Wednesday, May 3, 2017

More SA National Parks

By Jen.
We went northeast from Mt Remarkable to the Flinders Ranges National Park. At this point, I have been a couple of weeks without a working phone and starting to get irritated at poor Jonathan when he gets absorbed in the internet on his phone, while I can’t do the same. Fortunately, Flinders Ranges NP has enough to keep me occupied. We spent 2 full days here fitting in as much as we could.

On the first hike of the first day, I realized pretty quickly that I had forgotten to put tape on my knee (I now only needed it on the back of my knee); but there was nothing to do about it until after the hike was over. However, during the hike, my knee didn’t hurt so I thought I would see how long it would go before it started hurting. So we went about the various hikes of the day, including the next hike through the Sacred Canyon, where aboriginal rock drawings could be spotted.

Arkaroo Rock. This half-eroded-out rock housed aboriginal paintings (shown below).


Aboriginal paintings.


In the Sacred Canyon, there were aboriginal rock carvings. Apparently the circle means spring or rockhole. The 3 lines in a bird-foot shape mean emu.

With our interest in technology, we also did the solar power station walk, where kangaroos were our companions. Apparently when it was installed it was the largest solar power system in Australia.


Then to finish the day, we walked to the Wilpena Pound lookout. Emus led the way on this track. The pound is this bowl-like valley surrounded by high hills with only one entrance through the nearly unpassable gorge. Aboriginals considered it special, but early white settlers thought it looked like a great corral (pound) to house large flocks. I think they had 120,000 sheep in there at one point, which ended up with it being overwhelmed and the flocks dying by the tens of thousands.


The next morning we decided to do a longer hike to the top of St Mary. The views were good, but once we got onto the mountain proper, we and several other parties lost the path. Apparently the path had done a sudden switchback that we hadn’t noticed and we had continued following along old paths, but could not see the telltale trail markers. Debating on which method was best, we finally decided to walk back along the path until we found the last trail marker. Upon finding, we (by “we” I mean “I”, as I stood in my bright orange shir loudly and humorously calling people to me while Jonathan walked ahead without me) shouted to the others and redirected the masses back along the correct path. From here, the path became exceedingly more steep with increasing rock scrambles. By the time we got to the saddle, we decided we had seen enough (views from the top weren’t going to make anything else visible), so we headed back down so that we could start our journey towards the Eyre Peninsula.

That peak is St Mary.


An example of some of the rocks we had to scramble up. As you can see, the rock closest to the camera is nearly as tall as me.

Throughout this walk, I kept a close watch on my knee. I hadn’t taped it since all the walks the day before hadn’t bothered it. During each step, my hopes grew stronger and yet more cautious that I would make the entire walk without my knee hurting. Sure enough! There was no pain AT ALL during the entire walk! I was very excited. I won’t claim it is healed to 100%, but this was a major milestone. A month or so ago, frustrated that my knee was getting worse (cramping pain every time I took a stair step up or down), I noticed that the muscles in my right knee were drastically smaller than those in my left knee. Besides being less used, I realized that it was because during our walks, I would time my steps so that my left knee would be the one to take the step up or down, to save my right knee from pain. I knew that if I was ever going to fully recover, I needed my right knee to be the same size as my left knee, so I started consciously using my right leg to step up or down (despite the pain) and increased my right-leg exercises for up and down motions. I believe this painless walk was a result of that training, combined with having completed several “no-incline” walks recently, in addition to not spending long hours in a seat without stretching (like when driving or working). Forgive me for taking blog space from our pretty travels to mention this, but I wanted to celebrate with everyone. I also know not to think that my knee issues are over (spoiler alert: about a week later I did a micro hike and felt that recently familiar knee cramping again), just celebrating my current progress.

We stopped at a Hungry Jack for dinner. This is Australia’s Burger King. I think McDonald’s came here first and licensed the name Burger King so the company had to choose a different name when it crossed the sea. I can’t compare it to a USA BK, though, because I haven’t eaten at one in about 20+ years. I don’t think Jonathan has done so since we started dating, so that is about 10 years for him. The food was tasty and I took some pictures for you to enjoy.

The next major stop was visiting koalas. Thanks to a WikiCamps tip, we found a four of them out in the boonies where there weren’t other tourist hordes to fight over best picture locations. Aren’t they just adorable?!

Sunset on the first night on the Eyre Peninsula.




From there, it was onward to Coffin Bay National Park, which we mostly just drove through on our way back up the peninsula to start our trip across the Nullarbor.


This is Anxious Bay along the Great Ocean Tourist Drive (not to be confused with the Great Ocean Road).

I shouldn’t forget to mention Point Labett Conservation Park, where we got see Australian sea lions and New Zealand fur seals.
Nursing mom and pup. Australian sea lions.

New Zealand fur seals.


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