Leigh Creek and Arkaroola

We headed north of Adelaide, South Australia, beyond the Flinders Ranges, along the Explorer’s highway, to Leigh Creek. Strictly speaking, it is almost in the centre of the state.

The drive there is varied along the Pt Wakefield Road and we discovered a unique little stop just after Pt Pirie, where you could buy homemade wurst, sausages, pickles and jams, Crocodile or roo (kangaroo) burgers or pick up pastries. It’s called Harry’s.

A good road takes you to Quorn and then Hawker and past the Ranges. It is picturesque and you can catch some good views if your timing is right. The drive took us 6 and a half hours.

The traditional owners are the Adnyamathanha people and its importance to the new arrivals of the 1800s was the discovery of coal. In its heyday, mid-1970, there were around 2000 residents who all worked in the mine or the town. At that time, a large underground coal deposit was discovered under the town, resulting in the relocation of Leigh Creek, 22kms south ( http://www.leighcreeksa.com.au/about/). The coal mine closed in 2015 and the population has dropped to around 100, so it has a ghost town feel to it, although the local shopping precinct still operates a motel, hotel, post office, supermarket, tourist centre, health centre, Area school, petrol station and possibly other services.

We took a couple of drives out from Leigh Creek, each day we were there. The first saw us take the Copley turn-off to Arkaroola. We thought the 130km dirt road would take about 3 hours, return, but it is easily 2 hours each way. The road is kept in good condition but I think we should have deflated the tyres for comfort. It is a very pretty drive, through hills, which might be the Gammon Ranges, and if we had made an earlier start we would have stopped at the art gallery just outside Nepabunna.

Arkaroola Resort and Wilderness Sanctuary has a great deal to offer the traveller – observatory, 4WD tours and trails, walks, geology, cultural trails and a variety of accommodation. We were disappointed that we hadn’t known all the potential, but we were intending to explore a 4WD tour and a walk, finally settling on a walk due to time constraints and cost. The Resort has tea and coffee for a gold coin donation, provided incredible service for maps and information and had good souvenirs. There is a tired area that offers some histroy and information and a platform for taking a shot of the town.

We decided on the Kingsmill Falls Walk and used the info in the rec room as well as the maps. It wasn’t straight forward but we found the Ochre Wall and went from there.

Once again, we found ourselves wondering what it would look like with water flowing through, but it was definitely easier to walk the gorge this way.

It was an easy 45 minutes and we could have made it longer or shorter. There are many walks from which to choose and whether you travel in winter or summer, take water and a hat with you.

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