From Marree we headed to Farina for a morning exploring the old ruins of the former town. The town was slowly being restored by volunteers after a group of 30 Victorian travellers decided to try to bring back some of its former beauty. They now have around 220 volunteers over a nine week period each year working on restoration and running the bakery using the original, in tact underground bakers oven.
We explored for a few hours and checked out the campsite while we were there – definitely another site to pull up and camp when I next make the trip with some avid ‘free camp’ fans.
Lunch at the bakery included a second helping of their pasties – the pastry was so delicious I couldn’t help myself! In Marree one of our fellow travellers recommended Brachina Gorge at Flinders Ranges National Park so we decided that would be our next stop.
I couldn’t resist taking mum to the Prairie Hotel in Parachilna where we’d enjoyed our feral antipasto platter last year. We were still too full from our stop at Farina for the platter so we opted for some wedges and a cold drink. Though I’d remembered the food I’d forgotten just how beautiful the hotel itself was. I would love to come back here and stay in the hotel among the artworks and gorgeous building.
We arrived at Brachina Gorge and planned to put money in envelopes for our campsite at the gate as the signage instructed us however, there were no envelopes or money box so we simply drove through with intentions of sticking a note on our camp for the rangers informing them that we’d drive to the office or pay online if possible.
It turns out that bookings must be made now for campsites and can only be done online (tricky when we’d had no service since leaving Birdsville and certainly had none here at Brachina). I found this out of course when a lovely young couple turned up at 5pm to let us know we were in their spot. They were really lovely about it though, and went off to another site they remembered was vacant when they booked.
As it got dark and we’d had our fire going, the young couple drove back to let us know that 3 other campers had turned up to the site they’d moved to but as it was so big, were happy for them to stay tonight and move back the next morning. They had also booked another backup site so we could move to that the next day. By this stage I was a bit teary and exhausted so was grateful not to have to pack up and move in the dark.
It got VERY cold by nightfall – the coldest night we’ve had so far in the camper. I went to bed with the hot water bottle, socks, flannelette pj’s, singlet, thermo long sleeve top, beanie and my dressing gown and slept under 2 blankets! Master15 doesn’t feel the cold and slept in jocks and socks (that he eventually removed as his feet got too hot?!).
We woke to a wet doona and canvas and water in a bucket outside had frozen solid on top during the night. We reluctantly did a rough pack up so we could move and let the young couple have their site back. I drove to where they were camped to offer them their camp fees back (they refused the money) and a bottle of wine for their trouble (they accepted this thankfully). They’d all also decided the area they were in was big enough for all of them so we could stay where we were!
Miss7 was pretty happy with this as she’d made friends with the 5 year old boy next door and the 2 of them were happily climbing trees and playing make believe.
We went on a lovely long hike with Miss7’s new friend and his mum while Nanna stayed back to read. We followed the river bed up for ages admiring the views, climbing over rocks and water and playing with slime. On the way back we played Eye Spy when Miss7 turned around for a hint only to find a mob of Emus had walked up behind us! We couldn’t believe how close they were to us and didn’t seem phased by us at all. We walked quietly alongside them before they ran ahead of us and eventually into the trees. This has certainly been the trip for Emu watching.
Leaving Miss7 with our neighbours for some afternoon animal spotting, I took Master15 and mum for a drive to Wilpena Pound. While we were there were got some supplies for us and our neighbours and a few sweet treats to enjoy later (a sweet tooth is genetic in this family!).
Master15 decided he couldn’t wait to get back to camp to enjoy his chocolate delight so he ate it in the car as I logged on to try and book us a 3rd night at our site. Midst booking he told me his tongue was itching and the back of his throat… luckily we had the epipen in the car with us but I didn’t want to use it if it could be avoided (neither did Master15!) I had antihistamine in my bag so I gave him one of those and we waited 5 minutes to see the effects. His lips began to tingle but no hives came up and his breathing remained fine so I gave him another antihistamine and waited 5 more minutes. Our anaphylaxis plan always includes antihistamine first, wait 10 minutes (unless symptoms worsen of course and breathing becomes an issue – then its straight to epipen) then reassess. After 10 minutes his symptoms had resolved themselves and he felt fine.
During the drama I’d forgotten to finalise my booking and when I went to hit confirm, someone else had snuck in and booked the site from under me. Looks like we’re only staying 2 nights at Brachina.
We headed back to camp via an old gravestone of a 2yr old girl who’d lost her life in 1860, some old ruins from a former drovers hut and about 30 odd kangaroos.
We ate dinner by the fire again after Miss7 and her new friend performed a musical concert for us. I added an extra layer to the bedtime wardrobe in the hopes of staying warm and not waking cold during the night tonight. If only I had some sort of 12v electric blanket to help keep me warm!