Arkaroola/Willow Springs

sa_on_patrol
Been here a while
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Joined: December 18th, 2007, 9:25 pm
Location: Mount Barker, SA

Arkaroola/Willow Springs

Unread post by sa_on_patrol » July 18th, 2012, 11:00 pm

G’day all,

Well it’s been a few weeks since I've been back from our week long trip to Arkaroola and Willow Springs. I thought I’d post up a little trip report and some photos.

We departed Mt Barker around 0545 on a wet and miserable Saturday morning, arriving at my folks place around 0620 for a quick toilet stop for the kids and say g’day to Dad, Mum, my brother and his two boys. It was the first time my little nephews were going ‘real’ camping. We were all eager to hit the road.

We took the main highway to Pt Wakefield and through Stirling North. If anyone knows the road from Stirling North to Quorn, it is a very picturesque drive through the valleys where the Pichi Richi Railway is located. The Pichi Richi was running this morning and we were lucky enough to see it chugging through the hills with plenty of passengers on board.

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Heading past Quorn the clouds disappeared and this was the last sighting until Thursday. A quick fuel stop to top up the tank at Hawker and grab an Iced Coffee. The car was running real well, consuming 15.2L/100km. I was happy with that considering we had a full camper trailer in tow. Out onto the highway again, driving along the 20km straight we noticed there were plenty of 4WD’s heading south.

We had decided to stop off at the Prairie Hotel for a bite to eat, not realising that the Prairie was full of people and their 4WD’s. The majority of the folk were coming back from the Annual Alice Springs Camel Cup. We were hoping for an Emu burger or Camel Pie but the Hotel does not sell these anymore due to the lack of flightless birds and the culling of the camel.

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Back on the road and we headed past Leigh Creek and Copley only stopping to let some air out of the tyres just after the blacktop finished. The Copley to Arkaroola road was in great condition, making the trip very comfortable. The only stop we had was to collect some firewood for camp that night.

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Arriving at Arkaroola a lot later than we had anticipated, we decided to make the first camping spot an easy entry for my nephews and parents (who hadn’t been camping in about 20 years). We chose to have an unpowered site in the caravan park. The sun was setting while putting up the camper trailers, Mum was getting dinner ready, dinner had been organised to be easy and quick… BBQ Chooks and Salad and the kids were running around letting all that stored up energy out from the long trip.

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It was a cool first night getting down to about 5c but a few glasses of Port and nice fat cigar put that to the back of our minds as we sat back and enjoyed the camp and the million star view.

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Waking up the next morning to a very frosty and icy camp ground was quite a sight. One of the glasses of water we left out had frozen…. Brrrrrrr! A quick breakfast of cereal and toast saw us on the tracks to visit a few places around Arkaroola. We took the easy road to visit the Pinnacles, Bollaballana Copper Smelter which was established in the 1870’s and the magnificent Nooldoonooldoona Waterhole.

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Once back at camp, the camp oven came out to put on some damper. After 15min in the camp oven it was ready. With a big spread of butter on the warm bread, it went down a treat with everyone wanting more. It was the first time my nephews had tried damper, I think I got them hooked. It was a great appetiser for our chicken curry and rice.

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The next morning rising to even more frost, we had a quick chat to the local caretaker and he informed us it dropped to -4c early in the morning. This was the coldest morning most of us had experienced while camping for a long time. Today we chose to tackle the Mt Jacobs Backtrack, which is a no cost track that lasts about 3-4hrs, depending on how many stops you take. It has some great tracks which consisted of narrow sections, steep and mogul like ascents, off camber creek crossings and stunning views of the rugged hills of Arkaroola. Well worth the afternoon drive! What a way to spend the last day in the northern Flinders Ranges.

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Wednesday morning saw us rising early and packing up camp. We departed around 1030, on our way to Willow Springs via a stop off at Blinman. The track was very dry and dusty but in pretty good condition. Driving into Blinman was an eye opener, the streets were packed with cars, campers, cyclist and the odd 4WD. That bitumen road must have something to do with the crowds.

Heading towards Willow Springs we saw a lot more kangaroos, emus and wedge tails. On arrival we spoke to Carmel and checked into camp #5. It was a great spot, beside the creek and in a valley of several small hills. As soon as we stopped the kids were out and about climbing the hills and trees. After setting up we relaxed by the campfire with a beer or three. It was another great night around the campfire.

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After a big pancake breakfast we climbed into the cars. Thursday was the day we tackled Skytrek. We started at 0940 from the first marker, winding our way through the creeks and foothills, taking in the great country side. We all found the trek notes very informative. Passing the original Moxans Hut, the country side opened up and we could see The Bunkers Conservation Reserve and Mount Caernarvon in the distance to the west and the Little Bunkers to the east. Taking the new track east towards the Little Bunkers saw us driving past car size boulders that had fallen from the tops of the ranges. We were warned about the amount of bulldust on the new track and soon found out that there was a huge amount to wrestle. The later part of Skytrek was the most enjoyable for all of us. This is where the flat plains disappear and the rugged hills begin. The rocky track climbed quite steep at one point while weaving our way in and around the native pines, for me this was the highlight of the track. The views from the top were awesome! We continued to traverse the troughs and peaks until we finished at the southern side of the Willow Springs homestead. All up it took 6hrs 35min to complete, a fantastic day out.

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Friday was a day of relaxation, nothing planned. During the day we took a walk up several hills, sat around chatting about the previous few days and watched the kids playing in the creek. In the afternoon I made a beef stew and another damper to go with it….Yum! Our last night was a beauty, clear skies, big fire and a couple of beverages.

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As we woke to a cool morning we were all disappointed that this great Flinders Ranges trip was coming to an end. It just means we’ll have to do it again sometime soon. With everything packed up we departed Willow Springs around 1000.

I hope you enjoy reading this trip report.
Cheers
Scott
1999 2.8 GU, 3" exhaust, 2" Dobinson lift, Donator Chip, RedArc Dual Battery System, Cargo Barrier, Airtech Snorkel, Smart Bar, Nite Hawk Lights, 265/75R16 D694LT's.
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80Butts
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Joined: October 18th, 2008, 8:21 am
Location: Adelaide SA

Re: Arkaroola/Willow Springs

Unread post by 80Butts » July 19th, 2012, 3:40 am

great report, fantastic pics. Been to about all of those spots and cant wait to get back there. last time I was at that waterhole in Arkaroola there was a dead roo floating in near that big boulder.
Looks like you had the same camp spot at willow springs as we had too. was a while ago we went last but you never get tired of it. I just love it up there and I've finally got the wife interested in seeing more after we drove from Pt Augusta over to quorn past the pichi richi line just a couple of weeks ago actually. missus has never understood why I have always bailed off up there with my old man and our fourbys but now she is starting to get it. just waiting for our little one to get a little bit bigger before the camping begins again.
Thanks for sharing

oohsean
Here and there
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Joined: November 9th, 2011, 12:08 pm

Re: Arkaroola/Willow Springs

Unread post by oohsean » August 22nd, 2012, 12:46 pm

awesome trip!

Frog2
Getting to know the place
Posts: 16
Joined: June 6th, 2008, 10:37 pm

Re: Arkaroola/Willow Springs

Unread post by Frog2 » September 3rd, 2012, 11:51 am

Boy has that excellent report got me excited. I love the awesome photos as well. You obviously had a great trip. Good on ya. We'll be heading up there in a few weeks with some friends. I can't wait.

Sparkys
Part of the furniture
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Joined: March 1st, 2011, 10:17 am

Re: Arkaroola/Willow Springs

Unread post by Sparkys » September 3rd, 2012, 3:54 pm

Great photo's mate! Love that area. Did you get any photo's of the white house on the left hand side just as you come into Blinman from the South? My wife's Grandma lived in that for years as a kid, her old man was a mailman at Blinman with an Afghan herder to help out (think I got the story right). They'd get the mail from Parachilna by camel or donkey. Tough life!

80Butts
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Posts: 716
Joined: October 18th, 2008, 8:21 am
Location: Adelaide SA

Re: Arkaroola/Willow Springs

Unread post by 80Butts » September 3rd, 2012, 10:34 pm

heading back up there myself soon. I reckon last time at Arkaroola was my Dad and I and it was my 31st Birthday. Turning 36 this November and yep, Dad and I will be at Arkaroola again. cant wait. Its been far too long. Its this thread that got me thinking and prompted me to pull the finger out and get organised!

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