Land before time: Travelling through the ancient Flinders Ranges

After Silverton, we stayed in Peterborough, which was unremarkable aside from the trivia that the town changed its name from Petersburg to Peterborough because of the anti-German vibe during WWI. Also it has a steam museum called SteamTown, which rather than being dedicated to the steam punk movement (fun!) was just more steam-driven artefacts without any punk tendencies. We’d run out of steam on steam, so we left the caravan park and went straight to Ororoo.

Ororoo has the privilege of having the largest and oldest gumtree in Ororoo. Shelley loves a good tree hug and got intimate with old mate, who was over 500 years old.

Hugging giant gum tree in Ororoo, South Australia

The gateway to the Flinders Ranges

A lot of towns in South Australia claim to be ‘the gateway to the Flinders Ranges’ even as far down as Port Augusta. Hawker is the legit gateway. We stopped in there for a coffee and some prattling from the owner and then drove into the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park. Australia isn’t known for its peaks, it’s essentially a flat place; so finding this mountain range in the middle of nothingness seemed to heighten its beauty. The peaks were reddy-brown and undulating and the hills were green and covered with wildflowers, thanks to the recent rains. It was all very ‘Land Before Time’.

We took one of the first turn-offs in the park in order to climb Arkaroo Rock. The trail up led to aboriginal cave paintings. These were really fantastic, but it was a shame that the rock had to be locked away in a cage to stop bogans carving ‘Jayden luvs Kayla’ over the top of the emu tracks, which we saw evidence of in a smaller cave on the same track.

Slanted creek bed at Arkaroo Rock, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Would love the see this when filled with water
Photographer capturing Arkaroo Rock Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Snapping away at the Flinders Ranges
View of Arkaroo Rock, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
The sun came out for a minute and made a pretty
More indigenous cave painting at Arkaroo Rock, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
You can see the emu tracks in this one
Indigenous cave painting at Arkaroo Rock, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Creation story of Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges

Heading north to our campsite in Trezona Range, we had to drive slowly to avoid hitting the kangaroos and emus that were bounding across the road. Even before dusk, they can be a hazard as they seem to decide at the very last second that now is a good time to run blindly across the road. It takes only one heavy braking incident to realise it’s best just to slow right down and enjoy watching them. The emus are the most amusing as they don’t seem to notice you till you’re feet way and then zoom off, their neck and head flailing back from the inertia of their acceleration.

It turns out that Land Before Time was quite an apt description as Trezona limestone is so old that it contains evidence of early life on Earth. There is a sign there called the Golden Spike which marks the base of the Ediacarin Period of geological time when single-celled life forms began to evolve into complex multi-celled organisms (approx. 635 million years ago). Mind blown, right? We camped next to an empty river bed and watched the roos and emus walk past and scrutinise our set up. “OMG they don’t even have an Engel, losers.”  When the sun went down we saw one of the clearest skies either of us could remember, with a star megafactory and lots of milky way haze. We probably gazed upon it for a whole two minutes.

Highs: Hilarity of emus running with petticoats bouncing

Lows: Had hours, needed aeons

Tourist at Flinders Ranges lookout, South Australia
Snapping those tasty views
Campsite at Trezona, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Not bad for rookies right?
Emus in creek bed at Trezona, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Emus and roos rule the Flinders Ranges
Exposed tree roots in Trezona creek bed Flinders Ranges, South Australia
When the river runs dry
Van leaving Trezona, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Camping among ancient rocks

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