Planes, Rockets, Pounds and Peaks

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.

rawnsley bluff lookout
Rawson Peak, on the southern edge of Wilpena Pound
hucks look out to wilpena
View of Wilpena Pound from Huck’s Lookout.   The high point in the middle is St Mary’s Peak which we climbed at our last visit on New Year’s Day 2009.

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

Steve all set up and ready for moring tea
Summit brunch overlooking Wilpena Pound.  The Elder Range is in the distance
ohlssen bagge summit panorama
Panorama from the summit of Mt Ohlssen-Bagge looking into Wilpena Pound. The peak on the extreme right of the photo is St Mary’s Peak – the highest in the Flinders Ranges which we climbed on 1 Jan 2009
wilpena panorama 2008
This is the 2009 panorama from St Mary’s peak.  Mt Ohlssen-Bagge is the rounded bump on the left
wilpena pound from the air
Here is another view of Wilpena Pound taken from the east probably using one of the planes or rockets depicted on Arkaroo Rock.    St Mary’s peak is just to right of centre,  Rawnsley Bluff is the lit up cliff on the right facing the camera.  Ohlssen-Bagge is the third bump from the right behind Rawnsley Bluff

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

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