Past Events

Mount Ive Station

a week with mike
in the gawler ranges
at mount ive station

may 2015


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 places.


friday 1st


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.


saturday 2nd


A sunny day greeted the remainder of the arrivals. We had members from New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and, Western Australia!
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.


sunday 3rd


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 times!


monday 4th


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.


tuesday 5th


Another warm day allowed the three groups to complete the second of their drives without incident – the leaders had now been able to compare notes.


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.


wednesday 6th


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.


thursday 7th


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.


friday 8th


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!!



photos mike















photos mike



photos grant