Monthly Archives: June 2011

Hiking at Wilpena Pound

Another day, another hike. This time we headed for Wilpena Pound and Mount Ohlssen-Bagge, which is also in the Flinders Ranges. Jason preempted this hike by saying its shorter and steeper than Dutchmans Stern and required several sections of rock climbing (not rock scrambling). This was enough to convince me to take the longer (about 7 km return, I think) but flatter track. About half of the group also took this option and together we had a nice walk along a river at the base of the mountain.

This hike was a lot more suited to me than the ones we’d done so far. The pace was leisurely and we often stopped for photos. There weren’t any treacherous areas that needed all of your attention. You could easily walk and talk (and chew gum if you had it) at the same time without fear that you’d trip and fall on your face. Along the way we saw wallabies and goats just hanging out on the mountainside. So cool.

After our hike, we met up for lunch at the bus. Today it was a delicious chicken and veggie wrap. By now we were all in the groove of helping in the kitchen to chop of vegetables or wash up dirty dishes. It was like we were our own little family with chores to do. Weird but fun.

After lunch we saw two wild kangaroos hanging around the campsite. Jason said it was a mom and her joey, who he had watched grow up over that past year. Mom had another baby in her pouch now, but the two siblings didn’t compete for milk. He told us that a joey suckles from the same teat until he is weaned.

Slide Album: Wilpena Pound

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Eating Kangaroo, Camel and Buffalo

When we got back to The Mill, Jason cooked up some food on the barbecue, and I was happy to finally get some red meat with dinner. Most of our other meals were heavy on the vegetables, which I’m generally not a fan of but ate anyway. However, when I sat down at the table I noticed that people were not digging right in. They were carefully cutting the pieces of meat instead of shoveling it down as I had intended. That’s when I figured out we weren’t eating regular meat. We had kangaroo steaks, camel sausages and buffalo patties.

Traveling puts you into situations you’d never experience at home and pushes you to your physical, emotional and psychological limits. But, I think when you travel you become a different person than you are a home. You’re more open to try new things just to see how things work out.

So, with that in mind, I dug right into the kangaroo, which was apparently cooked medium rare to keep it soft and moist. At home, a medium rare steak is a no go because I don’t like seeing the red meat or having the meat bleed when I cut into it. Luckily, the lighting above us was bad so I couldn’t see either (or maybe the kangaroo meat doesn’t bleed as much as beef?). The kangaroo meat was very soft and chewy. It was really good and didn’t have as much fat as beef does. You could maybe compare it to eating veal?

Next, I dug into the camel sausages, which I found to have a slight kick to them. I’m not sure if this was due to the meat itself (is this what they mean when they say meat tastes gamey?) or if added flavors made the sausage spicier. In either case, I really liked them and they tasted different. Shaped like jelly beans, the sausages were curved and about three inches in diameter. Like the kangaroo, they seemed pretty lean because hardly any oil came out when I cut into them.

Lastly, I had the buffalo patties. They were about the size of a brown ‘n serve beef patty you’d eat for breakfast. They tasted good as well and seemed lean. I can’t pinpoint anything specific about what they tasted like, although they definitely didn’t taste like beef or pork. The patty texture was similar though.

It could be because I was meat-starved by the time we ate this or just starving in general, but the kangaroo, camel and buffalo all tasted really good. Maybe it’s because I’m a true carnivore at heart and any kind of meat is good meat?

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Climb Every Mountain – Dutchmans Stern

We began our third tour, seven days from Adelaide to Alice Springs, with a dreadlock-wearing Aussie named Jason. It was definitely an interesting look for a tour guide but to each his own. The first song from his iPod to hit the airwaves – what else but something by Jack Johnson. I have not heard so much Jack Johnson in my life, and he’s a Hawaii boy! Every tour guide so far has an ample supply of his tunes, so I can only assume he’s very popular here.

We started the day with a long drive and stopped in Claire and Melrose before reaching a town called Quorn. Adventure Tours owns a place called The Mill, which had a main house and two separate buildings for rooms. It would serve as our home base for the next day or two.

After a quick lunch of hamburgers grilled on the barbie (haven’t heard any Aussie use this expression so it could just be a stereotype), we headed to the Flinders Ranges to hike up Dutchmans Stern. This hike was about 6 km return because we didn’t do the entire loop, but it was hard enough as is. The trail started off nicely on a semi-rocky path that led us from the car park to the base of the mountain. Once at the mountain, the terrain got rough. The small stone trail gave way to a hard, uneven rocky surface that I somehow wasn’t expecting.

I suppose I’ve never really been hiking in the mountains before so I didn’t know what to expect. In Hawaii, the paths are usually dirt and grass and mostly level. They may include inclines depending on where you’re hiking, but the ground is soft. Here it was all rocks and no grass. Thank goodness I bought proper hiking boots before doing this trip because I couldn’t imagine doing it in the street shoes I brought from home. My bad ankles would never make it.

As it was, the hike was brutal for me. Again, I’m not in the best of shape and the constant unevenness of the path, multiple switchbacks and the sometimes severe incline left me gasping for air. I had to take many breaks along the way, but I took my time and did my best. When I finally reached the top, it was very rewarding. What an amazing view! I’m glad I didn’t give up halfway through and am proud of myself for finishing it (although I don’t think I would have willingly done this hike on my own and don’t ever plan to do it again)!

Slide Album: Dutchmans Stern

The hike down the mountain was just as much a killer. Instead of pulling your body uphill, you’re trying to slow yourself down. You can’t even take in the sights (you could see for miles) because you’re always concerned about your footing and the unstable rocks.

Next, we headed to Warren Gorge where we tried to spot yellow-footed rock wallabies. It was tough because our group was large and with that came unwanted noise that probably scared them off. But, we managed to find a few wallabies as dusk fell. It was surprising how agile these animals were as they jumped from rock to rock. After successfully conquering Dutchmans Stern and finding the terminally shy rock wallabies, we headed back to The Mill.

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