South Australian Outback
South Australia is a brilliant blend of great food and wine, with incredible experiences of nature. I was fortunate to enjoy another one of South Australia’s amazing experiences recently on an outback trip, courtesy of South Australian Tourism, Qantas Airways, and Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safari’s (www.gawlerrangessafaris.com). Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safari’s is owned and operated by a couple of passionate Aussies, Geoff and Rene Scholtz. They began operating their nature based tours in 1988, specialising in wildlife and nature. So for this unique three days I was treated to a safe, comfortable and uncrowded environment, where we absorbed the unpolluted sounds of nature, marvelled at the intoxicating colours of the landscape and soaked up the brightness of the stars while we sat around the campfire at night.
Operating out of Wudinna township, population just 600, along the Eyre Peninsular in the Gawler Ranges, Geoff and Rene host guests from all over the world who want to experience this little slice of Aussie heaven. Their mission is to send you home with the most memorable choice of the holiday you made in Australia. This is certainly what I left with. The Gawler Ranges are 600 kilometress to the north west of Adelaide on the Eyre Peninsular, easily accessible by flying into Port Lincoln, and being met by Geoff, or self driving to the town of Wudinna, another of Wilderness Safari’s pick up points on Highway One (enroute from Adelaide). If self driving, Geoff will securely store your vehicle free of charge for the duration of your tour. This unique outback location shows Australia at its best. Before our eyes we watched the diverse terrain change from semi desert to arid, to eucalypt woodlands, and all whilst we were driving through age-old volcanic outcrops and gorges. In the Spring this desert literally comes alive with a carpet of wildflowers covering its landscape… there are over one hundred species of birdlife - with colours that are so vivid and diverse! We were not disappointed to see the many breed of kangaroo, emu and wombat while on our safari. Our mode of transport was in an air-conditioned luxury 4WD vehicle, fully equipped and at the experienced hands of Geoff. All Wilderness Safari guides have a commitment to their guests comfort and a high priority to protect the environment in which you will travel. Just out of Port Lincoln, enroute to the Gawler Ranges, we visited a colony of wild koalas at Mikkira Station (www.mikkirakoalas.com). This station is about 30 kilometres out of Port Lincoln, and is a great place to stop off and see the many koalas and joeys in their natural habitat. The Station allows day visits and overnight camps, either in caravans or tents, and they provide flush toilets and hot showers, but no electricity. A permit is required to visit Mikkira Station.
Continuing on the Eyre Peninslar Highway, we drove past acres and acres of the spectacularly brilliant yellow of the canola fields. Canola being primarily used for food production as Canola oil, or margarine, and also for use in bread & pastry making and deep frying. A lot of the canola being exported to Europe. Moving onto Baird Bay, where we spent an amazing afternoon swimming and interacting with the unfed, untrained, totally wild Lions of the Sea, and bottlenose dolphins who chose to interact with us totally on their terms. In only their third year of operation, Rod and Simone have created this truly unique “Winter Adventure”. The stories they shared with us about some of the antics of the locals, “sea lions”, their rescues, and the celebrities who now reside at Queensland’s Seaworld park were just awesome. “Kangaluna Camp” consists of large 5-star luxury tents, each raised tent 5 x 7 metres with two rooms, private shower and toilet, queen double bed and two single standard beds, all set a good distance apart for privacy and each with its own amazing views. Our meals at camp were served in the open dining room, along with complimentary drinks. Each evening an amazing three course meal was served to us under candle lights and all prepared on site by Rene. Tenting one night we also got to experience the very unique and new to the camp “ Swagon” - " The Galaxy Suite" for the ultimate outdoor sleeping experience. This is a gorgeously renovated covered wagon with a purpose built Swag bed, where we could gaze at the stars all night long! The water in the camp is collected from the roofs over the tents and is the only water source. Techniques there are used for its preservation, but you still get to have the luxury of private showers and flushing toilets. These curved roofs help to cool the tents also, as they always keep the air flowing. When creating this unique site, no vegetation was removed, and the camp was designed and built around the natural fire breaks that the trees in this place create for their own protection. Our tour included walking on the surface of the endless white salt pan of Lake Gairdner, a salt lake like a piece of Antarctica, set in an amazing red landscape. The red dunes along the edges of the lake offer endless photo opportunities. We climbed an amazing natural formation called the Organ Pipes Amphitheatre, in the Yandinga Valley. This is made up of cigar shaped volcanic rock formations, which are claimed to be 1600 million years old. This is one of the worlds largest exposures of the volcanic rhyolite, also known as “organic pipes”. Pildappa Rock is also a spectacular stop off point. This rock has the highest and longest wave formations on the Eyre Peninsula, rivaling those of Western Australia's famous Wave Rock. From the top of Pildappa we experienced beautiful views of the surrounding farm land, and an unbroken view of the Gawler Ranges and Blue Sturts off to the north. Pildappa is also known for its deep gnamma holes, which ensure a virtually permanent water supply and like many granite outcrops around Australia it has an elaborate gutter system surrounding the base of the rock. Sunset drinks and nibbles at the edge of Sturt's Lake finished the day. All this included in Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safari’s itineraries and packages.
Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safari’s offer four options for touring over 4 days/3nights or 3 days/2 nights, along with the a new style of escorted Caravan Touring. This offers the freedom to explore the outback on a fully escorted and catered private tour with your designed itinerary. You travel or change route as you please, all in the comfort of a 6.5 metre luxurious trailer van towed by a Toyota Landcruiser driven by your own experienced guide. Which ever tour you choose to go with in Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safari’s, you are assured to come away with “the most memorable choice of the holiday you made in Australia“.