5.30 a.m.




Flinders Ranges, South Australia


Still dark. But time to get up. If we were to experience an outback sunrise then this is how it must be. And oh, what a sunrise it turned out to be. The orange hue of the sky to the east of us and the increasing red glow of the mountain peaks to the west.




Ethereal early morning light



After leaving Kangaroo Island, on mercifully a much smoother flight than the outbound leg, we’d driven six hours north from Adelaide. Our destination was a former sheep station now turned conservation park. There are still areas within our own home three acres that I have never fully explored, but imagine driving a circular route around just a small portion of your property and it taking four hours? This place covers a staggering 93 square miles.



Relic of a time gone by


Clearance of vegetation and fencing for agriculture destroys and fragments natural habitats. Sheep then strip the grazing bare, contributing to erosion of the landscape and damaging the food source of native animals with obvious consequences for natural biodiversity. With the sheep turfed off, the land is slowly reverting back to bush and the natural flora and fauna returning.



Kanga and baby Roo..



Red kangaroo, Western Grey kangaroo and wallaroo all now flourish here.



An emu with a line of youngsters in tow was a common sight.


Interestingly, it is the male of the species who incubates the eggs. He hardly eats or drinks and loses a significant amount of body weight in the process, rising from the nest only to turn the eggs which he does about ten times each day. The eggs hatch in eight weeks or so and the young continue to be nurtured by their fathers. They reach full size at about six months but can remain together until the next breeding season with Dad passing on to his offspring all the tricks and tools of the trade. It’s the female who does the courting and there can be vicious fights over males. One up for feminism here ladies. There is no doubt about who wears the trousers in emu world.



Wedge tailed eagles soar on thermals high above the mountain peaks.


Our second morning was forecast cloudy. No sunrise then, but one of the guides was to bash on the door if the weather changed. At about 5.45 I’m awoken by Mike searching the room with a torchlight. “Do you hear that noise?” It was the sound of your typical hotel style phone. The familiar low warbling that signifies the early morning call. A second or so of trilling. A similar length gap. Repeat.

But wait. Isn’t there a point to this place? Yes we have dramatic scenery and the abundant wildlife but it’s also meant as something of a retreat. People come here to extricate themselves temporarily from the trappings of the modern world.  No internet. No TV. No radio. And, most definitely, no phones.  And yet that familiar sound could not be denied. We re-checked the bedside tables, the desk, the likely places on the walls where a phone might be stowed. Still the sound continued. We checked the bathroom, inside the wardrobe, under the bed. And then Mike opened the door. The volume of the noise quadrupled. The location of the source identified as the hedge outside our room. Would you believe it. A bloomin’ telephone bird.



Days fell into a familiar routine. Up with the lark (or Willie Wagtail, so we were told) and straight out onto a drive. Back for lunch and an afternoon spent idling around the homestead and chilling out. A shower and then a further drive culminating in sundowners on some far flung hill. Return for a dinner that would surely merit an award should the Michelin man ever venture this far.



Rawnsley Bluff



A neighbouring farmer’s humorous take on a mailbox



Wilpena Pound


On the horizon, a natural amphitheatre in the mountains, this view seen from outside the rim. From the air it looks like a meteor crater or a monumental extinct volcano but it’s actually composed of sedimentary rock, deposited by a sea which covered this area some 800 million years ago. Geological forces compressed the layers and forced them upwards to form the ranges we see today.

Aboriginal ‘Dreaming’ provides a more colourful interpretation. The indigenous name for Wilpena is Ikara or ‘meeting place’. According to legend a large number of people were gathered together for a celebration when two serpents closed in to encircle them. The serpents (Akurras) ate so many people they were then unable to move, leaving their bodies to form the walls of the Pound.



Looking at the undulating nature of the ridge it’s not hard to see how the story arose



The walk into Wilpena, through an avenue of gum trees



If a tree survives a fall its branches can turn upwards, towards the light, forming a series of new trunks



Natural vegetation along the trail



Inside Wilpena Pound we climbed up to a viewpoint on one side of the ridge



Dick’s Knob

Nope, I kid you not.



At nearby Arkaroo Rock we found indigenous art. It was discovered by settlers relatively recently, around 1960, but under tragic circumstances. A local boy had gone missing and it was the search party which happened upon the cave. Sadly the outcome for the boy was not so good. His skeleton was found some 18 months later.




It’s believed the paintings, in charcoal and ochre, tell the story of the Akurras and the formation of Wilpena Pound. Some of them have been dated at 5000 years old.



Blackened trees are a common sight in the Flinders Range.


Plants have evolved to defend themselves against fire and some actually need it for a stage of their lifecycle or to prevent other species from thriving and competing for space. Gum trees drop branches and litter the ground around them to encourage fire to spread. Grass trees or yaccas contain oils which are actually flammable, producing a fire which is fiercer but moves quickly from one plant to the next. Faster moving blazes do less damage than slower, smouldering, fires protecting the inner growing layers and ultimately saving the plant.



Spiky yaccas on the path to Arkaroo



Passing hikers are slowly building up the mound of stones. We contributed two more.




Nowhere near as shy and retiring as they would have you think.



A final drive as night starts to fall on the outback



Pause for refreshment..



Can there be a better way to see out the day?


pin it?


2017-10-26T10:27:32+00:00February 10th, 2017|Tags: |


  1. Backlane Notebook February 10, 2017 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    Great post Jessica and inspiring photographs. I will read this more thoroughly when I have returned from the allotment.

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 4:48 pm - Reply

      Thanks. I hope you wrapped up warm, it’s been bitter outside last couple of days.

  2. FlowerAlley February 10, 2017 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this tour. I loved the phone bird story. Cave drawings were interesting.

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 4:50 pm - Reply

      We can laugh about the phone bird now. Of course, once you’ve spent ten minutes searching for the wretched thing sleep is impossible.

  3. restlessjo February 10, 2017 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    Stunningly beautiful photos! Especially the opening sequence and the close up of the Roo. Such a privilege to be in that time and space. 🙂 Thank you so much for joining my walks. This is a beauty!

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 4:52 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jo. There were so many kangaroos with babies in the pouch. Usually all we saw of them was a foot sticking out!

  4. wherefivevalleysmeet February 10, 2017 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    Lovely images Jessica – loved seeing the indigenous art – sunrise and nightfall in the outback looks magical

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 4:54 pm - Reply

      Sunrise and nightfall were the best times and blissfully cool.

  5. Caroline February 10, 2017 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Thank you for including such interesting stories with your beautiful photos. I did lol at the phone bird story!

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 4:56 pm - Reply

      It was a dead ringer (sorry) for a phone. And the fact that we were half expecting someone to call us for sunrise made it all the more a possibility.

  6. Bonnie February 10, 2017 at 3:58 pm - Reply


    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 4:57 pm - Reply

      Beautiful isn’t it. I’d go back tomorrow.

  7. derrickjknight February 10, 2017 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Lovely post, both pictorially and in writing.

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 4:57 pm - Reply

      Thanks Derrick.

  8. Linda DEV February 10, 2017 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Looked so much like our Utah…that is until the kangaroos and emus showed up. Thanks for sharing♥

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 5:02 pm - Reply

      Hi Linda and welcome!
      I would imagine the climate to be very similar. I’ve only ever seen photos of Utah but I can see what you mean. I do love these big dramatic landscapes.

  9. justjilluk February 10, 2017 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    Great blog Jessica. Beautiful place.

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 5:03 pm - Reply

      It certainly was. Thanks Jill.

  10. Christina February 10, 2017 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    Fabulous, Fabulous, Fabulous!! I feel like packing my bags now. What a fabulous holiday Jessica, I hope there are more adventures to come. 6.30am doesn’t sound too early to me; I was made to get up at 2.45 to drive to the Arches National Park when we were there! It was worth it though to see them at sunrise.

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 5:06 pm - Reply

      There is something about sunrises isn’t there. Well worth getting up for. Just once in a while.. !

  11. An Eye For Detail February 10, 2017 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    What an absolutely wonderful post and such gorgeous, gorgeous pictures. That sunrise is just plain out of this world!! Thank you SO much for sharing all this…

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 5:08 pm - Reply

      Thanks Libby. It’s so tricky catching that light, I remember it being so much more dramatic at the time!

  12. ginaferrari February 10, 2017 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    What a fantastic post and such stunning photography. I’m blown away!

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 5:22 pm - Reply

      Thanks Gina. I found this place quite early on in our planning and was determined to go there somehow. Long way off the beaten track but well worth it.

  13. The Big Garden and Croft February 10, 2017 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    [J] Fantastic photos, Jessica. I’m sure of one thing, though – far far too hot for me! Which is good because that way I feel no envy! ;~) Incidentally, the Weald of Kent/Sussex (and only just into Hampshire) is formed by the same means: hence the North Downs curving round to Hampshire Downs, and the South Downs. The east end is across the Channel!

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 5:27 pm - Reply

      Thankfully for us there were two coolish days and it was then that we did most of the walking. It was perfect weather for it too. It’s fascinating isn’t it, learning more about the landscape under our feet and how it was formed. And how long ago. At least we don’t have to worry about big serpents in the Downs!

  14. Virginia February 10, 2017 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Oh Wow! What a wonderful time you had. Those pictures are stunning. Thank you.

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 5:28 pm - Reply

      It just got better and better Virginia. You must go if you get a chance. As you said before, easier for you!

  15. Brian Skeys February 10, 2017 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    I would imagine a journey of a lifetime. Have you been over there before? Thanks for sharing.

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 5:30 pm - Reply

      Definitely a journey of a lifetime. No, this was the first trip. It won’t be the last either if I get any choice in the matter. We only just scratched the surface.

  16. Rabbitquilter February 10, 2017 at 11:16 pm - Reply

    How smashing to have a tour of this part of South Australia. I never got to this part. Hope your refreshment stop was for ‘Billy tea’ made in a billy can, it was actually very nice!!! No milk of course but very drinkable!!!! Did you make your own itinerary or stayed with friends? What an incredible adventure!!! ?

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      We planned the itinerary absolutely from scratch and stayed mostly in self catering but with the occasional hotel splurge, like this one. I missed the Billy tea sadly, but the refreshment had bubbles in it, which made an acceptable alternative!

  17. Karen February 10, 2017 at 11:25 pm - Reply


    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      Sunshine, scenery, wildlife. Can’t be beat.

  18. germac4 February 10, 2017 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    Gorgeous photos Jessica, and you should be working for Tourism Australia…. we are just saying to ourselves that we must visit this area! I often see photography and art classes/ tours being held in these areas, and you can see why, the light and colour in the first photos especially are wonderful.

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 5:40 pm - Reply

      The light was wonderful, especially the half light. But even in the middle of the day with those rich red rocks against the blue blue sky. If Tourism Australia want to give me a job I’ll be on the next plane.

  19. Sue Garrett February 10, 2017 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    Wallaroo – cross between kangaroo and wallaby? Who would have thought emu males are modern men! Is it true that rabbits have denuded the landscape too. Lovely images.

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 5:59 pm - Reply

      As I understand it, it’s down to size. A wallaroo is bigger than a wallaby and smaller than a kangaroo. Rabbits and goats also compete with the natives for grazing. The biggest problem at the moment though is predation from feral cats. They are being captured now on the station, we saw traps set up and one night an actual cat. It was very quick though, gone before I could point the camera at it.

  20. Kris Peterson February 11, 2017 at 2:09 am - Reply

    With each post, I want more. How I’d love to travel through Australia myself!

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 6:05 pm - Reply

      Most of the fellow tourists we met were either Australian or American. Some, but not many, Brits. Not so far for you..

  21. two engaging goldens February 11, 2017 at 4:36 am - Reply

    great photos. Brought back memories of a family holiday about 30 years ago and we camped at Rawnsley Bluff. No restaurant then but bloody hot. We had a chalet because it was too hot and the ground too hard to put up our tent. I did hand washing which I hung on the line and then proceeded to take off bone dry at the same time. By the way just about the whole of NSW (not South Australia) is today suffering from temperatures in the high 30’s, low 40’s, that’s over 100F in the old scale. Joy

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 6:16 pm - Reply

      Hello and welcome!
      I think the heat started to ramp up just as we left. I’d prefer it to the cold. Coming back here was not pleasant.
      We were right next door to Rawnsley Station. I think crossed the land occasionally but didn’t actually see the homestead. I was grateful that we had a couple of cooler days though. Walking would have been pretty hard going in that sort of heat.

  22. Chloris February 11, 2017 at 9:41 am - Reply

    Oh wonderful Jessica. Thanks for the fabulous photos, I almost feel I have been there now.

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      Thanks Chloris.

  23. Charles February 11, 2017 at 10:33 am - Reply

    Looks like you cleverly went to the beautiful parts. I had to go to Perth a couple of times, family friends, weddings etc and oh dear it’s ugly and bleak. Margaret River is quite nice but what you saw beats it into a cocked hat! Any chance of a rusty roo on the lawn?

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 6:35 pm - Reply

      Used to be a city girl, a long time ago. Nowadays though I need the remote places. Big landscapes and skies full of stars at night.
      I found one (here). Doesn’t ship to the UK though. Bummer.

  24. hoehoegrow February 11, 2017 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    I’m loving the Australia posts! Feels pleasantly alien on a dark February day in the UK. Oh to be sun- warmed ! Fantastic photos of a wonderful place.

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 6:42 pm - Reply

      Oh to be sun-warmed indeed. It’s wonderful leaving winter behind for a little while but coming back was awful!

  25. smallsunnygarden February 11, 2017 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    It looks an absolutely fantastic place, Jessica! I did have to do a search on yaccas – (yuccas I know, but yaccas? 😉 ) Judging by the search results, their main use outside of Australia appears to be in Scrabble… Might be handy plants here, I suspect, though I’m not too sure about that flammable oil idea!

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 6:45 pm - Reply

      Apparently they’re used as fire lighters. And the resin dried to a powder goes into fireworks. Boom!

  26. Brenda February 11, 2017 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    I can see why you were besotted with Australia.

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 6:46 pm - Reply

      Utterly. Thanks Brenda.

  27. Cathy February 12, 2017 at 8:18 am - Reply

    Great photos and some fascinating information Jessica, thank you

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 6:47 pm - Reply

      That’s what I love about travelling. You learn so much. Who knew that emu ladies are so liberated?

  28. Keryn Emmerson February 12, 2017 at 9:59 am - Reply

    When my sister and I were in our teens we used to go camping with our brother at Black’s Gap, which is on the other side of Dick’s Nob. We used to climb over into the Pound, walk all the way across until we could see the homestead, then turn around and walk back. I’m astonished now that we did that, it was grueling. We thought of ourselves as flabby teenagers, but our brother set a cracking pace and we just had to keep up. On one trip an elderly tourist had been lost the week before. We knew he was lying out there somewhere; as we walked across I was praying that we wouldn’t be the ones to stumble upon him. It was many years before they found him. Such a harsh country, but so beautiful. I’m really enjoying reading about your travels through my back yard.

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 7:06 pm - Reply

      Hi Keryn and welcome.
      Your backyard is so beautiful and I’m full of envy. But it certainly is harsh. That is a long walk across the Pound! We saw the homestead. I even have a picture of it but I was running out of space in the post as it was. We were lucky to have a couple of cooler days otherwise we wouldn’t have done as much walking as we did and always with a guide. It seems to be low season there now, on account of the heat. Some of the trails across the Pound are closed. Other than a mummified kangaroo I was spared any horrors!

  29. ontheedgegardening February 12, 2017 at 11:46 am - Reply

    Amazing photos, I especially love the wall paintings and the scenery and the kangeroos and the emus, and the ….. well I love it all! 🙂

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 7:10 pm - Reply

      What amazes me is how old those paintings are and yet still so vivid. They are shaded from the sun by an overhang of rock, but there’s still wind erosion. And nowadays there’s a protective fence which we had to stick the lens of the camera through to get a decent shot.

  30. Anna February 12, 2017 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    Fabulous sunrise, sunset and in-between photos Jessica. Love the tale of the telephone bird.

    • Jessica February 12, 2017 at 7:11 pm - Reply

      Pesky birds. Just as well I love them really! Thanks Anna.

  31. CherryPie February 13, 2017 at 12:00 am - Reply

    WOW!! what a wonderful experience. Thank you for sharing the journey for me to enjoy too 🙂

    • Jessica February 14, 2017 at 6:19 pm - Reply

      It certainly recharged the batteries. It’s so peaceful out there. Most of the time all you can hear is the call of the birds.

  32. BeckyB February 13, 2017 at 9:45 am - Reply

    oh wow this is so so beautiful . . . incredible adventure. And the indigenous art is wonderful. As you say though what a sad way to discover it.

    • Jessica February 14, 2017 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      Very sad. Having seen the terrain though I can easily understand how someone could get lost and not be found for months. And on the hottest days you wouldn’t survive long without water. We stayed close to the guide!

  33. jannaschreier February 13, 2017 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    It sounds like you had a ball on your station. You’ve also taught me something…a yacca. I’d never heard a grass tree called that before. Having done some investigating I see it’s a South Australia thing. Interesting! Lovely piccies. The sundowners sound idyllic.

    • Jessica February 14, 2017 at 6:23 pm - Reply

      It was fab. I was so sad to leave. Didn’t I say that about KI too?

      • jannaschreier February 15, 2017 at 1:30 pm - Reply

        Yes, and LH Island!

        • Jessica February 15, 2017 at 9:10 pm - Reply

          I said to Mike we should have just hidden out somewhere in the outback and never come back. As of today I would still have had two weeks more before I became an illegal immigrant.

  34. hb February 13, 2017 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    Marvelous. It must have been difficult to leave.

    • Jessica February 14, 2017 at 6:35 pm - Reply

      Understatement of the year! Even with so many wonders left to see it was a real wrench. The worst bit was returning to the main road, turning on the iPad and having all the emails come down. I hadn’t missed them one bit.

  35. Torrington Tina February 14, 2017 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Mr TT and I have enjoyed seeing these photos and reading all the background information, next instalment awaited!

    • Jessica February 14, 2017 at 6:45 pm - Reply

      Queensland next. Dry heat to humid! Thanks TT.

  36. frayedattheedge February 14, 2017 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    Of course I love the rusty truck, and the fun mailbox! Stunning photos of your trip …… we are so lucky that we can bring home so many photos on a memory card, when before we were limited to rolls of film (and it was always the special photo which was out of focus!!)

    • Jessica February 14, 2017 at 6:47 pm - Reply

      Yes indeed. Although we probably take far too many photos as a result. We brought home thousands!

  37. Peter Herpst February 16, 2017 at 3:13 pm - Reply

    Your posts from Australia are glorious! How lucky we are that you’re sharing this experience with us!

    • Jessica February 16, 2017 at 11:33 pm - Reply

      Thanks Peter. It was quite the experience. A beautiful and photogenic country.

  38. annie_h February 20, 2017 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    Such great photos, loved reading this post. You made me laugh with the telephone bird!

    • Jessica February 21, 2017 at 3:02 pm - Reply

      Thanks Annie. Now that we’re home I’m so missing the birds, even the telephone bird! But there is a little robin singing at daybreak and I heard a blackbird for the first time this year a couple of days ago. Things are looking up!

  39. pollymacleod February 27, 2017 at 10:59 pm - Reply

    What a fantastic tour, beautiful scenery and stunning photographs. LOL at the phone bird story, love the mailbox. It is amazing how huge farms are in Oz, a four hour drive here covers most of the UK from east to west at the widest point!!

    • Jessica February 28, 2017 at 11:24 am - Reply

      Everything is so much bigger in Oz, but then they’ve got a lot of space to fill! It must be so much more efficient farming that way, rather than our postage stamp fields. Quite a daunting prospect nevertheless. If something goes wrong it goes wrong big.

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