The long roads continue from Adelaide into the outback in South Australia and we barely pass any cars. Short, twig-like bushes cling to the ground and dead kangaroos line the roads…blimey this definitely feels like the outback. We slow down as a small flock of Emus run across the road –fantastic! Slowly the landscape is changing, along this journey departing Adelaide some hours ago it has changed so much. Now steep ranges are appearing in the distance, they look like they have been squeezed out of the earth and are amazing in the evening sun.
Old chicken wire fences follow the road for miles and as we approach a white spray-painted barrel the indicator flashes on. As we pull off the road I see the words ‘Arkaba’ imprinted on the barrel. We must be here. Kicking up clouds of dust and bouncing over boulders we arrive at this wonderful-looking homestead. Our host Brendan is waiting to meet us and show us to our rooms. We have barely dropped our bags when he asks us if we fancy heading up the range in time for sunset. Jumping in the open-backed jeep we trundle past the original homestead as kangaroos bounce by. We reach the point just in time, the sun warmly glowing on the back of the chase range some miles behind. A chilled bag is brought out from the boot and a white linen table promptly set up – emu pate canapés and a cool bottle of Riesling make this sunset even more blissful.
The days spent in the Flinders are all about the experience. I am up early…I think it’s 05:00 and I am back in the jeep again. It’s strange to think how bitterly cold it is when it was so hot yesterday. I am wearing layer upon layer, down jackets and blankets as we drive out into the bush. The morning light is misty blue and this time we are driving up onto the shoulder ridge of the Elder range. In the distance, the bluffs of the Flinders silhouette like daggers. We stop and explore dried up creeks and learn about the flora and fauna that lives in this harsh land, the leaves of the rose gums smell so fresh. Off we go as the sun starts creeping above the horizon, it’s warm rays are so welcome as fresh coffee is poured. A hot air balloon floats up from the valley bottom and rises with the sun. Back at Arkaba we have more time to explore, walking the creeks, passing the swag stations designed for starlight sleepers. I quite fancy that.
Our chef cooks up the most delicious meal that evening, delicious lamb shank, local herded of course, and creme brulee. Off we go to the library, the fire lit and glowing, a glass of port from the nearby Barossa Valley….I think I will sleep well tonight.