The fire crackles and the air is still. I’m wearing two layers as opposed to three, but the hot water bottle still radiates away under our covers. Oh how I’m longing for warmth and I think it’s finally coming… layer by layer.
From cool coastlines to the deep centre. The soil beneath our toes has transformed from an earthy brown to a rich, red sand. The Australian Outback.
We’re coastal babies by nature and the harsh conditions of these lands are something quite foreign. We’re used to thick moisture in the air, endless rainfall, thunderstorms, flowing creeks and rivers and greenery. The dry air, arid landscape and sweeping winds are very different, but oh, isn’t it beautiful.
Our first dance with the outback was the Flinders Ranges. A destination on Ben’s list since he was a little boy, we were eager to get a taste of this phenomenal piece of Australia. These mountains were unlike anything we’ve ever seen. So defined and so rich in colour, structure, presence… we felt for a moment we were in the deep hills of California and far from home – but here we were, on ancient and sacred land standing so proudly in South Australia.
We spent four days and three nights in the Ranges – nestled in among clusters of families and friends making the most of the long weekend at Wilpena Pound. The region had just seen its first rain in 15 months and the parched earth had received a small boost of hydration – so the tracks were closed to let the roads recover from the rare bout of weather they had endured.
As we waited for the roads to dry, we explored natural habitats and marveled at indigenous paintings on ancient rocks. – stories spanning thousands of years still preserved for us to see and decipher. Our mouths dropped as we turned our heads from left to right – something new to discover at every glance. A special place with a sacred history and something we’ve never seen in the flesh. The markings told a story we could only imagine – but their existence tells the story of another world – long before our time – and of lands worth preserving forevermore.
We climbed St Mary’s Peak – the highest point in the Ranges – and breathed in the cool, fresh air as we poured our eyes over the endless hills and mountain peaks, valleys, and desert. This was a spectacle worth climbing for. The 14.6km round journey was tough – a steep climb up a cliff face and scrambling over uneven rock. The wind was piercing and cold at the top, but the views were unparalleled and unmatched. Certainly, our hardest climb, but the closest we could get to seeing the Ranges in their entirety – without taking to the skies. One piece of advice for those reading – the views from the saddle are just as good as the peak – save your energy and stop there.
When the time was right, we moved from two feet to four wheels and danced about the Bunyeroo Track in 4wd. The dirt road wound its way through the glory of the Flinders Ranges – exposing extravagant cliffs and peaks, forests and gorges. We spent the entire day moving through this exceptional part of the world – even enjoying rare species of wildlife in their natural habitat – and shaking our heads in sheer disbelief of the bold beauty of a place that’s millions of years in the making.
The Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is an extremely moving spectacle we could have never imagined and no photo, video or tourist brochure can ever share its true beauty. This place is just as much about the feeling in your soul when you enter this magical world – as it is the images captured in your mind. It was hard to leave this place.
Moving forward in our journey, and we began to snake our way north-west. As we left mountainous landscapes and ancient earth behind, we welcomed true outback territory. Flat, arid country and endless roads with no turns, no hills and no traffic. Endless outback highway and a new adventure rumbles…
A lover of the written word.
Journalist by trade, writer by hobby. Writing fuels my soul and I promised myself I’d string words together more often, so here I am.
A collection of pieces that describe the inner workings of my mind.