the HOTEL only holds TWELVE people, so take it in turn SPORT! Part One

Jul 17, 2001

The Bottom Line The Flinders Ranges abound with wildlife from wedge-tailed eagles and emus to colourful parrots, and kangaroos

The warning bell has tolled - If you live in Adelaide, South Australia now is the time to run northwards as fast as you can.

It rained for almost two full days last week, the first time we have had any meaningful rain since last September. This is natures way of saying winter is only a few weeks away, and we all know it is mighty difficult to survive an Adelaide winter.

While the Northern Hemisphere basks in warmth, on this side of the world the temperature will drop to be in the bone chilling sixties. There is also the risk that once every twenty seven years snow will fall, up to an incredible half an inch deep.

So, what to do, where to go. But of course;
The Flinders Ranges and it's "Mid North" moderate climate, being only an hour and a half away and about ten degrees warmer, is a very popular option. Being the last port of call before the Outback means most of lifes necessities are freely available. Mid North is really a misnomer since it is nowhere near as far as the "middle of the north" but this title of the area has been accepted for decades.

The Flinders Ranges present a wide variety of climatic regions. On the plains north of Crystal Brook, the climate is temperate, with an annual rainfall of around 20 inches.

Further north, conditions become progressively more arid, with average annual rainfalls between 8 and 15 inches.
Autumn (fall) , winter and spring are by far the best seasons to visit, since even in winter daytime temperatures are generally mild, even though the nights are cool.

The Flinders Ranges abound with wildlife from wedge-tailed eagles and emus to colourful parrots, and kangaroos ,which are all indigenous to this area. Containing three national parks the Flinders are arguably one of Australia's most under-rated natural attractions. The Mid North has some of the richest agricultural and pastoral land in the state, with a valuable maritime and mining history , idyllic wine producing district and natural bushland adventures.

The historic Pichi Richi railway is a working railway museum which features restored steam trains, diesel rail-cars and carriages from the original Ghan railway. The train operates a three hour return journey through the Pichi Richi Pass to W7001shed Flat between March and November. Visitors can also tour the workshops.

Then there is the Arkaroola Astronomical Observatory, for the benefit of tourists. Clear night skies are frequent here, and the observatory's 14.2" telescope gives a good close-up view subject to light conditions and weather.

The Arkaroola-Mt. Painter Sanctuary and Historic Reserve is unique, with its rugged outback beauty and wildlife. It is steeped in history and dotted with geological monuments. The reserve offers a variety of experiences to visitors including hot springs, picturesque gorges, waterholes and rare wildlife.

The area around Arkaroola is rich in mineral deposits. Copper and zinc were mined last century at Yudnamutana and Wheal Turner where the traditional round Cornish smelters still stand. Old miners sites are dotted everywhere.

The radioactive Paralana Hot Springs, sixteen miles north of Arkaroola originate deep within the earth's crust along a great earth fracture. They are the last vestige of active volcanism in Australia, with near boiling water flowing from the ground.

A stunning tour of the ridges around Arkaroola has been described as the most spectacular scenic tour in Australia. The four wheel drive tour along narrow tracks passes over fantastic climbs, along razor back ridges and into deep gorges and valleys. Not for sufferers of vertigo, the tour passes the site of Australia's 1910 radium- uranium discovery and other old mine sites.

The Sliding Rock Copper Mine takes its name form a rock sloping into the creek. This site, fourteen miles from Beltana saw over 1,000 tonnes of copper ore mined until the workings were flooded in 1877. Now only ruins remain of the town that was once home to 400 people. The main ruin is the Rock Hotel, built in 1874.

The Blinman Hotel is a real education. I remember my first drink at the bar at the age of about eight as though it was yesterday. If you want to step back in time I can't think of a better place. Even the locals seem to be from the 1800's. The entire hotel only holds about twelve people, so everyone takes it in turn to go in and buy a drink which is then taken outside. It was Built in 1869 and is in absolutely original condition. An old miner's cottage, built in 1862, the Post Office (1862) and the Police Station (1874) are in the town's main street.

East of Blinman, the rugged terrain is broken by the placid rock pools of Chambers Gorge. There are good examples of Aboriginal rock carvings here.

Eighteen miles from Blinman, the Nuccaleena mine once promised to be the most productive in the northern Flinders Ranges. A number of substantial stone buildings appeared in 1860, and most still stand. The first steam engine used in this area was brought to Nuccaleena. A devastating three-year drought ended the mine's operations in 1866.

The Steam and Tractor Museum at Booleroo is a must. This museum houses a large display of stationary engines. The society restores and preserves antique steam engines, tractors, vehicles and farm implements. An annual display features more than 150 items.

Continued in Part Two

Nb resubmitted due to Epinions error

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