Exploring the Flinders Ranges (South Australia) has been a memorable experience. Naturally steering clear of crowds where ever we go, we’ve avoided the touristy places, opting instead to venture onto side roads.
‘Stunning’ might well be an overused description, but the scenery of the Flinders deserves every bit of ‘stunning’, ‘breath-taking’, ‘magnificent’ and more.
Indigo ranges, with scissor-sharp peaks piercing the sky, stretch off into the distance, parallel with the road. And turning to look in the other direction, naked ochre-orange ridges of rock make an equally impressive statement. Green mounds dotted with low growing native shrubs form a repetitive rolling pattern from the roadside to meet the high country.
And then the scene is dissected by dry rocky riverbeds, twisting around the base of hills, lined with massive River Red Gums. The trees spread out onto the floodplains, in brilliant contrast to the solid colour of the mountain backdrop.
Tired fences of leaning and splintering cypress posts, rusty wire and torn chicken mesh no longer keep stock contained, but they have a rustic character befitting of the ancient mountains. Historic rock and mortar buildings stand in ruin, a testament to pioneer farmers long gone. I marvel at the workmanship, still evident.
And then we boil the billy for a cuppa in the shade of a giant eucalypt, sit and watch the Red-capped Robins and Yellow-rumped Thornbills chattering amongst themselves and the rest of the local bird population that seems to have come to greet us.
The sunset to end our day of roaming through the Flinders was simply magic – a sky on fire. And then the blackness of a starlit heaven moved in to bid us goodnight.
Rain has recently turned the southern Flinders Ranges (South Australia) green – a lush green contrasting with warm earthy tones of sand and rock. A beautiful landscape of craggy hills, silver-grey eucalypts and tall tussocks of desert grasses slid by like a slow-motion move as the steam train chugged along at a snail’s pace.
Narrow-gauge rail carried the restored historic Pichi Richi train from Quorn to Woolshed Flat and back again. A single row of upholstered bench seats flanked each side of the carriage, meaning everyone got a window seat. The chilly autumn breeze on my face was fresh and filled with everything I love about nature’s breath, along with the odd speck of soot from the engine.
Our car attendant was a witty, bushy-haired senior high-school student. He warned us that he was not a train fanatic, and pleaded with passengers to keep the questions easy. My guess is that he volunteers on the train rides simply because he loves people and life. He was an absolute delight.
Back in town after our fun-filled, yet relaxing train ride, we browsed a second-hand book store heavy with the wonderful smell of old books. Of course I bought one. Then we sampled one of the local quaint cafes, treating ourselves to a slice of homemade quandong cheesecake with a generous dollop of quandong syrup, and obligatory scoop of ice-cream. Delicious!
Quandong (sometimes known as native peach) is a locally produced native ‘bush food’, and locals showcase the product. We’ve been trying out local produce as we trip around the country, and surely that’s one of the pleasures of travel.
As I sit outdoors back at the caravan park to write, the familiar scent of wattle fills the air. Together we recall the favourite parts of our day and chuckle about the humour of the young lad who obviously loves life and community.
Traditionally, Australia Day is our national day set aside as a holiday to celebrate the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet from Great Britain, the initiation of Australia’s European history. Although I’m pleased that Australia sees fit to recognise and showcase our history and all the privileges that our country offers each and every one of us, it’s not a day that I do anything special to celebrate my heritage, freedom and progress that I am a part of.
I privately give thanks for all this and much more every day of every week. I am so very grateful for every aspect of my lifestyle in Australia.
Top quality and ample fresh produce available to purchase at clean and convenient shops and markets – vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, meat and seafood. Take your pick. So much to choose from. I’m sure that many international visitors to Australia would be astounded to set sight on our supermarket shelves stocked full of such premium food. I feel genuine gratitude to our farmers, to nature that provides the essential conditions for the growth of this food, and for the transport and employment and infrastructure in place necessary for getting this produce to the public.
Also astounding is the fact that most of us have a quality roof over our heads, clothes aplenty, and services to deal with all that we need. Doctors, scientists, education facilities. All everyday possessions and services that we could so easily take for granted if we did not consciously think about and identify regularly. Daily.
We depend upon a stable economy and socially considerate society. We depend upon the wellbeing of nature in every corner and far-flung expanse of this country. We depend upon a non-judgemental and charitable attitude in every community. Without the participation of all Australians in the goal of creating and maintaining a society that supports the wellbeing of all people and the land that we live on, we will not continue to have this liberated and affluent lifestyle to celebrate.
My gratitude is unfailing.