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.