The mountains that have been looming in the distance suddenly seem to be in front of us, beside us and behind us. It seems like we just turned a corner and here we are, surrounded.The open highway passing by golden wheat fields and hills dotted with wind turbines is left behind as we drive into the Flinders Ranges. We have pulled into Quorn for refreshment and I feel like we have stepped back in time. The old railway town of Quorn looks unchanged from the 1880’s. It’s getting late in the day and its taken us longer to drive up here from Adelaide with Harry than I anticipated. I would love to spend longer exploring Quorn but have to settle for a quick lap of the block. Back into the car and we head for Rawnsley Park Station via Hawker.
The colours of these jagged ancient mountain ranges is striking against the deep blue sky. We stop at some vantage points along the way to read about the area and take in the views. I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t this. This 540 million year old landscape is ancient and knowing. I feel small yet embraced by something so much bigger than me at the same time. I’m captivated.
We turn off into the dusty dirt road towards Rawnsely Park Station, a working sheep station that has successfully turned its hand to tourism. The station sits at the foot of Rawnsley Bluff which forms the southern tip of Wilpena Pound, with views to the Chance Ranges in the east. The accommodation is clean and comfortable, motel style with a full kitchenette, bathroom and deck. We are keen to stretch our legs after the long drive and set about exploring the property. The station was settled in 1851 as part of Arkaba Station. Harry and Winnie the Pooh enjoy setting up a fire in the old stone fireplace and checking out the old wagon.
There are many walking tracks on the property and we want to catch the sunset from a good vantage point. We walk to the top of Allison’s saddle a short 1.6 km walk that affords great views of Rawnsley Bluff, the Chance Ranges and over the mountains back towards Hawker.
We sit and watch this amazing landscape, the result of millions of years of erosion and uplift transform before our eyes. First golden orange, then a firey glowing red before dimming to a deep purple hue. I hear the words of Hans Heysen “The bones of the earth laid bare” echo in my head. Heysen, the famous artist who spent much time in the Flinders Ranges sums up this vast, ancient and unusual landscape very succinctly with this beautifully simple quote.
I feel a sense of peace descend upon me as we walk back down the hill, the mountains now a dark silhouette against the emerging night sky. A sprinkling of stars is already visible. And this is only the beginning. I can’t wait to see what magical places we will discover over the next few days.
At a Glance
located 450 km north of Adelaide.
Rawnsely Park Station
Wilpena Road Via Hawker South Australia
Short 1.6 km walk at Rawnsley Park Station
Great for watching the sunset.