Flinders Ride (2)

Day Three ctd.
It's 25 km out to the Morolana turn off and the road passes through some delightful country, especially the Arkaba Hills. Morolana Drive is good quality metal road. The corrugations are currently easy to handle, and there is not too much of that deep slushy gravel that can bring you undone on a pushbike.

I ride 700 x 28 Flatfighter tyres at around 85 psi. On a flat bar hybrid these handle metal roads with ease. The only enemy is sand.

The road passes through two pastoral leases. The (east) Arkaba side is currently unstocked and has places that look a bit like Mt Pleasant countryside at the end of summer: large gums on savannah grassland.

The Mern Morna side comes as a shock at the grid. It's heavily stocked, and looks as bare as a city farmer's horse paddock. Sheep beat the life out of arid lands. There is no salt bush so the land is bare.

Hard Grazing Mern Mora Station

I had planned to ride up the Leigh Creek Road and camp near the Brachina Gorge turn off, but the sight of Mern Morna offering cheap accommodation was too tempting. I had a good night's sleep and since it rained overnight, it meant I did not have to pack a wet tent in the morning.

Day Four (Brachina KML File)
It was finally cooler, as promised. But the cool was accompanied by a howling northerly. I am not sure I have ever ridden into a worse head wind. It was a long struggle up to the Brachina turn off, somewhat ameliorated by spectacular views of the Flinders under heavy cloud. I was beginning to wonder if I would have time for the last leg of the trip up to Blinman. That 25km would normally have been easily done in little more than an hour; it took more like two.

Vegetation Regeneration -  of a sortThe Flinders under cloudThe Flinders under cloud


I was greeted at the Brachina Road by a road works sign. There is nothing worse than freshly graded road. All the gutters and bulldust holes are filled with gravel, everything "floats," and riding is dangerous and difficult. Fortunately they were doing the road in short stages. The first part is metal, corrugated, but easily navigable if you stay away from the edges where the gravel is often quite deep.

The Old Railway BedRoad Plant Sign Mud Road into Brachina Gorge

The last two thirds in to the base of the range are a compressed mud road. They dig it up deep, dragging all the topsoil off to the edges and then grade layers back over the road, watering each layer heavily, and then running a roller over the top. After a couple of days it is rock hard until the next rain, and great to ride on. But the section they were working on was a cross between deep mud and soft damp beach sand. I had to walk the bike for around 3km to stay safe.

Brachina Begins

Brachina Gorge is spectacular. It's 10km in, 10km creek/gorge, and 10km out to the Blinman – Wilpena bitumen. As soon as I reached the range it rained. It rained for the rest of the day.

Fortunately the wind dropped in the range, so I was not too cold. Much of the road is in the creek itself, but is comprised of large rock and well compressed gravel, so even with a loaded road tourer it is easily navigable if you take care. My problem was with the little jump ups that cut the creek corners. Anything over 4% resulted in an immediate loss of traction due to the mud. When I cleaned up the bike back home it looked like I had had the brake blocks in the wrong place! The mud build up had begun to strip off the paint and decals in towards the centre line of the rim.

 At one point there were dozens of little frogs skipping across the road in the rain, ranging from 4-5mm up to perhaps 20 mm at full stretch. I have no idea where these can come from at the beginning of summer! I was well up out of the creek at this stage.

Back on the bitumen it was still raining. Out of the main range the wind was well above 20km/h. Despite wet weather gear I was cold. I had raised a blister− now raw− on one butt cheek and regretfully decided that if I continued north into all that I would not get back to work on schedule. I headed south for Wilpena, but discovered a verandah out of the wind at the old Oraparinna rangers' station and stopped there. After a quick tea I was in the swag by 6.30 pm. It was the only warm place, unless I wanted to kip down on the floor of the public toilet or put up the tent in a rainy gale!

By 7.30 there were blue patches of sky− Murphy's Law, but the long night meant I enjoyed a star scape we never see here in Adelaide.

More... Oraparinna to Elizabeth

Copyright ^Top