This is a trip report of a 6 day overland trek through outback Australia.
Part 1: The return to Warraweena.
Warraweena in the Northern Flinders Ranges, South Australia. It is a private conservation park. Run by a highly charismatic ex-pat Swiss guy called Stony – the name, like his new homeland, no doubt adopted. Warraweena was also one of the first destinations we took our then new (to us) Land Cruiser. After that first visit it was definitely one of the best places I had been in a 4×4, and I was keen to get back – and as these things tend to go, 5 years went by, till I managed to make it happen again [in my defence we crammed an awful lot into those five years, road-tripped Europe, multiple 4×4 adventures in Australia, a year off driving around Australia, found a new path the health and fitness, did bikepacking – don’t fear your forties folks…].
On this trip our friend – The Accountant would be tagging along with his dog Kasper in his Range Rover.
Now, for regular followers it probably seems I’d given up on proper overland adventure. However it has been bubbling away in the background as we’ve got used to new jobs, routines, hobbies, etc. So a few changes to the set up prior to this trip. I’m now running BFG KM3 ‘mud’ tyres, after running the BFG all terrain pretty much mine entire 4×4 ownership – however the last set of KO2’s that we had for the second half of the round Australia trip were basically destroyed after thirty thousand km – so the switch to KM3 is as much about off road durability as technical ability, plus a new set of steelies in silver to brighten up the look of the Cruiser.
The camping set up remains essentially the same, I have considered other set ups and trialled a few things (such as sleeping inside the car), however the OzTent is still the best all round solution for what we do – we can be comfortable in nearly all conditions, go unsupported for at least a week, and yet everything still fits inside the vehicle, so we are unhindered in terms of off road ability. Our tent is definitely due for a replacement after about 15 years of regular use, including the year off around Australia. However it will soldier on for this trip at least.
I’m now running dual ‘Thumper’ batteries. One will run the fridge stand alone and all our other power requirements will come out of the new unit.
A few tweeks to the cooking set up – a Coleman dual fuel stove is now the main cooking piece, able to run Shellite fuel or unleaded petrol – the same as the Cruiser. A new hard anodized Trangia fits inside a lighter spun steel Bedourie camp oven. Also a new fire pit will allow easier cooking directly over coals.
Anyway, back to the trip. We meandered up to the town of Hawker, arranging to meet The Accountant there. It being the last stop for fuel and reliable phone service.
A couple of maps for reference:
Zoomed out for reference to the country as a whole.
Another hour or so up the bitumen before hitting dirt for the 35 km run out to Warraweena. A quick chat with Stony and managed to get camp set up before dark. This would be home for the next 3 nights.
Quickly cooked up some snags (sausages), a couple of whiskies and bed.
The next day was all about the Mt Gill track. Last time I drove this, I decided it was one of the best one day 4 wheelin’ drives in Australia. With 5 years more experience under my belt, would I still rate it so highly?
The track consists of mostly light off-roading through dry creek beds. With some more technical sections as when the creeks do run they move various rocks and obstacles. With an open climb up to summit of Mt Gill, around two thirds of the way into the 35km track. The drive takes about 5 hours, nearly all in low range.
The Cruiser in front of Mt Stuart. Named by and after John McDouall Stuart, as it was his main reference point for navigation in the region. I’ve talked about Stuart before, the explorer’s, explorer. Especially in this part of the world.
The tracks were getting a little more challenging.
I stopped for a mooch around this hut – Warraweena is an ex sheep station, this would have been a shepherds hut.
The Rover strutting its stuff off-road.
I’ve talked before about how impressive off road these Rangies are as a standard vehicle. However, safe to say we were getting to its limits on this track (to be fair the Cruiser was bumping its extremities too, but that’s why it’s got the steel bumpers, I should probably think of some proper sill protection though).
However, it still got round, one way or another. Can’t be too precious with an off road vehicle.
Out of the creek beds, the climb up to Mt Gill started.
Xanthorrhoea Australis in full flower on the way up.
Good view at the top? Yeah, not bad.
You can see for probably 30km in every direction, and you cannot see any signs of civilisation.
A better lunch spot I am yet to find, and I’ve found plenty!
Eventually back in the creeks, a bit more wheeling, before connecting back to the main station tracks and an easy drive back to camp.
A few battle scars on the Rover. Luckily all plastic trim pieces, an easy fix.
Back to camp in plenty of time to cook up Italian Hunters Chicken, from what was an excellent birthday present from my parents.
My initial plan for the next day was to do one of the other station tracks. No doubt less spectacular than the Mt Gill track, but it would have been new ground for me. However, sometimes you just go with your gut. So that most underrated of days on a big trip, the rest day, so it was.
We all did our own thing, a bit of a ‘me’ time is always good. The Accountant walked Kasper up to the homestead. I hiked a nearby ridge. N hung out with our dogs and did crochet.
A few shots from my hike.
This plant looks similar to the Pigface plant we have at home, just smaller and thornier.
The views and rock formations were good up here. I did also see the rare yellow footed rock wallaby, but he was way too swift to even get the phone out of the pocket, let alone get a photo.
Hiking up here. I had to remind myself that where I was standing was once the bottom of an ocean.
Fire roasted chicken and marinated lamb wraps for dinner.
Warraweena saw us out in fine style for our last night.
So how do I feel about this place 5 years on from our first visit? No different. Out of all these private properties opened up for camping a 4×4 driving this is still the best I’ve been too, by far. Easily the most spectacular scenery, the Mt Gill track is challenging enough to be fun, without any real dangerous parts. Stony is a legend with a real passion for this property.
It needs more publicity though. Almost no one talks about it these days. Having a website isn’t enough any more, and there is a heap more competition than there was 5 years ago. With many stations opening up to the 4×4 & camping crowd. I would be interested to see what a marketing company could do to make it a more sustainable business. I’ll promote it in my own small way. I’m kinda glad in a way we didn’t do the extra tracks today, it gives me more of a reason to come back. I just hope it’s not another 5 years before I do.
Tomorrow we hit the road.
Thanks for reading. More to follow.