I recently completed my first overnight hike and first trip to the Flinders Rangers, South Australia, traversing the Hidden Gorge trail within Mt Remarkable National Park. Spending three days and two nights with all my belongings strapped to my back was a truly liberating experience. It felt completely stress free, I mean stress free in the sense of normal everyday stressors, not that there is nothing to stress about. There’s watching out for snakes, working out where you can go use the bush loo in peace and whether or not you are going to run out of water. But these are good stresses, survival stressors and for some reason, when this is my biggest worry of the day, I certainly don’t feel stressed, I feel free.
The hike started like any other, 5 minutes in and I am wondering why I packed so much and when the next break is so that I can put my bag down for a moment and give my shoulders a reprieve. It seemed that the hardest part of the hike was actually the start, when I was not used to the backpack but it got easier as the trip wore on… or my bag got lighter… yea maybe that’s it.
I could not have asked for better weather, it was a beautiful, sunny spring day which brought out all the flowers, and most of all, the orchids. We saw so many green hooded orchids I lost count, as well as mosquito orchids and donkey orchids. We saw Drosera flowering (this is a native, small carnivorous plant) and many, many wattles.
Setting up camp the first night was rather easy, mainly because we had pre prepped dinners and frozen them so that they only needed re-heating. I was also using my friends’ tent, sleeping bag and mattress… I should probably invest in some camping gear of my own. After one well rested night and a freakish mid-night loo trip (where I accidentally went next to a kangaroo and scared it off) we headed off for the second day hiking.
This second day was like something out of a dream, the rocks within the Hidden Gorge valley shine a reddish brown, depending on when the light hits them. There is an unreal, peaceful feeling that falls over this place, it certainly has a lot of Aboriginal history attached to it. I could not get enough of looking at the jagged rock edges contrasted with the eucalypts. As a friend said to me, every eucalypt tree is distinctly different, they all have their own look and their own story to share.
I was also fortunate this day to see some of the local fauna like kangaroos and an emu, which conveniently ran out in front of me and proceeded up the track. I never did find out what happened to the people up ahead of me, imagine turning around and seeing an emu running full sprint towards you! I also saw a Flinders Rangers scorpion! As the name suggests, this is a species endemic to the Flinders Rangers, the long tail gives it away. To top it all off I got to see so many birds, including a kookaburra that landed right above my head and proceeded to watch me pack up the tent.
The Flinders Ranges is a remarkable place (pun intended), spending three days there took me right out of the stress associated with trying to complete a PhD. This experience plonked me right in the middle of the Australian bush and took away all my worries, leaving my mind only to wonder incredulously about Australia flora and fauna and focus only on what I was going to eat for the day and where I was going to sleep. Sometimes the simplest life is the easiest.