In Search of Bunyip Chasm
[This time, some of the T-Team venture into the Gammon Ranges, Northern Flinders Ranges, South Australia; an amazing unspoilt part of the world…
Heartfelt thanks to Mohamad Al Karbi for giving me the opportunity to share the beauty of the Gammon Ranges.]
Over the Easter break in 1986, Dad took my boyfriend at the time (Mr. K) and me to the Gammon Ranges. Dad had gone there the previous year and was keen to show us some of the scenic secrets these ranges held.
[Photo 1: Road to Gammon Ranges © C.D. Trudinger 1985]
We bumped and rolled in Dad’s four-wheel drive Daihatsu down the track into the Gammon Ranges, then camped near Grindell’s Hut, backpackers’ accommodation.
[Photo 2: Ye ol’ Daihatsu © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1986]
A murder-mystery from the early Twentieth Century involving the hut’s owner, spiced our discussion around the campfire that night. Then we set up a tent, for Mr. K, on the ground above the bank of the creek. I placed my bedding also above the creek, but under the stars. Dad also opted for his “trillion-star” site underneath a river gum. No tent for him, either.
[Photo 3: Mr. K’s contemplation over campfire and the abundance of billy cans © L.M. Kling 1986]
The next day Dad guided us along the Balcanoona creek bed. Native pines shaded our trek to Bunyip Chasm. After an hour or two of hobbling over rounded river stones, we arrived at a cul-de-sac of high cliffs.
[Photos 4, 5, & 6: Balcanoona Creek from above, from below and along the way © C.D. Trudinger 1985]
[Photos 7, 8 & 9: Trekking along the creek © L.M. Kling 1986]
‘Is this it?’ Mr. K asked. ‘Is this Bunyip Chasm?’
‘I think so.’ Dad squinted at the waterfall splashing over the cliffs. ‘It looks familiar.’
I scanned the amber and copper-coloured cliffs. ‘I don’t see any chasm.’
‘Just wait a minute,’ Dad said and then disappeared through some scraggly-looking bushes.
I waited and took photos of the water spattering over dark cliffs set against a cobalt blue sky.
[Photos 10 & 11: Aspects of Bunyip Chasm © L.M Kling 1986]
Dad tramped back to us. ‘It’s over here. The water’s deeper than last year, so I don’t think we can go through.’
We trekked after Dad, pushing the bushes and then reeds aside. There, the split in the hillside, and a deep pool of water lurking in the shadows.
‘Do you think we can swim through?’ I asked. I had worn my swimsuit in the hope of swimming in a waterhole.
‘Nah, it’s too deep and cold.’ Dad gazed at the surrounding cliffs and shook his head. ‘I wouldn’t risk it.’
I took more photos of the cliffs, hillside and of course the start of the chasm.
[Photo 12: Deeper than last year, Bunyip Chasm © C.D. Trudinger 1985]
‘Come on, we better get back,’ Dad said and then started to retrace our steps along Balcanoona Creek.
We trailed after Dad. Although native pine trees shaded our path, the hiking made me thirst for a waterhole in which to swim. I gazed up at the lacework of deep blue green against the sky. My boot caught on a rock. I stumbled. Ankle rolled and twisted.
I cried out. ‘Wait!’
[Photo 13: Mr. K hiking back through native pine forest © L.M. Kling 1986]
‘What?’ the men asked at the same time.
‘I hurt my ankle; I need to soak it in cold water.’
Dad stamped his foot. ‘Well, hurry up. We have to get back to camp before dark.’
After removing my boots and socks, rolling up my jeans, I sank my feet into the pool of icy water.
‘What are you doing?’ my boyfriend asked.
‘I’m soaking my ankle, I twisted it and I learnt in first aid that you need to apply a cold compress to it.’
[Photo 14: A perfect pool in which to soak my ankle © L.M. Kling 1986]
Mr. K put his hands-on hips and sighed.
After about ten minutes, with my ankle still swollen and sore, I hobbled with my boyfriend at my side after Dad. We climbed down a short waterfall and at the base, I looked back. The weathered trunk of an old gum tree leaned over the stream, three saplings basked in the late-afternoon sunlight against sienna-coloured rocks, and clear water rushed and frothed over the cascading boulders and into pond mirroring the trees and rocks above.
[Photo 15: Mr. K waiting © L.M. Kling 1986]
‘Stop! Wait!’ I called out to Dad.
‘We have to keep on going,’ Dad called back, then disappeared into the distance.
Mr. K waited while I aimed my camera at the perfect scene and snapped several shots.
[Photo 16: Wayside Waterfall © L.M. Kling 1986]
Then holding hands, we slowly hiked along the creek leading to our campsite and Dad.
‘I’m going to paint that little waterfall,’ I said.
We walked in silence, enjoying the scenery painted just for us—the waves of pale river stones, the dappled sunlight through the pines, and a soft breeze kissing our skin.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2019
Feature Photo: Sunrise on Gammon Ranges © L.M. Kling 1986