Day 25: Wilpena Pound to Beltana

This leg of the journey took us deeper into the outback of South Australia.  The day was filled with the incredible beauty of this remote part of the world.

We started with a hike in Wilpena Pound which began in a dense eucalyptus forest.  We saw a few emus along the way.  They tend to look like they are drunk when they are running away from you.  We climbed up to a couple overlook points at the Wangarra Lookout.  The surrounding area was stunning, looking like a large meteor crater.   According to the Adnyamathanha dreamtime stories, the walls of Wilpena Pound took shape from two snakes that gorged themselves on humans and became so full they died in that spot.  The area is a sweeping panorama of sky, rock and trees.

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We hiked back to the van and drove up to a viewpoint called Hucks Lookout, an amazing vista overlooking Wilpena Pound.  The view was nothing short of spectacular.

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As we drove further north, the land became more desertlike, fewer and fewer trees, and more rugged terrain.  Instead of bridges, the roads just traverse the watercourses (typically no water is there).  In case of flooding, the crossings have gauges so you can try to judge the depth before attempting to pass.  Eventually the mountains ended and we rode into a relatively flat desert.

We paused in the lonely hamlet of Parachilna, enjoying some photo opportunities in the tubs in front of the Prairie Hotel and a refreshing glass of Coopers, a local South Australian brew.

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By mid-afternoon, we reached our accommodation, the Beltana Sheep Station.  It is a working sheep station with basic but cozy sleeping quarters. The place felt so remote, like something I’d imagine out in West Texas, but even more inaccessible.  The station has a museum with some old artifacts from its history as well as photographs from the past, old maps, antique furniture and other relics.  The sunset was so enchanting this evening.  It wasn’t a dramatic, cloud filled sunset with tons of color, but just a line of light disappearing into the horizon.  You could see Venus shining bright in the sky as the sunlight faded into the west.

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