Friday, August 14, 2009

Gawler Ranges

While doing research for our trip to Coober Pedy and the SA Outback, I kept coming across the Gawler Ranges, but didn't pay much attention to them because they were a bit out of the way. Then when planning our trip to Eyer Peninsula, once again the name came up with some pictures and we decided we just had to go for a visit.
So after our night at Streaky Bay (see post Exploring the Western Coast of Eyre Peninsula) we headed for the hills. With the wind carved cliff and sandy dunes behind us, we entered the rural farming community of Minnipa--the gateway for the Gawler Ranges. Our first stop was Pildappa Rock: a cross between the Uluru's great monolith and Hyden's spectacular Wave Rock. A climb to the top of the large reddish pink monolith provided us with an excellent view.
View From Top Pildappa Rock

Surfing the Wave

The track from Pildappa to the Gawler Ranges National park provided some spectacular scenery. Due to an abudance of winter rain the contrast of colors in the bush was incredible. Each layer seemed to have it's own color of green!

The Bush

As tempting as it was to focus on the striking scenery, we did have to keep our eyes on the road. We didn't want to run over any of the reptiles that were warming themselves in the sun. Though most of them would begin their scurry to safety with plenty of time. We did see one skink who was a bit slow on his feet and we pulled over for a photo op. I knew he wasn't a happy little guy when he stuck his tongue out at me!

Blue Tongue Skink

After about a 50 km drive we finally reached the entry to the Park, and from here we still had another 30 minutes-on a strictly 4WD access-to arrive at the Organ Pipes. The final destination was well worth the journey. It was here that we were able to view the natural wonder of columnar joints. The Gawler Ranges information booklet explains that these multi-sided pillar like formations were formed millions of years ago when cooling volcanic ash condensed. Organ Pipes, which is located in a very rocky gorge, is an example of hundreds, if not thousands, of these pillars. It was easy to see how the site got its name. After a quick lunch we once again hit the road. Due to the large number of kilometers that we would have to cover we kept additional stops to a minimum. But we continued to be amazed by the scenery.
Gawler National Park would be one of those places that we would revisit if there were more hiking trails. Unfortunately, the only trail in the Park was the 1/2 km we did to the Organ Pipes. However, it is a true gem and a natural wonder that was well worth the visit.

Organ Pipes


  1. That last pic looks quite a bit like the Giant's Causeway!

  2. I love your photos--and you writing also. A great education on Land of OZ. My very favorite is lunchtime under the umbrellas-or is it brellies?