Southern Flinders Stop-over or Stay
[Last year, the T-K Couple camped in the Southern Flinders at Mambray Creek; just a few hours by car from Adelaide and one of the beautiful sites often overlooked as travellers journey north.
Many thanks to Mohamad Al Karbi for giving me the opportunity to share the T-Team’s adventures in South Australia.]
On this overcast spring day, we journeyed along Port Wakefield Road; our destination Mambray Creek in the Southern Flinders Ranges which is about a three-hour drive from Adelaide. Market gardens, car yards, paddocks and the occasional hotel flitted left and right of us, and we reminisced our ventures into the Flinders Ranges.
Mambray Creek first came to the attention of the T-Team, when Dad and Mum T of the T-Team, camped there in the late 1950’s. They’d travelled in their tiny Morris pulling a teeny-tiny caravan.
[Photo 1: Caravan and Morris © C.D. Trudinger circa 1959]
Mr K sighed as we passed a caravan sales yard. ‘One day we’ll get a caravan.’
‘And a four-wheel drive to pull it,’ I reminded him.
After a stop for LP gas for the Ford at Port Wakefield, we raced on to Crystal Brook. Mr K recalled the times he travelled up to the Flinders Ranges as a boy with his family. ‘It’d take us all day to get there in the Kombi. We’d always stop at Port Wakefield, you know.’
[Photo 2: Crystal Brook coffee stop © L.M. Kling 2018]
After a coffee break at Crystal Brook and watching the freight train roll by, we reached Mambray Creek turn off at 6:00pm. Management of the land at Mambray has evolved over the years since Dad and Mum visited. Gone are the days happy campers could turn up at the grounds, find a pleasant patch to put up a tent or park a caravan, and then build a roaring campfire to cook and keep warm—all for free. Until recently, when we’ve made this camp ground our temporary home, we’ve stopped at a simple wooden structure of an information booth, filled out a form available and dropped it in with the amount of payment (about $10 – 20/day) required to enter the National Park. With the advance of technology that befits the 21st Century, bookings and payments are now done on-line. Glad Mr K reminded me to do that, as there’s no on-site payment kiosk for impromptu visits to the camping ground.
[Photo 3 & 4: Camping with boys. Note the designated fire-place © L.M. Kling 2005]
[Photo 5: Visiting Emu © L.M. Kling 2005]
While our Sat Nav we call “Bruce”, became disconcerted with the track we were driving on that he thought didn’t exist, Mr K and I noted a ranger’s residence to our left.
‘Ah, the rangers are here to drive around the campsites and check visitors have their on-line documentation for camping,’ I remarked.
‘And to make sure they use the designated community fire pits filled with their own wood,’ Mr K added.
‘Yes, such is progress.’
[Photo 6: Kangaroo in Mambray Creek Camping Grounds © A.N. Kling 2018]
Several kangaroos bounded across the sealed road in front of us. We slowed, keeping a wary eye on the wildlife that seem to have an attraction for roads and cars at dusk. Once in the camping ground, we followed the clearly numbered camp sites until we found ours.
Mr K set up the tent with little help from me. I just held the poles while he hammered pegs into the hard ground pitted with stones. He made sure the Ford stood between our tent and the gum tree. One pole of the tent insisted on being bent but Mr K, after all the effort of driving and tent building, had runout of energy to battle with that little problem, and let it be.
[Photo 7: Setting up tent on our site beside the mighty Ford © L.M. Kling 2018]
By this time darkness had crept over the land and as we unloaded the Ford and filled the tent, I wore a headlamp while Mr K marched around with his ultra-bright torch.
‘Get the fire going,’ Mr K said.
[Photo 8: Sunset in the creek © L.M. Kling 2018]
I looked at the well-constructed fire-pit ringed with river stones and assumed this was the “designated” one. It seemed to have been used in the last day as the coals seemed fresh. So, on went the newspaper, twigs and our cherry plum tree logs from home. It was then we discovered the first of the forgotten items, the axe. Fortunately, Mr K had chopped up the logs before we left Adelaide.
[Photo 9: Disappointment at dinnertime and, more memories; chops for breakfast, and see, that time, we remembered the BBQ tool © L.M. Kling 2013]
Mr K despaired of my fire-making efforts and tossed out my offerings. He then commenced digging. He hit a rock. Using the shovel, he levered the rock out of its hole. Fire-pit to Mr K’s specifications, he piled in the paper, twigs, and logs and soon we had a fire crackling, sausages sizzling, and the next forgotten item added to the list—BBQ utensils. Never mind. After grumbling that I should’ve made a list, I managed to improvise using a fork to turn the snags. So, while Mr K organised the bedding, I prepared a simple tea of sausages and salad.
[Photo 10: Memories of previous visit to Mambray Creek. Mr K’s Magpie feathered friend © L.M. Kling 2013]
‘Where’s the side-winder?’ Mr K yelled. ‘If I can’t find that, we’ll be sleeping on hard ground.’
I left the sausages to cook themselves and directed Mr K to the location of the sidewinder; that all-important pump for the blow-up mattress.
‘Where’s the attachments?’
‘Attachments? What attachments?’
After stressing over no attachments, Mr K managed to inflate the mattress without attachments. In seconds.
At last, we enjoyed our sausages and salad, looking forward to a hot cup of cocoa before heading off to bed.
Yet another drama.
My husband leaned over to attend to the boiling billy and almost fell in the fire. Mr K’s back “went”. Mr K was not having a good day.
[Photo 11: Our “Home” for 3 days © A.N Kling 2018]
I fished out the cold pack from the esky and Mr K applied it to the pain in his back, and we once again relaxed by the fire. We spent a pleasant time watching the flames slowly turn to coals and reminiscing past visits to Mambray Creek with the boys, and when we stopped over without the T-Team, on our way to Central Australia in 2013.
Photo 12, 13, & 14: Memories of Mambray from ventures in 2013 & 2018
[Photo 12: Kookaburra ©L.M. Kling 2018]
[13 Hoped for views in anticipated hikes around Mambray Creek © L.M. Kling 2018]
[14: Memories of Mambray; our last camping site © L.M. Kling 2013]
Meanwhile, the mattress deflated. Another drama to add to our Mambray collection.
[to be continued…]
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018
Feature Photo: Mambray Creek a tangle of trees © L.M. Kling 2018