How old are the Flinders Ranges? I don't know, but apparently, some of the worlds oldest fossils have been found here.
I used to camp up at the Flinders Ranges with my grandparents and family as a child. We’d set up camp by a creek, sit around campfires at night, hike during the day and construct gravestones for the baby rabbits accidentally caught in my Grandpa’s traps that day. We’d name them, bury them, have a ceremony and put a headstone on top.
Twenty years later, and a few visits in between, I’m back. But this time I’m not camping, I'm staying in a three bedroom home complete with indoor fire, fire pit outside and bath overlooking the gorge hills. There is even a coffee machine. Luxurious. There is a water trough out the back which emus come and drink. Each day I take a bath mid-afternoon, so I can laze back and watch the sun play hide and seek with the stormy clouds while the emus slurp away. I laugh as sheep come running to the trough and scatter the emus one afternoon. I wonder who rules the roost?
Flinders Bush Retreats is a working station about 10 minutes out of Hawker. There is a range of accommodation. Bush campsites, Eco tent, The Quarters (which are quite luxe shearers quarters) and where I’m staying, Mount Scott Homestead. Something for everyone, I’d like to think.
I love the isolation of Mount Scott Homestead. Five minutes drive from the nearest house through paddocks. I hear nothing but the wind, birds and occasional creak from the trees. I sit at the breakfast bar and see the outback farm for as far as my short sighted eyes can see. Adventuring up into the hills of the Willow Waters Gorge, I am comfortable knowing if I get lost I only need to head west, and I’ll see ‘home’.
I am alone, but I can imagine having a few nights away with friends or family. Willow Waters Gorge, the gorge on the property is old. Very old. Boringly old apparently. So the scientific folk said when they came to survey the area. But it is perfect for wandering. It’s small enough not to get lost but big enough to walk for a few hours each day. I climb up to a peak one chilly morning and get a 360-degree view of the gorge. It’s a little utopia amongst the barren farmland over the other side of the hills.
Another day I climb up the hills, losing the track I'm meant to walk up, but find my way around on the goat and kangaroo tracks. I get over to the gorge side of the hills, but rain and wind lash in. I retreat, slipping down the hill on the scree. Just as I get back to Mount Scott Homestead, the sky opens and a storm rolls in. The wind makes a song as it hurtles across the farmland and through the gum trees lining the front of the house. I’m glad I turned back when I did. The hills were steep, and I can imagine the wind picking me up and throwing me somewhere further down if I’d been up on top still.
Sharon and Allen McInnes are working farmers. They live nearby with their children and have a farm of animals for guests to meet. Mini ponies, geese, chooks, sheep, pigs, cat, dogs… City kids (big and small) will be amazed. Unfortunately, due to weather, I missed out on shearing, but at the right time of year, guests can get involved with farm chores too.