4x4 Adventures in Flinders Ranges - From Willow Springs to Alpana Station
Where Is Willow Springs?
Day 8: Willow Springs Station to Koolamon Campgrounds
On our 8th day, we awoke to the sound of light rain on the tents which thankfully subsided as dawn broke and the camp started to awaken. Best night’s sleep we’ve had so far.
Our first task of the day was to shoot a vlog to describe the beautiful morning at Willow Springs station, filmed standing in a dry creek bed. Willow Springs (formerly known as Appealinna) is one of the early pastoral leases in the Flinders Ranges. Today, this 28,300 hectares property serves as a working sheep station and offers a range of great outback activities. The scenery at Willow Springs Station is spectacular just about everywhere you look!
That morning, we also sought some help from the Yamaha generator to power up the espresso machine for some morning flat whites and cappuccinos for the team, but those hopes were quickly dashed when the coffee machine went into a self-cleaning mode. Fortunately, we had instant coffee as the back-up plan.
Now here comes the best part of our morning, ladies and gents: an outback breakfast consists of bacon and eggs! Once the team’s bellies were full again, we got organised for the day's activities.
Dave briefed the team that we’d be filming on the property today, so we could leave our tents and swags to dry out during the morning. After that, we headed off for one of the reasonably steep tracks on the property which was the test track for towing the vans for that day’s filming.
We had lunch at the camp kitchen and then left Willow Springs to film the Aroona Gorge track. However, overcast conditions were not ideal. So we changed plans and drove instead to the Aroona Homestead ruins to film the Gorge Drive the next day. The team camped up at Koolamon Campgrounds. If you’re looking for a bbq night or a cozy campfire experience, Koolamon Campgrounds offers decent shade, shared fire pits and bbq plates. The site also gave us stunning views of the landscape where we filmed some fantastic content as the light faded.
Day 9: Bunyeroo Valley Lookout to Leigh Creek
On day 9, we were welcomed by probably the coldest morning we’ve had so far. The temperature was chilly, but we enjoyed a stunning morning with some light fog rolling into the valley. After a hearty breakfast, we headed out of camp to drive the Bunyeroo Gorge that features a stunning track through an ancient river bed which comes out onto a ridge that meanders up to the Bunyeroo Valley Lookout.
From this lookout, you can appreciate some of the most majestic views looking down the valley to the Flinders Ranges, with sedimentary layers of distinctly different colours clearly visible amongst the sparse vegetation of the area.
After this, we headed to Brachnia Gorge for another amazing drive through another ancient river bed whilst filming the caravans being towed through a rocky section of the river bed.
We then continued driving through the gorge and back out into more open country, back to the Outback Highway, headed to Parachilna for a gourmet lunch platter and an ice cold Fargher Lager at the iconic Prairie Hotel.
The hotel was established 1876, and is currently undergoing a major renovation. Prairie Hotel is repositioning itself as boutique lodge showcasing a classic warm ambience that calls for a glass of house brewed beer! Our fine dining escapade at Prairie Hotel featured some beautifully prepared native proteins, such as slow braised Kangaroo, Emu Liver Pate, Goats Cheese, Chicken roll and a fresh salad! We were joined by the hotel’s owner and host, Jane.
After our delicious lunch, we headed to the historic village of Beltana, which has an amazing array of historic buildings, including campsites for those who wish to stay and enjoy the surroundings.
Then we drove to Leigh Creek Caravan Park, for a night in some very basic cabins, but at least they were clean and comfortable. As it was Mother’s Day, the catering ladies (Claire and Sharon) were given the night off to enjoy a delicious pub meal with the team at the Leigh Creek Outback Resort.
Day 10: Leigh Creek to Alpana Station
After breakfast and a hot coffee, the convoy headed out to the historic township of Blinman. We stopped for morning tea at the Miner’s Crib Bakery Café, before heading to the Heritage Blinman Underground Mine Experience.
Susan was our guide and did an amazing job of taking us on a tour of the Blinman copper mine, which ceased operations in 1907 and opened in 2011 for public viewing. The Blinman Underground Mine Experience offers a unique journey not only into the heart of a historical copper mine but also the heritage, culture, and values of the people of Blinman.
Lunch was on the agenda straight after the tour back in town, and then we headed back on the track to Parachilna to film some footage of the caravans driving over corrugations. There were some light showers that made the filming more challenging than the film crew had anticipated, but they did their best in the conditions
We then turned around and headed back to Blinman, then turned right and headed to Alpana Station, where we had the Shearers Quarters as our accommodation for the next two nights.
After scouting a location to film some video content for the CAOS Heavy Duty Battery Box, the plan was to drive up to Sunset Hill on the property to watch the sun set. Unfortunately, we missed the sunset because the clouds spoiled the view of the big orange orb slowly sinking below the horizon, but the view was still amazing, and the crew filmed a “closer” with Macca, as we all enjoyed a well-earned cold beer at the end of another productive day.
It was freezing cold and noticeably chillier after the sun went down, so it was back to the Shearers Quarters to enjoy some yarns sitting around the open fire in the dining room.
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