Thursday, June 9, 2022

Not A Mid Life Crisis, Just An Extended Tour (Part XXIV) - The Adelaide/Flinders Ranges Exploration Begins

DAY 32

 Because I went to sleep so early last night I was awake from a pretty early hour and got outside once it was light enough to see. It was cool, but not stupidly cold. One positive of the cloud cover I guess. I enjoyed a simple cold breakfast before packing up camp.

The road out of Willow Springs wasn’t as sloshy this morning, having dried out a bit. Hitting the main road I turned right and headed for Blinman. I was hoping to fuel up there before doing the Glass Gorge loop.

I had the road to myself, well, apart from the many kangaroos standing by the roadside. I passed the Arkaroola turn off. That route would have to wait until I had more time.

It can be a bit of a challenge to keep one’s devices charged while adv riding/bush camping so I am really pleased that my new Samsung phone lasts at least four days with moderate use. It’s almost like an on Nokia in that way!

Did I mention that the road through here is a cracker? Not super tight and twisty but fast and flowing on an excellent surface.

I arrived in Blinman pretty early. In fact it was only about 0820. I quickly found that there isn’t much happening in Blinman at that time of the morning so I checked out Mawson Trail trailhead and had a general wander around town. I noticed the distinct lack of a petrol station….
The cafe’ didn’t open until 9am so I parked up and walked around.

The pub looked interesting but I wasn’t going to hang around to find out today. Maybe next time.

The pub’s thermometer confirmed what I suspected. It WAS below 10C! Brrrr!

I reckon not much changes around here and when it does, it does it veeeerrryyy slowly.

The metal artwork out the front of the cafe’ was pretty cool.

When they did open I was the first customer through the door, ordering one of their home made pies and a small bucket of coffee. Another motorcyclist pulled up on a Beemer 1250 having just ridden down the Strezlecki track from Brisbane. He said they closed the road behind him due to flood water. I guess I won’t be riding home that way any time soon!

I also found out that there was no fuel in town. There was some available about 15 kilometres west of Blinman at Angorichina. I still had half a tank so would do the Glass Gorge loop and pick up fuel on the way back.
So, I headed north out of town along Glass Gorge road. It immediately followed a (dry) creek line and twisted and turned. It was spectacular riding and the road was grippy from the rain a few days prior. Nice!

There was certainly evidence of the 35mm of rain a few days previously but with my timing, the road surface was almost perfect.

There were numerous huge, dry creek crossings. It obviously takes a lot more that 35mm to get these flowing.

I soon came to a bit of a side track shooting up a very steep little climb. I recognised it as the lookout from Brent Pearson’s video so I went straight up. It was rocky and a bit rutted but the big Twin blasted straight up it. The view from the narrow ridge line was stunning. Pictures do not do this site justice.

I remembered to stop for a photo of the steep climb (or descent from here) before I went back down but of course, it never looks as steep in a photo. I dropped down here and turned hard left where it disappears.

Glass Gorge road ended with a ride across another huge dry creek bed to the Parachilna road intersection.

I decided to head west out to Parachilna to find some fuel. The road out crossed the same dry creek bed a couple of times. It must have been 100 metres across at least.

The ride out to Parachilna was basically 10 kilometres of dead straight gravel. Arriving at the pub I spied a sign on the petrol bowser stating that they didn’t have fuel. The nearest fuel was at Argorichina,  back the other way along Parachilna/Blinman road.
A couple towing a caravan kindy took a photo of me in front of the pub.

The boring straight road across the plain back to the Flinders was dispatched quickly(again) and I was soon twisting my way along another dry creek bed and headed for Angorichina. Ho-hum…..

I passed the trail head for the Heysen Trail. This is a walking trail that starts (or ends depending on where you start out) here in the Flinders Parachilna Gorge and goes all the way south of Adelaide to Cape Jervis, 1200 kilometres away.

A little further along a winding road was the little tourist village that has the only fuel in the area. I noted that the price of fuel here would have been gob smacking six months ago but in today’s world, it was actually what we have been paying in the capital cities. $2.25 a litre.

Fueled up I headed back to Blinman and turned back south. After a while I turned west on Brachina Gorge road. I wasn’t going to go out here as Brent had mentioned it wasn’t that good a ride with a lot more tourist traffic. The road did start out pretty boring with quite a few 4wds going the other way. Rounding a bend I pulled over for a “comfort” stop. Looking up, the view was pretty amazing.

The road just got better and better until I was IN Brachina Gorge.

The road followed the creek bed for most of the gorge. “Followed” as in it was IN the creek bed for much of it. When it rains here this creek must absolutely PUMP! Look at the debris, 8ft up the tree trunks. Many of the gums were severely damaged on their upstream side from all the rubbish that charges downstream when it flows.

See that one metre by fifty centimetre slab of sandstone wedged in the base of that gum tree?! Do not mess with water!

What is beneath rapids…..

So, I basically went along Brachina Gorge to the western end then turned around and rode back through. Doing this I saw things I had missed on the first pass. The reason for doing this, apart from missing the dead flat plains that exist to the west of the Flinders, was to turn south along Bunyeroo Gorge road.

I wasn’t sure what to expect as this road was a very faint track on my topo map. It turned out to be one of the best rides I did in the Flinders. Sure, it was high quality gravel, not gnarly dirt but this allowed me to zip along, relaxed and taking in the views. I zipped so much that I basically didn’t stop for any photos. Not even when I rode through Bunyeroo Gorge itself……only stopping when I got to the Razorback Lookout.

This section of road climbed and rolled over steep ridge lines and reminded me very much of Holden and Mitsubishi car television ads from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. Obviously, with the Holden and Mitsubishi car plants being located in Adelaide the obvious place to show them in action was twisting and turning over the stunning Flinders Ranges.

Looking at the forecast I decided to just head for Adelaide this afternoon. It was looking quite dark and grey to the west and rain was forecast for this afternoon and all day tomorrow. I didn’t want to have to ride a long way in the cold and wet tomorrow- and because I am riding like a local (as my bike is stored in Adelaide), not an interstate rider on his annual leave - I can cut it short and just make up for it next time I come down to ride.

I got back to Melrose and was just about to walk into the North Star Hotel to ask about a room when I thought it might pay to check accomodation further south, even closer to Adelaide. A quick interweb search finds me a hotel in Clare that fits the bill so I gear up again and buzz south. This road is much more interesting in that it goes through a bunch of interesting, small towns. I am torn between stopping to take photos and my desire to get to the hotel in Clare. With the short days and looming rain, pressing on wins out.

I arrived at the Bennetts Hotel in Clare just after five pm and just before dark. I am please to see that it is a big, well maintained pub with motel like rooms. I quickly strip the bike and spread my gear out around the room. The tent needed drying out properly as I packed it slightly wet this morning (as I could see that it wasn’t going to dry any time soon this morning) and I jump in a hot shower to try to warm up. Aahhh, bliss!

Wandering into the bar I am greeted by a cheerful barmaid who insists on pouring me a Coopers Stout! Bloody awesome! After another I decided to order the huge lump of steak on a hot rock. At least I couldn’t complain how it was cooked!😉

DAY 33

I am not counting the next day as a ride day (bugger it, yes I am) as it was just a few hours down the road to Adelaide. I started out with a coffee from a local shop up the road. This mural was on the building next door.

It had been raining lightly but the cloud was beginning to break up a bit. I stopped just south of Leasingham for a photo over the vineyards.

At Auburn I turned east for Saddleworth as Adelaide wasn’t far away. Rolling into town I spotted the Catholic Church sitting majestically on a hill top, overlooking the town. It was a huge old stone structure in a stunning location.

Getting back into Adelaide I whipped my front wheel out so as to get a buckle straightened out before my next trip down here. The buckle has been there since I bought the bike but it is getting annoying at speeds below 40km/h. Hopefully they can get it sorted before next week.

Another great few days of riding in an awesome location. As I have mentioned, I wasn’t expecting much from the Flinders Ranges but they turned out to be stunning. So much so that I will be coming back next week for another five days exploring even more of the area!

Cheers and thanks for checking in. This ride is obviously still “to be continued”……

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