Flinders Ranges & Road Trains

We spent a couple of days travelling to the Flinders Ranges via Adelaide but aside from another beautiful camping spot by the lake, the journey was fairly uneventful. After meeting up with Valentina, one of Hattie’s ex work colleagues, and shopping around for everything that we’d missed in Melbourne, we headed off for the mountains. Unfortunately the weather was dreadful so rather than attempt walking the first day, we headed straight to the campsite; the car park behind a pub in a small town just outside the national park. Another WikiCamps find, the hosts were as friendly as promised and we spent the day drinking beer and watching the Aussie Rules game. 

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We got off to an early start the next day and headed into the park, a longer drive than anticipated which I really should have started to get used to by this point in Australia. Boots on, we started our four hour trek to the peak of Mount Ohlssen Bagge at an enormous 923m. I jest but it was no easy feat. I had decided to use my main bag to carry our lunch and Hattie’s sketching stuff and it added a few kilos that really didn’t help when tasked with bouldering our way up the mountain. However, we made the top in good time and once again were rewarded with some incredible scenery.

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Although two climbers we passed on the way up had made the same comment about the incredible ice creams at the summit, there wasn’t another person in sight so we assumed this must be some sort of ramblers inside joke. Hattie sketched the landscape whilst I, ever the artist, set to work capturing a 360 degree panorama with my phone. 

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Soon enough I realised I’d made an error in calculating how long it would take us to get to our next camping spot and we ended up having to rush down the mountain. Once again I managed to turn my bad ankle which hopefully won’t rule me out of walking for too long but the injury is starting to become a real hassle. Once back in the car, we made the calculations and couldn’t avoid the reality that we would have to do some night driving. Luckily we were still in South Australia so we were insured but this didn’t help sway the nerves that we would be driving at dusk when kangaroos seem to roam the roads freely. Combine this with our first sight of road trains, trucks pulling up to 3 trailers, who don’t slow down for much at all, and we were both pretty twitchy. 

I got used to it pretty quickly. The rules seemed to be, pull over as much as possible and there’ll be enough room. That’s when the road trains are coming the other way at least. When your faced with the problem of a 50 metre long truck rolling along in front of you up a hill, and the issue that overtaking it is going to take a while, there’s only so long you can trundle along before you have to go for it. 

I tell you now: you haven’t lived till you’ve had a close shave overtaking a road train at night. He’d given me the signal, I was about a trailer in, and the headlights come screaming round the corner. I knew he was still pretty far away but I’m in a two ton camper and I’ve still got two trailers and the truck to get past. I’m trying to remain calm for Hattie’s sake but I’ll be honest now that I’ve come out the other side, I pretty much just shit myself. I remembered the key point though: never hesitate. In the end I probably got back in with about 200 metres spare but that’s not to say it didn’t feel close!

Realistically, Hattie’s driving time was far more eventful. She dodged road kill a few times and even had an oncoming truck pull out from a stop at a hundred MPH into our lane, by accident or on purpose I’m still not sure, so she had to swerve to avoid him. Finally we made it to our campsite. Adrenaline still pumping, I can truthfully say that although I’m glad for the experience, I won’t be driving in the Outback at night in future. 

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