We left camp set up and headed out further along the Parachilna Gorge road to the little village of Blinman with it’s population of 16 (emus that is – we didn’t see any humans but they were likely there somewhere). We then headed down towards the national park through various sheep stations and past homesteads off in the distance. After a drive through the rock scenery we turned off to Wilpena where there is camping, visitor information, cafe and the resort. We were welcomed by a friendly family of black headed emus which captivated the boys. We went in and had a chat to Mick in the visitor information centre who loaded the boys up with maps of every national park in South Australia! Some of the longer walks were still closed but the main trail out to the original Hills Homestead and up to the Wilpena Pound lookouts was fine and we loaded up with water and some food and headed off. It was warm but only 30 degrees so we were pretty comfortable walking along.
We got out to the Hills Homestead which is the original house built for the first graziers and cropping farmers – the road they built in to Wilpena Pound was washed away in a huge downpour and they eventually abandoned the idea of serious farming out here. There’s some good information signs about their efforts in farming and their family story. Some of the equipment they used is still here. The Aboriginal story about the the area and its creation and use by the original people is also well told.
From the homestead it is a walk up to a lower and then an upper lookout which give a good perspective of the enormity of the Pound. The whole walk was reptile heaven! lizards and skinks- the highlight being some sort of brown snake working its way thru the rocks near the top lookout.
When it does pour rain you can understand the volume of water which would be captured and that then has to exit the Pound via the narrow creek and gorge we walked in along. The intensity is seen along the walk where a hot bushfire burnt down into the roots of many of the old gum trees and then a storm and subsequent flood effectively bulldozed all these trees – “over like bowling pins” was how one sign described it. The remnant is large tangled piles of dead trees. National parks have added many nest boxes along the walk attempting to attract wildlife back. One nest box providing an excellent home for the resident bees!
We walked back to the parks centre, found a tap to fill up some water and then hit the road back up towards Blinman. About halfway back, the road cuts across from here to the “Outback Highway” passing through Brachina Gorge. Wow! Absolutely spectacular drive winding through the different sections of gorge. Lots of different geology going on with different rocks in different patterns having been forced into vertical, diagonal and broken arrangements. Some sections are wide and vast, others narrow and steep. We only got out of the car once to see if we could spot the rock wallabies – but otherwise the whole area can be seen along an easy drive – sometimes slow in the rougher sections.