After a quiet night at our secluded gorge campsite at Willow Waters we proceeded further north to the iconic Wilpena Pound area of the Flinders Ranges where the peaks reach over 1000m in altitude and feature some magnificent quartzite cliffs, our first views of these being the Elder Range to the west of the road.
A view of the Elder Range on the road from Hawker to Wilpena
Our first walk in the area was up to the Arkaroo Rock aboriginal art site – an easy 2 hour circuit. The art site lies on the outer edge of Wilpena Pound – a curious almost crater shaped formation in the Ikara – Flinders Ranges National Park. The Ikara part of the park’s name was added in 2016 which means meeting place in the local Adnyamthanha language.
A sign at the start of the walk features the folklore story of how the Wilpena Pound was formed and some interesting verse highlighting how aboriginals suffered when farming commenced in the area.
Walking up to the art site it was good to see some indigenous wildlife – a small perentie lizard
The art site itself is in a large wind scoured boulder. Unfortunately there is no explanation of what the symbols might mean, but we thought that some of them appeared to be depicting planes and rockets. Although the former Woomera Rocket testing range is about 500km to the north west, it is unlikely that this is linked to this art as some of it has been estimated to be about 8000 years old.
After Arkaroo Rock, we stopped for lunch and a selfie (the old fashioned type using the self timer not a stick) at the Rawson Bluff lookout before heading to our campsite for the next 3 nights at bush camp on the Willow Springs sheep station.
The Willow Springs Station has a beautiful piece of artwork at the gate built from old windmill blades.
After setting up camp at Willow Springs, we drove up to Stokes Lookout to watch the sunset. The lookout offers 360 degree views over the Chase Range to the east and over to Wilpena Pound in the west. It also features a 3D model of Wilpena pound showing its interesting crater-like shape.
The Chase Range (LHS) and Wilpena Pound and Model
As we had climbed St Mary’s Peak 10 years ago, we decided to visit another peak on Wilpena Pound with the awkward name of Mt Ohlssen-Bagge.
While we set off early to ensure we were not climbing in the heat of the day, it turned out to be pretty cold on top. It was a good thing we had the sleeping bag and air mattress to have a comfortable nap after brunch on the summit
After a final summit selfie we headed back down. I spotted a peregrine falcon on the way down as well as this beautiful dragon basking on a rock.
In contrast, as we got lower and the sun rose higher, warm blooded animals started to seek out the shade. Don’t you just hate flies up your nose when trying to get a rest? S