Walking the Frome River – Day 4
Today saw our little group of five (we call ourselves the Famous Five) walk from Mt Serle homestead, down the Frome River, with our cultural guide Cliff Coulthard. We walked about 13kms and I must say it was a very pleasant day of walking.
A reminder of what we’re doing on our 2 week adventure in the Flinders Ranges:
The Frome River is the only River to flow north into the world renowned Lake Eyre, from high in the equally world renowned Flinders Ranges. From its watershed it drops about 739 metres over its 319 km length to Lake Eyre. Our aim is to do a reconnaissance walk along the 110km of the mountain section to where it crosses the Strzeleckie Track.
Even this section has been divided into 2 stages because, although part of our mission is to travel the distance, the most important part of our mission is to travel ‘in the spirit’ of those whose country this has been for 50000 years. And so this is a guided Cultural Walk in Adnyamathanha Country, led and supported by Adnyamathanha people. The term reconnaissance is used because we are not following an already prepared walk but working with our cultural guides to determine the best course, information points, pace, points of interest, and to suggest what and where infrastructure may be required. Iga Warta Pty Ltd provides all meals, guides, Cultural information and support.
It was quite a cool day but we didn’t mind the breeze blowing through us – have you heard of a lazy wind? It’s the wind that is too lazy to go around you so it goes straight through you. Today’s fun fact 🙂
We were supposed to start our walk from where we finished on Day 2 but we decided not to be too purist about walking the Frome River and cut off the first few kilometres by driving into the Mt Serle homestead and starting at the river there instead. It was still the same dry riverbed with huge rocks and even bigger river gums. It’s hard to believe that the river actually gets very high in the summer months, with days of rain creating a torrent with debris and water carving out the banks of the river.
Cliff was full of useful information along the walk, showing us where to find bush tucker and getting us to taste some slightly ‘weird’ things. We tried some sap from an acacia tree, which tasted like chewy honey and manna which was like a sweet, coconut flake found on certain gum leaves.
Manna is the excretion from the sugar lurp bug, which then turns into a sweet tasting coconut style flake. It’s found on the back of gum leaves and we just scraped it off and ate it straight up. It is delicious – tastes very sweet and is high in protein, making it the perfect snack.
The word ‘manna’ means snow in the Adnyamathanha language as it resembles a snowflake. An interesting fun fact – the words ‘manna from heaven’ also appear in the bible.
After reading that description of Manna (or poo flakes as someone termed it) would you have tried it? Real bush tucker and so good for you!!
We saw so many kangaroos, wallabies, emus with their chicks in tow, birds and generally more wildlife than in previous days, because Mt Serle station has been destocked. The only non-native animals on Mt Serle station now are feral goats, which are in the process of being eradicated. It was great seeing all the native animal activity going on around us.
Along the way we came across Maria’s Gate, where a stone wall had been built years ago and actually connected up to a natural rocky outcrop. A real feat of engineering!
Among the rocks we saw lots of hole and caves and we were especially thrilled to see some rare yellow tailed rock wallabies. They had amazingly long yellow tails and weren’t too worried about us being in their neighbourhood. They are starting to increase their numbers and we even saw one with a joey in the pouch.
The riverbed was mainly dry, as in past days, but occasionally there were beautiful rock pools and the river gums were again magnificent. We had lunch sitting under one of these huge old trees. Cliff told us they must be well over 500 years old as they are a very slow growing tree. Their complex root systems were a work of art.
As we walked across a rocky plain, Cliff pointed out old stone tools and grinding stones from the traditional Aboriginal owners of the land. These were easily picked up on the surface of the ground if you knew what to look for. It was fascinating hearing the stories and thinking back to a bygone era.
We had a standoff with an emu protecting his chicks and later on a pair of emus were behaving in a very threatening manner towards us. These birds are quite large and could do a lot of damage!
Did you know emus lay an odd number of eggs, one of which is later used for the newly hatched chicks as their first food? The male emu also looks after the chicks. They are such interesting creatures!!
I really like interesting trees and this was one of my favourites, which I have called my Priscilla Queen of the Desert tree:
We finished our 13km walk at Euromulka Well and drove back over very bumpy tracks to Iga Warta, for a well earned shower, before enjoying a BBQ dinner with the Coulthard family. We are really starting to feel like part of the family!!
We are having a fabulous experience! It is an adventure way more than I ever thought it would be. I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am.
You can find my previous posts on our outback adventure here:
Day 1 of walking – An Aussie Outback Adventure #1
Day 3 was a day of social history and culture – An Aussie Outback Adventure #3
Stay tuned for more updates! If you haven’t been to this part of the world I would highly recommend it. Immersing yourself in the culture and environment is very therapeutic for the soul. Have you ever been anywhere like this? I’d love to hear your stories.
You can also find Deb’s World here – I’d be delighted if you’d join me.