I guess I should open this, Part 9, with a recollection correction. The desolate highway that I labelled as Flinders Ranges Way back in Part 7 turns out to be RM Williams Way (State Route B80). The last photo I took in Orroroo was at 11:10 am, and was taken with my smartphone, which had very thoughtfully adjusted the metadata to include the South Australian time for me as soon as I crossed the border near Renmark a few days earlier, and since I know from the math I did in Part 7 that it was 12:04 pm when I stood in the middle of that highway, I can safely say that I couldn’t have been anywhere else but 54 minutes up RM Williams Way from Orroroo. I still can’t tell from those two photos which direction I was going, but as soon as I can put a name to one of those hills I’ll have the solution. If I run out of patience on that front, I could always take Google’s Pegman for a walk out of Orroroo and see how long it takes to see through his eyes what I was seeing.
Here’s a cool satellite map of my Christmas Eve/Day route through the Flinders Ranges. The ranges themselves begin down at Port Pirie and continue northeast through Blinman and onwards until they peter out near a dry salt lake.
I took the Flinders Ranges on too quickly, and without any preparation. There is a large part of me that is longing to return there and see it properly. By the time I had reached Hawker, I had decided not to bother trying to take landscape photos with my SLR, since switching from my standard 18-55mm lens to my 75-300mm zoom lens every time a raptor came into range simply resulted in me slapping my forehead and going ‘damnit! Missed again.’ As a result, I found myself moving through the ranges much like a hunter; focused intently on capturing images of Wedge-tailed Eagles and Black Kites. When there were none of those about, I would have my smartphone camera on standby for the landscape shots.
I discovered this little Inukshuk in the shade of a tree at Hucks Lookout. I wrote a reflection upon it here, with a couple of alternate pictures.
There was also a fly communing with an otherwise lonesome purple flower of some sort.
Being well outside the spring flowering season, this was one of the only two flowers I saw that looked alive. There were clumps of these dry flowers about here and there; they looked like they would crumble to the touch, and I didn’t test them to see if I was right.
Against my better judgment, I decided to take Vincent through Parachilna Gorge from Blinman to Parachilna. The road was rough in parts but mostly traversable without difficulty. As majestic and awesome as it was, I felt a sense of fear at the possibility of getting stuck there overnight, so I didn’t stop once to soak it all up. I hung my camera out the window to snap a couple of mountain goats in passing, and that was it.
After popping out safely at Parachilna and back onto the relative safety of a paved highway, I returned to raptor hunting mode and finally achieved a few shots that made all the earlier frustrated attempts worthwhile. Mind you, it involved spotting a dead kangaroo a mile off, parking by the highway, and creeping up very, very slowly! These fellows are awfully skittish, and while they appear to glide casually and gracefully upwards in spirals, they make their getaway incredibly quickly.
With Christmas Day drawing to a close, I continued at a fairly non-stop pace back through Hawker and Quorn and into Port Augusta, where I figured I would find a resting place for the night, but nothing presented itself as particularly restful, and everything was closed. Even McDonald’s was closed! So I kept going and wound up driving into Port Bonython just before sunset, where I was treated to a whole new world of beauty.
After so many days of unrelenting blue sky and dust, it was a glorious thing to watch the cloud shadows drift over the hills in the sunset, and to hear the water gently lapping. This is where we parked for the night, and slept like a baby.