Coal digger at Leigh Creek Coalfield
Considering we had around 700 km to cover, the final day was all a bit of a rush. Most importantly, we wanted to spend some time around the Flinders Ranges, so we hit the road as early as we could and only made a few stops until we got there. The first one was at Leigh Creek Coalfield, where we climbed into a massive earth digger and sat on the controls chair. There was also one of those huge Tonka Lorries with tyres 3 metres in diameter. The tyre on display broke a world record for achieving 289215 km and 17520 hours in service, it weighs 3.5 tonne, almost as much as all the chicken jalfrezi eaten by the average British in a year (but don’t quote me on this one!). The next stop was to see the ruins of another ghost town, similar to Farina Township. This one was in better conditions and it appeared that some of the homes were still lived in.
We made one more stop to check out the Prairie Hotel, were you can order the famous ‘Feral Feast’, a three course meal with delicacies like smoked kangaroo, emu pate and camel sausages! Sadly we weren’t feeling that hungry…
Huge coal digger
Eventually we reached the Flinders Ranges and had plenty of time to enjoy the spectacular views we were all looking forward to. Formed around 500 million years ago, the mountain ranges present various rock types of different colour and surface features. The vegetation also varies along the different rock formations. This is a great place for the outdoors enthusiast; there are many walking trails and plenty of camp sites with excellent facilities, I only had to flush the toilet once :-) It would have been great to stay here for the night but the boys didn’t have the luxury of time and had to go back to work the next day.
Further on, we stopped to reproduce a very famous photo of a giant gum tree, taken in 1937 by the photographer Harold Cazneaux. The photo was named ‘The spirit of endurance’ by its artist, but it is better known as The Cazneaux tree.
Our last stop, squeezed in as quickly as we could, was an aboriginal site, Yourambulla Caves. We didn’t realise that the walk up to the caves was a good 15 to 20 minutes up a steep hill, but it was worth it once we got there. The cave is the largest one containing painting in this region, many symbols can be seen scattered all over the walls and you can identify what they mean by referring to an information board. Stupidly, the board is positioned at the bottom steps of the cave, not where you want it to be.
I wondered how old some of these paintings were, and I did question the truthfulness of some symbols, especially the ones outside the fence…
Our 4 day trip soon came to an end. I still can’t believe we covered almost 2000km in such a short time. That’s almost half the distance I tavelled in Australia over 8 month! I really had a great time, and am very thankful to Al, Marian and Damien for letting me join in. So if any of you boys are reading this, thanks again… it was unreal! Far out!!