Celebrating my birthday Aussie-style!
As winter started to draw closer in Adelaide, I was worried the hot weather would run out before my birthday got here.
As it turned out, that weekend was the perfect time to go as we caught the first few days of sunshine in a while and managed to leave just as the rain came.
And so, with our… decorative… campers packed and prepped, we headed off on Friday afternoon.
On our way we decided to stop by Lake Bambunga, one of Australia’s great Pink Lakes.
Alright, not very pink in this photograph.
The dusky sky didn’t provide great lighting for the lake, but being there in that moment was incredible.
The ground was slowly getting more red as we travelled further into the outback and we spent a little time enjoying the dim sunset by the lake.
There’s that pink colour!
We decided to skip our next stop since we ran out of time.
Not really sure how that happened.
Maybe less climbing trees next time…
The sun set much faster than expected and soon we were surrounded by darkness. And even as beautiful as that sun set was, in the Flinders Ranges it meant one thing: Kangaroos
They were everywhere.
We had to drive ridiculously slowly since every thirty seconds a kangaroo or wallaby would SPRINT across the road RIGHT in front of us.
The hoppers had a death wish.
It often came down to a staring match. Which we would lose.
We were on their territory.
And yet, we were treated to the best surprise the following morning.
We opened our van doors and two kangaroos fearlessly hopped right up to our door.
They were not scared at all and seemed so curious about us.
All of the wildlife in the area behaved like this and we had a difficult time getting started on our adventure while these little critters were around.
So, we tore ourselves away and headed off!
And this was were the fiasco started…
As we left the campsite we realised we had not downloaded our maps for the area and had to guess our way around the ranges.
And so, ten minutes behind schedule, we found the Cazneaux Tree.
Described by Harold Cazneaux in 1937 as The Spirit of Endurance, the 95 foot tree dominates the otherwise flat surrounding area.
We then headed off towards Bunyeroo Valley, where the rolling and sharp features of the ranges really started to take shape.
And only a short drive from here was Razorback Lookout.
Eager to see the view, I reached the lookout before my friends.
This proved to be a smart move as they didn’t hear my shriek when the bushes in front of me started to rustle.
A tall red kangaroo bounced out, spotted me, froze, then bounded down the hill out of sight.
And then of course no one believed I had seen one…
The next part of the journey was where we discovered our second problem: these roads hadn’t properly been covered by our maps at all, so the next foot of our journey was sheer guess work.
This included heading to what we thought was St Mary’s Peak, actually travelling in circles, finding ourselves back where we started and eventually giving up
Now an hour and a half behind schedule, we continued on to Brachina Gorge.
We’re still not entirely sure if we found it, but we did find some nice caves in that… general area…
And once again we found ourselves in more trouble.
Almost literally struck by disaster.
You see, those caves were high, higher than they look. And we had to climb them to get up there.
As we climbed, one boulder (and I do mean BOULDER) came loose and tumbled down the cliff, nearly striking my friend’s head. She moved at the very last second and just managed to avoid catastrophe.
We found a better route up the cliff and found a moment to relax at the top before continuing.
And not twenty minutes later we were struck AGAIN by the cruel hand of fate as we got one of our vans stuck off the road.
The next half hour became a team-building exercise of scraping the dirt away from the wheels, using branches to clear the underside and having all eight of us push the van out of the ditch.
Only for us to find yet ANOTHER problem down the road as the harsh road completely destroyed our tyre…
The nuts were screwed so tight it took the combined strength of the three lads to loosen them, the spare tyre was stuck under the van and the van itself was so old there was the possibility of the jack its underside.
All of this while the nearing sunset provided a timer we had to race.
This then meant we had to skip our final two destinations and head back to our campsite…
…Before the kangaroos dominated the road again.
God knows how many hours behind schedule we were at this point!
That night was a cluster of thieving kangaroos, adorable ‘camping’ birthday cakes, the best outdoor fire Flinders has ever seen and my first experiment with s’mores courtesy of my American friends.
And the following day the rain came but we were headed home, having finished our little adventure and all the troubles that came with it!
In many ways, all the problems and setbacks we experienced were what made our trip special.
We were all tested at some stage or another and had to problem-solve our way out of FAR too many situations.
And yet, these times were when we bonded with each other the most.
And towards the end the sheer number of problems just became funny.
Every now and then something would happen and we wouldn’t even be shocked.
The moment the tyre blew (disintegrated entirely) we all stared at it for a few moments and then fell about laughing.
Sometimes all you can do it laugh!
The Flinders Ranges was one of my favourite trips in Australia so far, with a fantastic group of people whose great attitude and constant good humour really made this trip incredible.
Their ability to laugh at every obstacle and tackle it as a team made my birthday more memorable than I could have hoped.
And what more could I have wished for?
Until next time!