Saturday, July 08, 2006

Black Jack's Shelter to Caroona Creek

I'm didn't expect this. Knee pain, yes. Mild, YES!! No limping! None! Not one step! Melbourne last weekend, I just thought my whole knee thing was hopeless. But now? Woah. True, <blog edited> Now, to the important stuff, my Heysen walk weekend. Day 1.

So, the best day in months for knee pain. That we have already established. To be honest, I really can't remember today much. Looking at the map doesn't help. Let me just load up Photoshop and thumbnail the photos to prompt my memory...

Actually, while that's loading, I do remember some details... this weekend's walk were on the edge of no-where. Literally. Look at a road map of the state, and notice something remarkable about east of Burra. White space. No road. No features. Nothing. Just 100km's of white space. What's there? Nothing, I presume? No dirt tracks, no 4WD tracks, no homesteads, nothing. Dead space. We walked the edge of this space this weekend. Roads where few and far between. Homesteads, water tanks and bores, cattle, even fences, all few and far between on this weekend. It really was the edge of nowhere! But, testament to the original settler's determination, or ignorance, Goyder would say, there were still stone ruins. Some remarkably close together. Far too optimistic, these people! We had morning tea at a ruined one roomed house, within close distance to a similar but more standing house. And aloe vera plants. They survived. Nothing else did though!

This weekend's walk were gentle, Saturday being the hilliest, but nothing compared to last weekend up here. Sunday was certainly gentle up then down. Lunch today was at the top of one of the early hills. We had spent almost two hours driving again. Those bus drivers really aren't concerned about the roads they drive down, or should I say tracks? Newikie Creek was something. The first sign of civilisation since the bus drop off and it's associated sigting of the red sheds of Caroona Homestead (it didn't even really looked lived in, like many homestead out this way - all looked 1950's lived in). A shack. First impression through the distant trees - a bomb shelter. No seriously, that was it's shape! It's almost liked we stumbled across someone's Maurijuana crop!! A little tin shanty, nestled in a man-made hollow in the creek walls, a creek with water in it! A rusty old water tank nearby, very old school, like 1880's style. Not round, but square. Small. We peered through the cracks in the roof (enough cracks for everyone to have a look, should they wish to). Normally, I wouldn't have entered, but there was a sign that said "enter at own risk", it rather assumes people enter! So I did. I was rewarded with a sign, something to the effect that it had been here for 20 years + and to respect other people's property. Almost an invitation to camp here! Certainly a very, very, isolated spot, apart from the odd Heysen Trail walker of course!

I had done my usual map thing. Scanned and colour printed a map from my map book. Why carry 1200km of maps for just 20km of walking? Lucky that. Did a copy for Bev too, she coyly asked for one last time! Lucky that. These were the only two maps present from the current map book. Everyone else, yes, even the leaders (Jerry and Gavin) had the old strip maps, well, Jerry had his map book (secure in his car boot!). So Bev's copy was comandeered for the leaders to use! Apparently there had been many re-routes since the strip map was printed. Phew. Lucky for my maps! Although we did have GPS, and some of the sections today were remarkably well maintained, clearly signposted at regular intervals, branches trimmed, almost like the path had been swept. I think the leaders could have done with that maps this morning though, we parked and were picked up 1 point something kms off the trail, beyond Caroona's Creek. Nice camping set-up there. So super isolated.

The drive back to Burra was like 40 odd kms, some 40 odd minutes. Dirt roads, some not even marked on the map. Some maps showed the Caroona Creek Conservation Park, obviously from the signs and other facilities quite a new set-up.

Saturday night, walking to the pub, it was obvious that me knees were so much better than any other time for months and months. I wasn't cautious when showering, I didn't stiffly limp from the showers back to the tent, I didn't limp to the pub for tea! Tea, what a screw up. Our third time here, and the reservation, despite so many people staying in the hotel, booked for Sunday night, not Saturday. Oh my goodness, did this stress out the staff or what? They gave us so much attitude, despite the fact that they obviously coped with it quite well. We had to be seated in the front lounge, the dining room was closed for a wedding reception or something. They got so grumpy by the many different meals we ordered! But we were, unlike previous times, served very qucikly. And the guy, unlike the women, was much more accommodating and was still nice, not with attitude! Overall though, felt like a bit a rushed meal, having to order and be served so quickly.

Jim, perhaps better known as Olly or Oliver, and Ken, with his pink cheap tent (a mate's pink tent that was cheap!) were in the caravan park in tents. Ah good, some company. Jeff had taken to the pub for his accommodation. We, as in Lyn, had picked up Jeff, from his Modbury North home. Rhonda, Bev and Hilary, despite leaving home earlier than us, got totally lost, going from Wattle Park (to pick up Hilary) to Golden Grove (so not on the way!). When we got to Burra, they weren't there, much a concern for Lyn. How could they not be there when they left home before us? Ah, they went a totally stupid way out of Adelaide! But their extra time still meant they got to Burra at five to nine.

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