I am back in Adelaide. My first driver was coming here 10 days earlier. Meantime I had another 15 rides and hiked 120 km. The road to Perth is still long, but I want to see more. Many people recommended Flinders Ranges to me and I want to check what the fuss is all about.
In the morning, I say bye to Eric and walk 200 metres to the nearest bus stop. I aim at the petrol station and a crossroad North of Adelaide. Public transport is sparse, it takes me 2 hours to reach the area that interest me. I leave the bus and start to walk towards the motorway. It’s longer distance so just in case my hand is up and I thumb passing by cars. Suddenly a car stops on the opposite site of the road and a girl offers me a lift to Port Wakefield. A trio of sisters are heading the same direction, sweet. Relaxed and entertained, I arrive to hitchhiker`s paradise.
The petrol station in Port Wakefield is a great place to catch a ride. You can find here easily a longer ride towards Melbourne, Perth or Port Augusta and Darwin. I succeed within 5 minutes. Bernie is on his holiday, he likes company and is eager to help. He has been working as teacher with remote aboriginal communities. Now he enjoys his long holiday. We drive by dried up salt lakes which create an amazing contrast with the red and brown ground surrounding them and a blue sky. The weather changes soon and we encounter a sand storm. Luckily we brush just the edge of it. Bernie goes of his path and delivers me to the road heading straight to Quorn and Flinders Ranges.
It is still windy, sand and dust in the air are targeting my eyes. I quickly understand how dangerous a sandstorm can be. Quorn is a small town with a population over a 1000 people. It’s not easy to hitch in this area. I already gathered info about the best trails and I am determined to see them.
I am very lucky. I’m picked up by Minette who lives in Quorn. From word to word she offers me to stay at her second house, which is empty at the moment. Together with her husband David, they plan to fix it and sell it. We visit their house and share a cup of tea. I get keys to their spare place. Minette offers to pick me up and take me to the start of the trail the next day. We schedule our ride. I relax and organise in my new home. My bag is safe, I have electricity and hot shower… I’m speechless and grateful. I go for a walk during the sunset. I watch kangaroos and colourful birds singing. Some of the species I see for the first time. I’m so happy.
Dutchman’s Stern is one of the hikes recommended to me. Minette drops me at the starting point and promise to pick me up in few hours. 10 km long circular trail is an easy walk. The panoramic view of nearby ranges and encountered goats are the highlight of rather mediocre hike.
Minette offers to take me to see few more spots on the way to Devil’s Peak. Warren Gorge impress me. Movements of tectonic plates pushed rocks upwards creating interesting formations. Minette mentioned that a bunch of yellow footed rock wallabies can be seen in the area. Unfortunately we couldn’t spot any this time.
Hawker planes, kilometres of dessert and salt bush reminded me of a challenge ahead and filled with nostalgia. I look at horizon and wonder. What is waiting for me there?
While walking back to the car Minette finds Shingleback lizard. It is a smaller version of the lizard I found hiking Heysen trail days earlier. I’m surprised how big are scales covering its body. It feels like I’m holding a young dragon in my hands.
Devil’s Peak trail is located on a private land and might be closed during the summer until mid April due to fire danger in the area. Today the trail is open. I am excited. The walk itself is short, but more steep than Dutchman`s Stern. I enjoy it quite a bit. At the top I find a company. Jasmine is moving back to outback to work as a driver in the mine. She left her office job in big city, she wants something different. A pleasant chat and lunch while enjoying the view.
St. Mary peak trail supposed to be the best one in the area. The problem is distance. It is 120 km away at Wilpena Pound, a quite remote area. Next morning, shortly after sunrise, I am hitching at the outskirts of Quorn. In 2 hours 10 cars pass by, but none of them stops. I am killing time watching horses in nearby corral.
Anna is driving from Port Augusta to Wilpena Pound where she is working. She asks me to hop in and we drive through empty Hawker planes. She asks me when I plan to go back and offer a lift 3 days later. I thank her, I don’t plan to stay longer. I want to complete trail and hitch back to Quorn the same day. I ask her several questions about the campsite and gather some precious info.
I decide to hike the outside trail to St. Mary Peak. It supposed to be shorter, but more steep and with better views. First hour of walk is quite relaxed. Soon I need to stop and take a break. The trail is marked, but I get lost. I’m quite deep into the shrub when I hear voices. I manage to find a way back to the trail and look more carefully for small blue marks.
The final climb is refreshing. I actually use hands for support and need to balance my body. The view from the top is amazing. The trail is definitely the best of all three I completed. It took longer than I expected and was more difficult but also very rewarding.
Hitching back isn’t going well. I end up having a supper in the restaurant 30 km south of Wilpena. A meet a friendly guy from New Zealand who is working as a shearer locally. He offers me a roof and I happily accept. We are staying in a shed and sleep next to a bunch of sheep. It is a rough night. Once I get used to vocal animals, I am woke up by a passing storm. Banging doors, crying sheep and howling wind. The idea of me camping outside… I could fly away with my tent.