Part of the Gammon Ranges after leaving Arkaroola Resort
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26 October 2017
A casual breakfast this morning, and time for a last walk around Arkaroola before we set off for our journey to Wilpena Pound. It was a perfect morning, sun shining, blue sky as we reluctantly said our goodbye to Arkaroola. We had to travel over the gravel road that we had travelled in to the Resort, and this time we stopped at the Gammon Ranges National Park as the sun was at just the right angle to take some great photos of the beautiful ranges. Flick called a “Cooee” twice and they bounced back twice due to the configuration of the mountains.
Our morning tea stop was at the small village of Copley where we set up our tea, coffee and biscuits under a shady tree and had the opportunity of exploring the park while Flick refuelled the vehicle. Our next stage was a longer drive to Angorichina Store and Office and caravan park which, although it is in a fairly remote area, there had been a number of people staying overnight there. We even had to cross a creek (right) where there was some water, a rare sight in this area! Unfortunately we also discovered that the vehicle had a flat tyre, fortunately the Store had a spare tube and after a delay of about 20 minutes we were on our way again.
Lunch stop today was the tiny town of Blinman. Historic and picturesque Blinman, nestled in the central Flinders Ranges, is the highest town in South Australia. The town began with the discovery of copper in 1859 and commencement of mining in 1862. Blinman Mine is today a popular visitor attraction with tours available below ground.
At its peak the population of Blinman was over 1500 . Today this peaceful settlement has a permanent population of just 20, plus residents of the surrounding pastoral properties. Despite its small size, Blinman services include a General Store, Post Office Agency and the North Blinman Hotel with accommodation and dining.
There is also a range of visitor accommodation on surrounding properties and cottage accommodation within the town. We discovered a building that was built during the 1880s that is now being restored and will probably be a rental property (left). We met the gentleman who is restoring the property and he allowed us to have sneak preview of the work he is doing (below).
Blinman is an ideal central base from which to explore one of Australia’s most magnificent scenic regions. It is a perfect stop over on the way to Arkaroola and the spectacular northern Flinders Ranges.
In the mining era from 1862 – 1910 the mine delivered a large amount of copper to the London Metal Exchange. Blinman began as a outpost of “Peg leg” Blinman’s post as a sheep herder. He discovered a green mineral in a rock outcrop. Having registered the find and sold it to an Adelaide consortium – the Blinman copper mine was born in 1862.
We had a nice pizzza lunch at the North Blinman Hotel, and were recommended to try the local Store for a quondong tart with cream or icecream. After exploring the Mining Museum and other sites along the main street, we tried out the tarts with icrecream and a coffee and they were delicious.
The Angorichina Station and its shearing shed, which is still standing, was our next stop where we had the opportunity of seeing how the old shearers worked, saw loads of wool, and how the wool is packed into the bales.
Angorichina Station was first taken up in the 1850s by Mr Boord and although situated in the Northern Flinders Ranges, with very few tracks leading north of Port Augusta, it was visited regularly. During 1859 it was A.R.C. Selwyn and G.W. Goyder who called in during a survey trip of the north. The last visitor that year was the Governor of the colony, Sir Richard MacDonnell. It was during this trip that the governor and his party had a memorable experience of the northern weather.
They had seen some of the extraordinary desolation of some of the northern stations and clouds of grasshoppers eating the little feed still available. Then while camping one night, on their way to Angepena Station, rain fell with tropical violence for nearly two hours. The previously large dry creek became the channel of a raging torrent almost two metres deep.
It was also during 1859 that one of the station’s shepherds, Robert Blinman, discovered copper on the Angorichina run and took out a mining lease which later became the Blinman mine. With the increasing number of visitors calling in, A. Paterson opened an eating house to cater for some of the travellers. He did well until it was destroyed by fire in March 1862.
In 1862 Angorichina changed to Henry C. Swan who owned it for many years to come. He greatly expanded the station by taking out several more leases. He lived on the station until February 1870 when he appointed Frank Warwick manager. The North Blinman Hotel was booked for this occasion and more than thirty men, presided over by J.P. Buttfield, were there to wish him well.
In October 1877, when the station carried almost 14,000 sheep and 250 head of cattle, it was sold to Edward Spicer who with William Ranson Mortlock acquired the lease in 1878. William Mortlock was the overseer from 1889 until 1891.
The next site we visited was Australia’s version of the Great Wall of China south on the Wilpena Road. These are fascinating lines of rocks topped with ironstone which resemble the Chinese landmark.
Our next stop was Huck’s lookout that offers stunning views of the northeastern rampart of Wilpena Pound.
Renowned art photographer, Harold Cazneaux, probably is best known in South Australia for his 1937 photograph of a large old river red gum near Wilpena Pound. Cazneaux titled the photo “Spirit of endurance” and the tree itself is now known as the “The Cazneaux Tree”. This was to be our last stop before heading for Wilpena Pound.
We arrived at our accommodation and settled in, and before dinner we were welcomed to country by one of the elders.
Tomorrow morning we have our flights over Wilpena Pound – exciting!