Aroona Valley

After a couple of days in the Wilpena Pound area, we headed to the northern end of the Ikara – Flinders Ranges National Park camping at the head of the scenic Aroona valley.     In the mid 1800’s an English pastoralist named John Hayward set up a sheep run here after arriving in the colony with 40 pounds in his pocket.   After 11 very successful years, he sold up and returned to England in 1862 having made a fortune of 40,000 pounds.    His timing was perfect, because soon after he left the great drought of 1865 set in which sent most of the early pastoralists to bankruptcy and by the 1880’s the once luxurious homestead which featured running water from a nearby spring had been reduced to ruins.

Steve lowering tire pressure
We were going to be on dirt for the next few days, so we let the tyres down to smooth out the corrugations and reduce risk of tyre damage before heading out to Aroona.  Unfortunately we failed to notice that the window above my head was open a crack, so when we got to Aroona there was a film of dust on everything.

Arroona sign

a spring coming out of the ground at Aroona homestead
One of the springs near the former homestead.    The other main spring has now been tapped and supplies the camping area in the valley below.   It was quite a surprise to find campsites in the bush with taps scattered here and there providing potable water
aroona panorama
Panorama from the site of Hayward’s former homestead with the Hayward Range to the right

About half a century after Hayward’s run was abandoned a smaller pug and pine hut was erected in the valley as an outstation which can still be seen on the left in the view above.    The famous landscape painter Hans Heysen used to base himself there to paint and get inspiration for his works.    The photo of the information board below shows one of his paintings called the three sisters.   Underneath is a photo taken from roughly the same location.

hans heysen spielthe 3 sisters of Aroona

That night a southerly change came through, so although we planned a 4 hour walk the next day, it was not necessary to get up with the galahs – although I did briefly go out to get a shot of the sun rising on the Hayward Range.

hayward range morning panorama

After leisurely start, we set off on the Yuluna circuit walk – a pleasant varied track through a gorge, native pine forests and ultimately to a lookout where Hans Heysen is said to have spent many evenings with his favourite brew.

yellow foot rock wallaby cluster
A cluster of yellow footed rock wallabies in Yuluna Gorge
yuluna walk in gorge
Gorgeous Gorge Girl
after the rains
Just 5 days after receiving 30mm of rain, even the kangaroo droppings are starting to germinate
soil erosion
Native pine trees with erosion gullies caused by decades of degradation due to overstocking, then rabbits, now goats etc.
Yaloona hike tea stop
Although only 500m above sea level, the cold front meant the air bed and sleeping bag was again needed.

Yaloona hike

rippled rock yaloona hike
600 million year old ripples on the sea bed – yes even then corrugations were part of life in the outback.
vermin proof fence
An old vermin proof fence – one of many futile attempts to stop the spread of rabbits.
heysens beer spot
Heysen’s viewpoint where he used to enjoy a beer “of an evening”.   The three sisters of the ABC range on the left and the Hayward range on the right.  The high peak in the distance left of centre is St Mary’s Peak: the highest peak in the Flinders Ranges
neapolitan sands
Multicoloured soil caused by different layers of silt laid down between about 550 and 590 million years ago that have now been tilted up to reveal the various layers.



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