If you like getting away from it all, seeing stars sparkle at night, no WiFi, 4WD tracks and unique landscapes, then Gawler Ranges National Park in South Australia needs to go on your list.
Where to stay? Right in the middle of the park at Pondanna Outstation. It is a 1860s farmhouse that has been lovingly restored by the ‘Friends of Gawler National Park’.
There are four bedrooms (need to bring sheets, blankets, etc.) a stocked kitchen (need to bring your own food), toilet and bathroom. There is a ‘donkey’ out the back that you easily pump water to the tank and wood for the burner. You heat water the old-fashioned way – it works and is great fun. The tank is large; don’t fear that you will be running out of hot water mid-shower. There are also board games, a fireplace and wine glasses.
One of the modern conveniences of Pondanna is electronic check-in and open. Say you have gone to Gawler, the weather has turned or you just decide that you want to sleep in a bed with a hot shower and flushing toilet — you can go to Pondanna and ‘check in’ at the kitchen door. Go to www.pondannaoutstation.com.au to find out more.
Food tip: The last town going into the Gawler Ranges National Park is Wudinna. There are grocery stores and a great butcher, but do what we did: contact Alicia’s Café and have package meals that you can heat at Pondanna. Alicia also organised the steaks from the butcher so that we only had one stop. While picking up your supplies, grab a good cup of coffee – all at Alicia’s Café. Check out her Facebook page here.
What to see: As Queenslanders, the salt lakes were a mystery to us — an unreal landscape where you can’t stop taking photos. Try to visit the one locals call “Stuart’s Salt Lake” — rain or shine, it is worth the look.
Organ Pipes are a remnant of the volcanic history of the park. They are octagonal volcanic rhyolite and almost look like a giant has stepped in and landscaped a valley. It is said that they are over a million years old and they are another great photo-op.