It was an early start for us all on Tuesday 16th June, 2015. We had a long drive ahead of us from Quorn, up to the old ghost town of Farina in the Far North of South Australia……about 300 km north of Argadells. The weather had turned nasty again, with quite a bit of rain and generally very gloomy. I was feeling incredibly frustrated. We had driven all this way and the Gods had conspired against us. And there was absolutely nothing I could do to alter the situation, other than take a deep breath as Marija told me.
Our day started off with a nice warm shower, and Marija and I then went to collect the eggs from the chooks. Judy and Malcolm from Argadells had gone down to Adelaide for a few days so we agreed to collect the eggs. We returned to the Overseers Cottage and enjoyed some fresh fried eggs on toast.
After breakfast we drove down to the campgound and caught up with John & Jenny, and David & Joy. They were still packing up their gear and the vans. As the weather was miserable, and we had some dirt roads to travel on, we agree that Marija and I would head off and act as ‘forward scouts’. So with a tinge of sadness we left Argadells. We had enjoyed a fantastic 3 nights here and all of us would highly recommend Argadells to anyone intending on coming up this way to the southern Flinders Ranges.
Marija and I drove north along the Arden Vale Road, and stopped off briefly to have a look at the Wyacca memorial to honour the Francis family who arrived in the area in the 1880’s. We then stopped briefly at Proby’s grave. Hugh Proby took up the pastoral lease of Kanyaka in July 1851, and drowned whilst crossing the nearby Willochra Creek in August 1852. We continued on, passing through the Kanyaka Creek which had a bit of water flowing through it, and then on to the Simmonston Ruins. Simmonston was surveyed in 1872 on one of six major routes proposed for the railway line north from Quorn. An advertisement of the time said the following:
‘There are few allotments in this splendidly situated town for sale. I would advise intending buyers to make their bargains at once, or they will lose the opportunity of getting an allotment in the healthiest town in the Colony’.
Two buildings were commenced in 1880, one a two storey hotel and the other a general store. However, before construction was completed, word was received that the railway line would go to the east of the ranges. So, Simminston died before it had lived and became ‘the town that never was’.
After reaching the bitumen, we headed north on the Outback Highway (Bandoota Road) towards the town of Hawker. We stopped briefly again to have a look at the amazing Kanyaka Ruins which are located about 42 km north of Quorn. It was just a shame that it was drizzling with rain, and our walk around the ruins was cut short as the heavens absolutely opened up. The Kanyaka ruins is very much worth stopping off for a look.
The buildings at Kanyaka include remnants of a stable and harness room, a woolshed and an overseer’s cottage. The Kanyaka ruins are of the once huge sheep run, Kanyaka Station in the pioneering era. In 1856 the Kanyaka Station leases totalled 365 square miles or 240000 acres (945 square km or 94500 hectares). In good seasons the property housed up to 70 workers and their families. The main homestead consisted of 16 rooms with 18 inch (46 cm) thick walls of stone and mortar construction.
We kept heading north on the Highway towards Parachilna, and along the way I had a chat with John VK5FMJC in Crystal Brook on 40m, followed by a QSO with Bill VK5MBD.
We took the opportunity of stretching our legs at the old ruins at Wilson, and detoured out to the old Wilson cemetery. The town of Wilson was proclaimed on the 6th January 1881 and named by Governor Jervois after General Sir Charles Wilson. When established, its main purpose was to serve the new farming districts and their communities.
But the showers prevented us from having a good look around, so we continued on to Hawker, about 400 km north of Adelaide. In Hawker we regrouped, and had a late morning tea stop at the Sightseer’s Cafe, which is owned by the parents of a mate of mine.
After morning tea, we all continued north on the Highway, passing the turn off to Merna Mora where we planned to stay for 3 nights, as of Friday. We also viewed the amazing Flinders Ranges to our right. Sadly much of the ranges were covered in cloud and mist. Upon reaching Parachilna, about 490 km north of Adelaide, we all stopped for a break. It was at that time that we started receiving reports that one of the many creeks to the north of us was flooded and the main bitumen road had been completely blocked since about 8.00 a.m. Bugger! One of those people who gave us the bad news was John VK2KJO and his wife Sue, who were also travelling up north in their 4WD and caravan.
We all decided to take the opportunity for a lunch break. I had been to the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna before, so I knew they served up great meals there. So that’s where Marija and I headed. And we weren’t disapointed. Marija had a Chicken Thai salad, and I enjoyed a Roo burger and a nice cold beer.
We all hit the road again and headed north. The first flooded creek we reached was Breakfast Time Creek, which was easy to get through. But it was the next creek on, that was causing all the grief for people travelling north and south. Warrioota Creek was flowing extremely well, and there was a big bank up of traffic on either side of the creek. We patiently waited for about one hour, until it was noticeable that the water level had dropped quite significantly. One brave 4WD enthusiast had decided they had waited for long enough and made the journey across the creek from south to north. And it wasn’t long before a number of other motorists followed.
Marija and I decided that we should get across the creek while we could. It was extremely black over the Gammon Ranges, where all the water was originating from. And because we didn’t have a van, we didn’t fancy sleeping in the back of the Toyota Hi Lux. The warm bed at Lyndhurst was much more appealing. So over we went. Sadly, leaving David & Joy, and John & Jenny behind.
David and John remained at old Beltana that night, while Marija and I continued north to Lyndhurst where we had booked in to the Lyndhurst Hotel. On the way I put out a CQ call on 7.095 and spoke with Greg VK5GJ at Meadows, Trevor VK5TW, and John VK2KJO.
After booking in to the pub, we decided to go for a drive out to Farina. Firstly to familiarise ourselves where Farina was, and secondly to touch base with somebody from the Farina Restoration group. So we drove north out of Lyndhurst for about 6 km until hitting the dirt. The weather had improved a little now as we were much further north, but it was getting dark and we did notice some very black clouds to our west. Sure enough, just as we approached the turnoff to Farina, down came the rain. And it was very heavy. In an instant, it had changed the road conditions. The dirt had become like driving on soap.
But we had succeeded in speaking with members of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the Farina Restoration Group.
After leaving Farina, we had a very slow drive on the 2km section of dirt out of the old Farina township, as the road surface was incredibly slippery, despite the fact that it had stopped raining. Once we got to the main dirt road between Lyndhurst and Marree, the surface improved. But it was a slow drive back to Lyndhurst as it was not completely dark and the kangaroos were out in force.
My only concern now was….could David and John get out to Farina ? Unfortunately we had no mobile phone coverage and I could not raise either David or John on 2m or 40m. It was a waiting game.
ExploreOz, 2015, <http://www.exploroz.com/Places/77859/SA/Kanyaka_Homestead.aspx>, viewed 27th June 2015
Flinders Ranges Research, 2015, <http://www.southaustralianhistory.com.au/wilson.htm>, viewed 27th June 2015
Hi Paul, a great write up with good pictures. Wasn’t it fun!
John D VK5BJE
That rain wasn’t fun at the time. But in hindsight, it added a bit of interest to the trip. Just 2 activations short: Mt Benjamin & Lake Eyre. That’s not bad going considering the terrible weather we had.