Day 6 - Wilpena Pound to Parachilna - 76kms
Last night, after dinner two brothers invited me to join them around their campfire. I had met them earlier on in the day during the walk up to St Mary's. They are from Adelaide and it was nice to have a chat around the campfire. Didn't get to bed until about 11pm.
This morning the sun is back and I followed the Mawson Trail. The first 5kms of the ride was a little rough, but the scenery was fantastic. I was really close to the ranges and kept stopping for photos every 200m. After the first 5kms I joined the fire trail. The road surface was a lot easier and I joined the Bunyeroo Road.
There was a really steep climb up to the lookout. I had to get off and push the bike up a short section. When I got to the lookout there was a couple who had saw me climb up and they offered me a nice cool soft drink. I of course accepted their kind offer. The drink was so refreshing. I then enjoyed the views across the ranges before continuing my ride.
About 15kms later I joined the Brachina Gorge road. I had a couple of options. Option 1 was to stay on the Mawson Trail and head for Blinman. Option 2 was to go through Brachina Gorge and head for Parachilna. I decided on Option 2.
As I entered Brachina Gorge the road began to follow the dry creek bed. The gorge was very long. There was a lot of information about the geology through this area. Parts of the gorge were form about ½ a billon years ago. So it is pretty old!
It was a very stunning gorge with the amazing reds showing in the sandstone in the afternoon sun. I even spotted some yellow tailed wallabies.
When I got to the other end of the gorge the road entered this vast flat plan. Generally the surface was pretty smooth, occasionally there was a bit of corrugation but I was always able to find a smooth section. About 10kms after leaving the gorge I rejoined the bitumen and headed north to Parachilna. It was only another 20kms away and took about an hour to get here.
Parachilna was a small town on the old Ghan rail line. When the line was rerouted in 1980 the town shrunk. All that is left is the old pub. This is where I'm camping tonight. Today has been a fantastic riding day. Great weather, beautiful scenery and really nice people along the way. Tomorrow I'm heading east to Blinman via Blinman Pools where I'm planning on doing another walk.
Day 7 - Parachilna to Blinman - 37kms
Whilst I was making breakfast I was chatting to a tour guide who has been driving a group of tourists around Australia. She said they have done over 7000km so far. Started in Melbourne, then travelled up the east coast to Cairns then came across via Alice Springs and now heading to Adelaide today. She was joking that she thinks they've seen every roadhouse along the way!
After breakfast I headed back east towards Blinman. I was originally going to go to Blinman Pools, but it is a 4 hour walk and I really want to see the mine in Blinman. Their last tour for the day is at 2pm. So I don't have time for both.
Instead I stopped at the start of the walk to the pools and only walked about halfway. The walk went along a dried creek bed. A very pleasant walk. I got back to the bike at about 12pm. It was only another 15kms to Blinman, but it was uphill and getting quite warm. I got to Blinman at about 1.40pm.
Blinman was a mining town, but the mine has long since shut and now has a small population of 17 people. The town has worked together to open the old mine to tourists. I joined the 2pm tour and rode out to the mine to meet our tour guide. The tour was extremely informative. They used to mine copper but it was very uneconomical as they had to cart it all the way to Port Augusta. The people who worked in the mine were mostly from Cornwall, England, as they had many years of experience in mining.
After the informative tour I went to the Blinman Hotel to get a camp spot. They said they were full. I had a look at the camping area and it didn't look very full! Ah well if they don't want my $$$ I headed about 6kms out of town to Alpana Station. Very happy that I did. They were so much more welcoming. I even have my own ensuite shower.
This evening I have a nice camp spot all to myself looking out over the Flinders. Tomorrow I will be heading to Mount Chambers Gorge. On my way to Arkaroola.
Day 8 - Blinman to bush camp (90km from Blinman) - 90kms
What a peaceful night I had last night. Alpana Station is certainly a great place to stop over. The hosts are very friendly, nice camping area and good facilities. Today I woke up to it being very windy outside the tent. There is meant to be some rain for a little while this morning.
I set off at about 8.30am. The wind should be mostly a tailwind. Five minutes after I had left it began to rain. So out came the rain jacket which remained on for the rest of the day.
The first 30kms were mostly downhill. Then it was relatively flat for the rest of the way. It kept raining on and off throughout the morning. With the great tailwind I got to the turnoff for Mount Chambers Gorge at around 11,30am. But this is where the fun began.
Just when I took the turnoff for the gorge my bike got stuck. I looked at the wheels and because of the rain the road into the gorge had turned into a a sticky mud. I tried to get a little further, but no joy. I wasn't keen on pushing the bike any further, as it was still another 9kms to the gorge. I was disappointed, as I was really looking forward to seeing the gorge. Time for plan B.
With a great tailwind and it was still only 12pm I decided to knock over a few more kms. Will mean a shorter riding day tomorrow. The rain kept coming across in waves, never heavy, just annoying. I continued until I got to the T junction, where I turned left heading towards Arkaroola.
It was around about 2.30pm and the rain started to get heavy. The road turned to sticky mud again. I began to look for a bush camp. The land here is very exposed so I looked for a tree line near a creek. A couple of kms later I found a spot about 100m from the road. Unfortunately this is cattle country, which equals lots of flies. Once I got my flynet on I was able to put the tent up.
There are a couple of things I like about my tent. When it is raining I can put the outside layer on first. This ensures the inside of the tent does not get wet, thus I have a lovely dry area. The second thing I like about my tent is that it is designed for two people. So I have plenty of space to move around inside. Which is what I needed for the rest of the afternoon.
Around 4.30pm it stopped raining. I went outside and could see the blue sky in the distance quickly heading my way. Today really did not go as planned. But I am closer to my destination for tomorrow. As long as it doesn't rain overnight the roads will hopefully have a bit of time to dry out.