Eating ferals and meeting fossils: Parachilna to Marree

A wise grey nomad in Peterborough had advised that we give the pub at the end of the Flinders Ranges a go. The Prairie Hotel in Parachilna turned out to be as hipster as the outback gets, with its own craft beer label and a curated playlist of housey beats by obscure Turkish DJs ( had to ask the FOH Grant what kind of amazing we were listening to during tucker time). We ordered the feral mixed grill, which consisted of kangaroo steak, camel sausage and emu mignon. Roadkill jokes aside, it was all really delicious. Don’t just take our word for it, David Dickinson from Bargain Hunt was there with us, and we suspect he is the Supreme Grey Nomad, at least back in Britain.

Campervan leaving Parachilna Gorge, South Australia
Goodbye Flinders Ranges!
Shadow selfie, Parachilna, South Australia
Two black fellas keep following us
Feral mixed grill at Prarie Hotel, Parachilna, South Australia
Bad photo, great food
The Prairie Hotel, Parachilna, South Australia
Come for the emu mignon stay for the craft beer

Fossicking for fossils at Nilpena

The next morning we took a local marine biologist up on the offer to show us around an Ediacarin fossil site. Apparently, the fossils on Nilpena Station may hold the key to the genesis of modern life. The site dates back 550 million years, back when Australia was a sea and still joined with Antartica. Storms would bury all the little creatures on the sea floor with sand, but their imprint remained. Years later, two tectonic plates around the Flinders Ranges collided creating 50km high mountains which eroded over time to make some of these fossils visible today.

They show the first filter-feeding creatures, the first mouth-to-anus (hehe) feeders and the first creatures to freely move around the sea floor. Matt, our guide was incredibly informative, although he made it clear that the site, having only been recognised in 2004, still offers more questions than answers, and many of the creatures are still to be named. The researchers can only visit the site for about two months in winter every year, but are hoping to gain UNESCO World Heritage listing and create a living museum, similar to the major fossil site in Canada’s Rocky Mountains.Fossil in ancient sea bed, Nilpena Station

Fossils in the ancient sea bed
More dickensonia fossil imprints, Nilpena, South Australia
Dickinsonia – Earth’s earliest animal
Dickinsonia costata fossil, Nilpena Station, South Australia
Silly putty makes it 3D
Plant fossil at Nilpena Station, South Australia
Not a jellyfish guys…
Fossil record, Nilpena Station, South Australia
Each layer is a different storm
Fossil beds at Nilpena Station, South Australia
This is 550 million year-old sea floor

Moseying on to Marree

Having been told that when you get to Marree Hotel, you’ll feel totes outback, we drove straight to the pub and ordered a beer. We sat outside in the sun watching a steady stream of travellers draw in while realising that there were no locals around. Marree was once a stop on the old Ghan train that went up to Alice Springs but now everything has that abandoned vibe, a recurring theme in our travels so far. We watched an emu cross the rail track past an old abandoned Commonwealth Railways engine and wondered where these locals were and what they did. Meh. With the sun beating a steady retreat, we again took to the road. Well not any road, the infamous Oodnadatta Track.

Derelict chevy, Maree
Dinosaur bones
Exterior shot of Maree Hotel, Maree, South Australia
Cue the banjo music
Tin house in Maree, South Australia
A man’s home is his castle
Vintage train of Commonwealth Railways, Maree
Departing 1929…
Gareth drinking beer at Maree Hotel, South Australia
Drink faster
Shelley having a beer at the Maree Hotel, South Australia
West End Draught just tastes like VB

Highs: Using silly putty on the fossil imprints to create 3D creatures

Lows: Didn’t get a chance to stop in Parachilna Gorge as we were racing the sunset

3 thoughts on “Eating ferals and meeting fossils: Parachilna to Marree

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