A Peak Experience

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One of the small towns I visited on Eyre Peninsula is Darke Peak.  The town, like many others, has been renamed from it’s original name.  In this case it was proclaimed Carappee (a place of water) in 1914, then in 1940 it was changed to Darke Peak after John Charles Darke, the first European who explored the area in 1844.

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Typical farming country, of sheep and cereal with the grain silos dominating the townscape.

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Well, apart from the Hotel.  At one time, it recorded the highest SA beer consumption per population ratio – aussies who take their beer drinking seriously!

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Not so serious, are the hi-jinks the locals have got up to……the first Hellbent hotel was talked of on New Years Eve 1979 so that the drinkers would have another place to go to once they were kicked out of the Pub at closing time…. and by daylight 1980 the first new hotel was finished.

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While planning the Legends Weekend for October 2009, it was decided to rebuild the Hellbent Hotel in honour of the occasion, and here it stands today.  A typical example of what a mob of blokes can get up to out bush 🙂

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The population of Darke Peak is about 50 people.

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A big attraction to the area is the highest point on Eyre Peninsula, Carappee Hill (495 metres) and Carappee Hill Conservation Park.  The Park also has a camping ground with bush trails and toilets.  Sadly, due to my four-legged mates, I can’t go to these places.

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It is a sealed road from the Birdseye Highway turnoff at Rudall, and past the township is a well maintained dirt road, with not too many corrugations – unlike some others we took!

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Fascinating fasciation

In a serendipitous manner I found this example of fasciation while out walking in the Flinders Ranges, with the main task of finding landscape shots.  What makes it truly amazing was that it followed shortly after this wonderful post by my friend Linda on her blog The Task at Hand. The plant is known as onion weed – an imported weed that is taking over the native pastures.  Still, in this instance it was worthy of a second look.

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In the twist, weather conditions weren’t favourable for the landscapes I was seeking although the walk was great.

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Taking the road less travelled

Here’s a selection of by-roads in the Flinders Ranges, SA.  I’m considering putting together some calendars of my travels, with different themes – this selection being The Road Less Travelled, as homage to the book of the same name.

Any feedback, most appreciated, especially any that you think don’t measure up 🙂

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They are numbered one to thirteen from top to bottom.  I’ll be back into the area again shortly and will be adding to my collection but needing to start shortlisting images. 🙂

Walking the Warren Gorge trail

In early August, Fred and I headed off on the well marked trail in the Flinders Ranges on a glorious day without rain or howling winds.  Such a relief!

The Warren Gorge is a fairly short drive from Quorn along a sealed road these days and is managed very nicely by the local council.  Fortunately it is also open to dogs.

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I’d been given the advice from regular visitors on the best direction to begin the walk – so that the steepest section was traversed downhill not uphill.  Very glad of that advice as at one point I met another couple who had climbed up the hard way and looked quite worn out with still a long distance to walk.

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At first I was concerned that it was going to be too hard or long for Fred with his little legs, but I needn’t have worried.  He took it all in his stride 🙂

Starting at the gorge and walking along the green valley I admired the lovely rock formations.

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See if you can spot the Kookaburra sitting in the gum tree

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Pools of spring water along the base of the gorge are a haven in this otherwise dry land.

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As the path slowly rose up the hillside, Grass Trees began appearing. Personal favourites of mine, and this specimen particularly caught my eye.  Extremely slow growing plants, this one could be close to 100 years old.  You have to respect that!

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This is the flower head of one, and it is very sweetly scented and the bees and the butterflies adore it.

The trail was gently shaded by the native pine trees, before opening out to grass tree hillsides.

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Another plant common to the arid areas, and not one to get too close too, is the Triodia grass, otherwise known as the porcupine grass – for obvious reasons!

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The slender leaves taper to a very very sharp point!

The path then took a sharp right hand turn and up the hillside we went, pausing now and then to admire the view (code for catching our breath).

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The silver leafed plants I know as Mulla Mullas, though which particular one I couldn’t say.  There are also other forms shaped more like Christmas trees.  Nice 🙂

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This colourful plant is the Native Hop Bush. I can remember seeing whole hillsides ablaze with these plants catching the afternoon sun, when I lived in this region years ago.

As we neared the summit, the vegetation changed again, to small gum trees.

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Soon we reached the summit, and more views.

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On the way down, going carefully because of the loose rocks, I was constantly stopping to admire the colours of them.  Nothing boring about rocks to me.

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Nor to the many geologists from all over the world who come to study this ancient landscape.

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Then after more than 5kms, we reached the bottom of the gorge again, and the cooling water which Fred really enjoyed.

I found the walk to be really enjoyable for several reasons.  Out walking with my buddy boy Fred 🙂 , being in the great outdoors in nice weather, and finding my old favourite plants again.  Long time ago, I lived and walked and rode my horse in the Australian bush, and these plants became my friends and each season I’d look forward to their blooms once more.  Now that I’m back in the Flinders Ranges, I’m remembering all manner of things, from the birds to the plants, to the people. It does feel like coming home………