We were so excited to take our first group to South Australia’s iconic Flinders ranges over the Melbourne Cup long weekend. We put together a tour that lead from Adelaide, climbing all three peaks of the ranges and bringing together a group of singles, couples, and strangers to form a fun, community of friends by the end of the trip. As always the trip included many jokes, delicious home cooked meals, comfortable accommodation with lovely hot showers and a pool, and of course breathtaking bush walks.
After pick up from Adelaide Airport we made a quick exit to get straight on the road. After several toilet stops, the occasional stop to pull out the pot for some fresh tea and coffee, and even one to a country pub for a sneaky booze run, we made it to our first walk, Alligator Gorge. The road was a bit daring in a bus, so we decided not to chance it with the trailer filled with a good few slightly oversized bags (you know who you are!) so we ripped the trailer off and set off to the gorge.
Alligator Gorge was a truly delightful surprise, with many of the group finding it to be the best gorge they had ever walked in. It was a welcome two hour break to stretch the legs after a long day of travelling, and a great way for the group to get to know each other. Although a steep walk in parts the chitter chatter of the group as new friendships were formed made it much easier.
We jumped back on the bus for the final leg of our journey, and after more toilet stops, again, we arrived at Rawnsley Park to get settled into our accommodation. We all settled into a delicious dinner together, bringing everyone even closer together, before getting an early night ahead of a jam packed day two.
The second day promised a magnificent day of walking, as we were doing not one, but two peaks. We started at the easier (although no less wonderful) Mt Olssen Bagge, where we got our first glimpse across the Flinders Ranges iconic Wilpena Pound. After a delicious and healthy lunch to keep everyone full of energy for the day, we had a little bit of a treat and enjoyed a sneaky ice cream as a reward.
The afternoons walk was up Rawnsley Bluff, which wasn’t so much a walk as a scramble. The wind had died down leaving a very warm day, but everyone did an exceptional job making it to the top! This walk was very much about team work, although a couple of people got lost, everyone encouraged each other, offering a helping hand to pull each other up and over the rocks. The group was also introduced to the good old ‘Adventure Metres’, a new navigational tool they won’t forget in a hurry. This day in particular was fantastic for us to be a part of, seeing the whole group come together as a team, with the old ‘you are only as fast as your slowest companion’ meaning the group accomplished this walk together. It was no easy walk, so Adrian carried a few bottles of wine up the top for us all to enjoy, however no one seemed interested so he carried it all the way down again as well…
That night everyone crashed quite hard, but with a sense of elation after sharing a delicious meal together all on the high of the days achievements.
For the final day of walking there was the small matter of a 4:30am wake up call, which probably wasn’t everyone’s idea of pleasant (in particular Tracey’s), however we had to be on the trail by 5:30am to get the ambience of the early morning and to be witness to one of the most stunning sunrises you can see anywhere in Australia.
This walk was St Mary’s Peak. It was the hardest and furthest some of the group had ever walked before, however with the gusto and enthusiasm they had while undertaking it you would never have known. We were all so impressed by the group and their achievement, hands were held to help each other up, and their were claps and tears of delight as we stood together as a group of friends and took in the full panoramic view of the Flinders Ranges, taking in the peaks we had climbed the previous day. There was absolutely no one in sight, and it was honestly one of the most fantastic experiences we have experienced on any Take Shape Adventures trip.
Adrian carried lunch up, but once again no one seemed keen, so we let him carry it all the way down again, just like the wine. We got back to our accommodation and enjoyed a very relaxing dip in the pool, before finally cracking into that wine around the campfire with a few well deserved marshmallows after dinner. We also have to say we have never had so many helping hands in the kitchen before on an adventure, making mealtimes even more fun and relaxing!
On our last day after getting up and enjoying breakfast and saying goodbye to the fantastic Rawnsley Park we set off on the road back to Adelaide, but not without a few pit stops. The first was Geoff Morgan Museum, which proved to be a real surprise and delight! It consisted of 360 panoramic paintings of the ranges, allowing us to sit back and look at everything we had seen and achieved over the previous few days. We then enjoyed our last meal together at Germain Pier, the longest pier in the Southern hemisphere. Some of us even had a quick dip in the ocean which was delightfully refreshing on sore muscles.
This adventure wasn’t always an easy one, and everyone approached it from different fitness levels, and levels of bushwalking experience. It takes a lot of courage to take on a journey such as this with a group of strangers, however everyone became so close many even started planning their next adventures, asking other members of the group if they would be coming along as well. We had many fun jokes between the group, and we all saw baby Emu’s in the wild for the first time, our driver even did a brilliant job avoiding hitting them along the way as we started to spy more and more out the windows.
This trip wasn’t always just a hike, sometimes it was a scramble. The scenery was unlike what many of us are used to with the hot sun and vivid blue skies contrasting against the red desert of the Australian outback and dry creek beds. The sunshine itself was a part of the joy everyone felt as it had been so long since many of it felt it!