DAY TWO of the Flinders Ranges by Bike.
Wilpena Pound to Willow Springs, approx ~40 k.
A short biking day, or so we thought ! so time for photos, a short walk and coffee of course – Wilpena Tourist office makes a mean brew. Our camping gear was packed and Dave reckons it will get to Willow Springs well before us. We got on the bikes with high expectations of a great day exploring the country by bike.
Caffeine fuelled, we pedalled down to the Cazneaux Tree – made famous and named after the photographer who exhibited a photo of this River Red Gum, entitled “ The Spirit of Endurance’ in 1937 at an International Exhibition.
Our enthusiasm for biking on dirt after 9 kilometres of the main bitumen highway meant we missed a crucial turn off! Those small FRBB signs are hard to see when you’re blasting down the road, keeping an eye out for rocky bits and the other eye out for Kangaroos. So we added a further 15 k, to our days total. From this point on, we kept a close watch on the Garmin working out the kilometres to the next turn-off.
The farm track was easy riding as it wound though bush and then up into Dr Seuss country with tufts of greenery dotted randomly over red dirt hills. Our upwind progress surprised a few kangaroos, they either stayed still and pretended we couldn’t see them or bounded away gracefully at an enviable speed over rough ground.
The Appealinna Ruins provided a tumble of flat split rocks to sit on for lunch. Enough of the walls remained for us to work out the layout of the houses, and seemed to speak of the hope and heartbreak of the early white settlers. A sparse landscape with a big sky, would have offered many of the now familiar starry nights, but living through the drought in the 1880’s must have been devastating.
A tail wind pushes at our backs as we bike over flat pastoral land, grassy areas and many dry boulder strewn riverbeds before we cross the main road and head down between low hills to Willow Springs Station.
Nestled next to the Bunkers Conservation Range, Willow Springs is a working sheep station, home to 4 generations of the Reynolds family. Famous for SkyTrek ( a 4wd challenge ) it also holds great appeal for bush walkers, photographers and artists. And mountain bikers. It was long on our must see and do list.
It was also great to finally met Carmel, who was so helpful and encouraging when I started preplanning this trip. She is definitely the go-to person. We even scored a hut for one night (minimum stay is three nights) as there was one night spare between bookings. Lucky us.
It was lovely to walk around, explore and stretch our legs, basking in the late afternoon light and warmth. Our one night of luxury was appreciated, although we weren’t saddle sore yet, the next day was going to be our longest and a good nights sleep was a definite bonus.
Only 140 k to go.