in the gawler
at mount ive station
A week in the Gawler Ranges National Park was hosted by
Mike Fretwell from Saturday 2nd to Friday 8th May 2015 with members camping
at Mount Ive Station. Members travelled from New South Wales, Victoria,
South Australia & Western Australia for the week long get together.
The Gawler Ranges are a range of stony hills in South Australia to the north
of Eyre Peninsula. The Eyre Highway (Ceduna – Port Augusta) skirts the south
of the ranges and the Stuart Highway (Port Augusta – Glendambo – Alice
Springs) is to the east. The Gawler Ranges National Park and Gawler Ranges
Conservation Reserve are in the ranges north of Wudinna and adjacent to
Mount Ive Station to the south of where we were based. This is also adjacent
to Lake Gairdner which is the fourth largest salt lake in Australia being
over 160kms long and 48kms wide; the salt is over 1.2 metres thick in
Most of the 31 Camper Trailers and their owners arrived
during the day. A cool calm day set up made an easy matter. A central fire
place had been provided by the Station Managers, Lynda and Fred, and in the
evening a flame was set by our team’s pyromaniacs to the largest mallee
stump anyone had seen. It was higher than most of us, and took 24 hours to
ash down. It provided a great camp fire.
A sunny day greeted the remainder of the arrivals. We had
members from New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and, Western
For those already set up it was decided that an ascent of Mount Ive should
be attempted. The track up required Low Range 2 in places, and an eye for
the odd rock or two. It provided a very good introduction for the less
experienced 4WD drivers amoungst us.
Mount Ive Station provides a selection of tracks to be
explored by 4WD. For the week’s activities three tracks were selected; Billy
Can, Flight Path, and Mount Scott. Six experienced drivers “volunteered” to
act as a group Leader and Tail End Charlie for the week. Three groups
numbered appropriately One, Two and Three were formed!! This arrangement
allowed all participants an opportunity to drive all three tracks during
their visit to Mount Ive Station.
The groups departed between 10 and 10.30 and by 11.15 two
groups had returned geographically challenged! (no names - Chatham House
Rules!) With further direction from Manager Fred the groups set out again
and successfully completed the round trip. There were lots good memories
that day; probably one of the best being the passing of an eagle’s nest 3
A nice day dawned for our drive to Lake Gairdner 57kms
away. Twenty One vehicles in the convoy necessitated a radio relay vehicle
in the middle so that the convoy leader could stay in touch with trail end
Charlie. It was lovely day and the group was able to walk on the lake, have
lunch by the side of the lake, and then also explore a dam (The Embankment)
built in 1896 and Kath’s Castle a rhyolite rock formation.
There was large group around the camp fire that night.
Another warm day allowed the three groups to complete the
second of their drives without incident – the leaders had now been able to
The Royal Flying Doctor flies to Mount Ive twice a month
to provide a medical clinic for the residents. It was with great interest
that we learnt that today was the day – the flight due in at 1630. Following
Nikki’s suggestion it was agreed to pass the hat around to collect a
donation for RFDS.
During the afternoon the wind increased in strength and
the cloud-base lowered with the result that the flight was cancelled and
rescheduled for the next day. In the evening we were still able to have a
fire but ensured the embers did not fly far; it was out by the time the last
camper hit the sack – thank you Craig.
Finally the dawn broke after a very rough windy night
during which a few awnings were unzipped! Today was to be our National Park
day. A smaller convoy set out leaving behind a few as patients and hosts for
the rescheduled RFDS visit. That occurred at 0930 and numerous pictures were
taken both by us and the RFDS crew in turn.
A long day was planned for our visit to the Gawler Ranges
National Park. Mike had clearance from the Rangers to enter via the
“backdoor” thus saving quite a few kilometres. Although still windy we had
an enjoyable day in-spite of rain showers which only came when we were in
our vehicles. During the day we enjoyed great scenery and was able to walk
over Kolay Mirica Falls, have luch at the Old Payney Station Homestead, walk
to the Stone Dam (not as good as the one at Mount Ive) and, finally the
Organ Pipes (large rhyolite columns).
We were home before dark after a round trip of 230kms. It
was too windy for a fire that night.
The weather, although now much cooler, was fine for the
last of the group drives. Not everyone chose to go. As tomorrow was the last
day everyone started to pack up awnings, poles etc. An evening communal meal
was planned for which the Managers had kindly allowed use of space usually
reserved for their non camping clients.
Everyone contributed a dish to the dinner and a good feed
was had by all. During the dinner Mike, at Craig’s request placed some ash
from the camp fire in Big Bertha’s urn. Big Bertha is now thought to be
“little bertha”, dwarfed by the very large mallee roots of our fire! After
dinner we were all able to all sit around the camp fire enjoying the light
of the moon and stars and, a much calmer evening.
Unfortunately all good things have to come to an end, and
so it was this time. Vehicles started leaving by 8.30. Thank you all for
coming and contributing so much to a very successful meet.
Will there be one in 2017?! Stay tuned!!