GAWLER RANGES TO PANDURRA STATION, WEST OF PORT AUGUSTA | 3 MONTHS AROUND OZ
We awoke at sunrise as usual and as I saw the pink and orange skies and dramatic clouds, I grabbed the bike and headed down the dirt road, with the kids following behind, to get a clear view of the sky. It was an incredible morning, so very peaceful and not another person around.
Riding back, I left my bike and headed out on the walk trail from Waganny campground. It was relatively suitable for mountain bikes so Charlie and Toby rode theirs whilst I ran alongside. My first chance for a jog. It was beautiful out there: a winding trail, easily found with markers out to one of the escarpments in the park, with 180 degree views back to the Ranges. The red granite out here is stunning.
A bit of whinging once Charlie had to leave his bike and climb the rocky outcrop, but I just try to just take it with a pinch of salt now. Why is that whinging voice so very grating? We ran downhill for a bit together and his mood perked up a bit, and even more so once we got back to his bike. It was downhill most of the way and he had a grand time.
Back at camp I cooked up a breakfast of champions - fried egg sarnies and hot chocolate. The kids went nuts on the bike for a bit, did some schoolwork and I had just started to relax into my chair when the heavens opened. Slowly at first and then more and more, a constant drizzle. Our companions on the other side of the campground had already left and I felt quite alone out there. Our plans had been to stay another night and explore the Ranges a bit more, but most of the tracks within the hills were 4WD tracks and lots of creek crossings (probably dry though) and rocky, rutted sections. Reading my Lonely Planet Australia book and I was itching to get going to all the places we had yet to see. I looked at Toby through the rain, ‘Shall we go?’. He answered in the affirmative - obviously he gets his decisiveness and spontaneity from me - and within half an hour we had everything packed up, albeit with wet tents in plastic bags, ready to dry out at the next spot.
Of course as soon as we got on the road again, the weather cleared somewhat but we were happy with our decision, and enjoyed the 4WD track out to Wudinna very much. Sand, corrugations, bit of boggy lake stuff, rutted gouged tracks….all just a little to boost the confidence a bit and hopefully stand me in good stead for the roads to come.
Past Wudinna, our goal of Kimba was approaching. This was the halfway point across Australia as the crow flies and we had awful Roadhouse food (never again) and took a photo at the Big Galah, because it’s there.
We decided to keep going as Port Augusta was in our sights. We had been told it was much like Ceduna, and not the best place to stay. Toby had googled ‘places to stay near Iron Knob’ and Nuttsbush Retreat (Pandurra Station) came up. A station on the outskirts of Port Augusta that looked fairly decent. We pulled in mid arvo and it looked amazing. A pool, recreation room, cute little camp kitchen dating back to the original property and great amenities. I thought it was a real find. Unfortunately the unpowered sites were right near the highway (although most sites were) and on sharp gravel. I used the footprint for my tent and an outdoor blanket under Toby’s to protect the tents a bit. It was a beautiful station, kept in the same family since 1895! The boys were straight in the pool, until they realised how freezing it was. I was sweaty and unshowered for 2 days so I jumped right in. I’m sure it was about the same temperature as some half frozen lake in Iceland, but whatever. Straight out again whilst the kids inched their way around letting out gasps and shrieks. Toby finally jumped in but Charlie wasn’t having a bar of it and only got up to his waist.
After our *refreshing* dip, we heated up soup in the camp kitchen. That’s all I could be bothered with. Some nights are just ‘soup out of a can’ nights, people.