Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Mount Remarkable.Flinders Ranges.

A different part of the Flinders this time.The Central Region.
With a name like Mount Remarkable this was a mountain I had to climb and it was only a couple of hours drive from Whyalla.
South Australia is full of great names for natural features.On the local map there is a Mount Dangerous,Mount Lofty,Coward Springs,Iron Knob,Mount Eccles and even a Mount Buggery,this last not far from Wilpena Pound.
Some were named from the sea others from memorable land incidents presumably :o)
The first attempt to climb Mount Remarkable was in my sisters car.As usual it was clear and sunny in Whyalla but by the time we approached the Flinders rain and mist hung heavy over the peaks and we climbed steeply into a massive rain band that I knew from Scottish experience was on for the entire day.
Instead of the summit itself we therefore decided to head for Alligator gorge,a dramatic but more sheltered part of this sprawling mountain park.
Even in the heavy drizzle I could tell this was a special place.While my sister sat in the dry car reading magazines I belted down into the gorge and along to  the terraces....
where the walk continues up the stream bed though usually its not as wet as this.I climbed up the slopes confident no snakes would be out in this rain to the lookout platform high above the gorge.I even managed a section of the Heysen Trail as it goes over the summit down to here.
Despite the rain or because of it the place was heaving with wildlife and I spotted my first bee eaters,too fast moving for the camera,speedy little buggers,and just caught this roo family bouncing off....
When I returned it was with a slight regret as I knew this would be a  fabulous area in better weather.To her credit, although well bored with the empty car park by now my sister agreed to come back on a better day if she could borrow her daughter,s car (thanks Joanne) as her brakes had been heating up on the steep climbs and sudden drops into the mountains.
We were also concerned on this day about getting stranded as the one road in was slightly under water in a few places and it kept raining throughout  the day.
For the second trip she took a book and we headed for Melrose instead,a small pleasant country town nestling under the summit.This was more like it...Sunny with blue skies,no wind.A perfect day.
The path up, just outside the village at a monument,was well made on an easy gradient which was just as well as the slopes further up were pretty steep in places.
I made good time,the guide map said 5 hours up and back,through thick native trees and  sweet smelling scrub.
Ants were everywhere on this trail so I never entertained sitting down anywhere on the way up.Even standing in the one position was not an option for too long once they found you.The views were stunning with massive bright yellow fields of oil seed rape down below,called Canola here and in the USA.It felt very wizard of Oz.
Flying insects were everywhere too.The pretty  to look at and the quite frankly rather frightening but thankfully these kept their distance.Quite happy to get close to this one though.
There was a lot of rustling  of dry leaves on the path nearby as I approached but although I jumped on a couple of occasions it turned out mainly to be skinks.Large and small,The bigger ones showed no fear at all and stood their ground.
The whole mountain was alive with things bouncing, flying  hopping and crawling over it.Amazing and a wee bit scary at times.It was a hot day so snakes were on my mind probably me being  a  casual visitor here.
I heard and saw my first laughing Kookaburra and snapped it sitting on a branch above me.Like most Australian birds this is one tough cookie however as Ive read its diet consists mainly of  forest  grubs and centipedes,swooping down on them from its perch.
Given the size of the Australian bush centipede a battle between this,the largest of the kingfisher family, and one of these monsters must rank as one of the most gruesome sights in nature.There is probably good eating in a centipede but if the kookaburra  eats these it certainly earns its food the hard way!
This is a small one by the way, over six inches, they can grow larger than this.They  also have a poisonous bite which is supposed to be extraordinarily painful.I must admit seeing this put me off camping in the bush but I suppose you'd get used to things like this once you were here a while :o) !!!!!
Wouldn't fancy sharing a sleeping bag with one though.Now that would be scary!
Great views opened up as I entered a higher zone of boulder Fields not far from the summit ridge
From here it was a long slow push to the top.Although I wasn't tired here would be the place to sit down as no ants seemed to exist in the boulder landscape.
The summit was the only let down.I don't know what I expected from such a great walk up but it wasn't this.....
There was no view at all from the summit,only thick trees and bush all along the ridge line to the top.It had after all been named from sea level.A slight disappointment but the views going back down more than made up for it.
A cracking hill except for the last 300 feet.
My sister wasn't too bored when I returned and had been for a good stroll round the shops and  had a coffee.
To celebrate a great day out we went back to watch a DVD film ,the girl with the dragon tattoo(excellent)a carry out chicken and chips(very filling) and a cheeky wee bottle of Jacobs creek(,the local plonk.)
What an adventure!
And yet another dazzling Whyalla sunset.


Brian and Martina said...

Hi Bob,
Enjoyed reading of your adventures and the variety of scenery and wildlife you have captured is superb. Makes me want to head over there right now! What is this Heysen trail that you mention?


blueskyscotland said...

Howdy Brian and Martina.
Nice to hear from you.
The Heysen trail is 1200 klms.Starts off on the coast down past Adelaide,goes up through the Adelaide hills and the wine region then wanders along the spine of the Flinders ending at the Blinman district.It is closed in high summer but would be too warm then anyway.Most folk only walk it in sections as it would be hard getting water every day I,d imagine.
I,ll give you further details, maps etc if I see you so if your keen dont go before talking to me first.
Hope you are both enjoying yourselfs and still getting places.bob.

The Glebe Blog said...

Hi Bob,
Talking of strange town names,I remember taking a dip in the ocean at Humpybong over in Queensland.

Well done with the climb and the excellent pictures.I agree about the camping out though,Australia has a big share of small deadly creatures.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Jim.Having Some problems with the old computer at present.The wee hampster inside my grey pandora,s box in the corner is on one leg and a tail at the moment.Still got some great Oz names to come as next post about South Australia will be all about the coast.Bob.
Fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

Midges and clegs are pretty laughable really, when compared to the Antipodean horrorshow of lethal and totally bastard-ugly creepy crawlies.

I was camping in Japan (as you do) with a couple of mates; one morning we took the fly sheet of the tent and found a hand-sized yellow and black spider perched on the inner. Ever since then I've been unable to enter a tent without a cocked revolver in my hand.

Revolting and dangerous beasties aside, I have to say that the gorge looks like a wonderful spot. Being of a Scottish disposition, you're surely inured to the business of climbing mountains and not getting a view... until the advent of blueskyscotland TM, of course.