or debris from where floods had come rushing past. Thankfully all roads were open, so we made it to Hawker for a lunch before pulling into Wilpena Pound.
Me and the kids at Wilpena Pound. Photo: David Leslie
Bushwalking at Wilpena Pound
The main creek running through the pound entrance and next to the campground was full and flowing quickly. Only one of the access points to the campsites was open as the other was underwater. The dirt roads around the area were closed, and there was mud everywhere. After chatting to some other campers we found that the entire place was underwater during the storm. Everyone had wet tents and bedding hanging out to dry in the sun.
With the roads closed the only option was to go bushwalking, which isn’t a bad choice when you’re in the bushwalking capital of the Flinders Ranges! Although most of the walks were closed due to flooding as well.
We crossed the creek to explore a little further Photo: David Leslie
Wandering along the vehicle access track
We decided to wander along the vehicle access track that leads you into the pound itself. Most of the longer walks branch off from this track. There is a shuttle bus that will take you to the trail heads of the majority of walks that lead into the heart of the pound.
The shuttle bus wasn’t operating in the muddy conditions but the path was still quite picturesque, especially for the kids. Just over halfway, we needed to cross the main creek, so it was off with the shoes and into the very cold water to get to the other side.
Once at the end of the path, we enjoyed a snack and a look around. We then explored the local area further and found a beautiful little waterfall amongst more flowers.
A family of emus wandering around. Photo: David Leslie
Back at camp, the afternoon provided the opportunity to get cleaned up and have some fun around the campfire. The Wilpena Pound Campground has good showers and toilets, and whilst very populated, the sites are spread out so you can find your own spot in relative peace.
Apart from kids riding their bikes, you may be disturbed by the odd family of Emus. These animals have gotten very used to visitors, so they have no shame in wandering through your camp. This can give you quite the surprise if you haven’t seen them coming!
Our caravan set up at the Wilpena Pound Campground. Photo: David Leslie
Visiting Sacred Canyon
I’ve been to Wilpena Pound many times but have never visited Sacred Canyon. But with reports showing this as one of the only roads now open we decided to check it out. The drive out again showed signs of the heavy rains with about 20 creek crossings to be negotiated. The road was open to 4WD’s only, but it didn’t require anything more than slowing down to avoid a rough ride.
Once at the car park, Sacred Canyon is just a short walk up the creek. It’s incredible how quickly the creek narrows as the walls steepen. You find yourself scrambling up rocky ledges trying not to get your feet wet. The walk finished at a stunning spot that like an amphitheatre, with a trickle of water making its way down a waterslide carved into the rock.
On the surrounding walls, Aboriginal rock art can be seen which reminded us of how special and ancient this place was. This provided not just a great morning of exploration, but some valuable education for the kids.
Sacred Canyon is a special place to visit if you’re in the Flinders Ranges. Photo: David Leslie
Leaving Sacred Canyon we decided to check out Brachina Gorge. But unfortunately, the road closed signs were still up, so we continued north to Blinman. It was getting close to lunchtime, so we found a nice scenic loop through Glass Gorge to take us into Parachilna Gorge and then return to Blinman.
Glass Gorge is not the narrow steep-edged canyon that we had experienced elsewhere, but it really was a beautiful drive. There were plenty of creek crossings to get the 4WD tyres wet and lots of flowers to brighten the drive. We stopped for lunch next to a creek where our girls whipped off their shoes and played in the water. With the sun shining it was actually quite warm. We could have stayed all afternoon exploring the rock pools and cooling off in the creek.
We continued along the track as it wound its way west and then south back towards Parachilna Gorge. There was plenty of evidence that a few days earlier this track would have been impassable even to 4WD’s. The debris along the road and the ruts cutting across the road were signs of a lot of water flowing down the track.
We continued back towards Parachilna Gorge in the Patrol. Photo: David Leslie
After rounding a corner we were faced with the longest and deepest crossing so far. Parachilna Gorge was flowing nicely and whilst not deep enough to lock the hubs, it was quite endearing to cross so much water in what is normally a dry part of the country. It also gave my wife an opportunity to test out her 4wd skills so I could get some photos.
We followed Parachilna Gorge back to Blinman, and then back to camp at Wilpena. When we arrived we had just enough time to clean up before treating ourselves to dinner at the resort’s restaurant.
There was so much water, it’s lucky we were able to cross in our 4WD. Photo: David Leslie
Exploring Wilpena Pound
Wilpena Pound and the surrounding areas would need weeks to explore properly. With so much of the park off-limits because of the rains, and with small kids in tow we could only scratch the surface of what this beautiful place has to offer. Having said that, it’s the perfect place to bring the kids, especially because of the beautiful scenery.
There is something for everyone to enjoy in this region. The Flinders Ranges should be on any nature lover’s bucket list – no matter where you are based in Australia.
Catch the first part of the series here, if you missed it.
In Part 3 of this Flinders Ranges series, we get up close and personal with the Pichi Richi railway, get smashed by another big storm and, finally, hubs are locked in as we tackle the tallest point south of St Mary’s Peak at Argadells!
About the writer...
G’day! My name is Dave and there is nothing I enjoy more than getting out in the bush and enjoying the challenge and serenity of travelling around this beautiful country of ours.
After 6 years working as an Outdoor Ed Instructor, I’ve joined the team down at Snowys to help others get geared up and head to the outback!
As an enthusiastic photographer and freelance writer for 4WD Action magazine, I love to get out and capture God’s stunning creation and share it with the world.
After getting married at the end of 2010 and having our first child January 2012, I’m looking forward to seeing more of this beautiful country with my family.