Friday, March 11, 2011

Bushwalking in the Vulkathunha - Gammon Ranges, South Australia | Pt 1 Trip Planning Resources

Where are the Gammons? Why visit the Gammons? When is the best time to visit the Gammons and how long do you need? What level of experience do you need and does it require any special planning and equipment because of its remoteness? What resources are available to help you plan, appreciate and enjoy what you see?
UPDATE: there has been a mouse plague in the Gammons (April -? 2011) and I would advise taking your tent inner, storing food outside your tent in air tight bags and hanging your food out of reach.

Bushwalking, Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park ........in brief

Gammon Ranges 
"Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park is an arid wilderness of spectacular rugged ranges and deep gorges 400 km N of Port Augusta off the Copley-Balcanoona Rd. The park has important cultural significance for the Adnyamathanha people who are the traditional custodians of the region. There are several access points, both for 2WD and 4WD vehicles, with the heart of the park offering challenging wilderness bushwalking experiences. The park includes limited caravan sites, bush camping, 4WD touring tracks and several accommodation options. Bookings are essential for hut accommodation and shearers’ quarters. The park adjoins Lake Frome Regional Reserve and shares a boundary with Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges Traditional Owners and DEH co-manage the park. " (DENR )
Google Aerial view of the Gammons

View Larger Map
Access

 The last 100 km is largely over dirt roads, which can sometimes be badly corrugated. If you wish to set up a base camp at Grindell Hut inside the Park, I recommend that you use a 4WD as the tracks are sometimes sandy and the wheel ruts can be deep. Many conventional cars will not have sufficient ground clearance. Make sure you carry essential spare parts for your vehicle and read the RAA Outback Driving booklet. 

Up-to-date road conditions can be checked via the Far Northern and Western Areas road condition hotline – 1300 361 033 or by visiting www.dtei.sa.gov.au. Alternatively call the Desert Parks information line on 1800 816 078.
Google Map Directions Adelaide to Copley (just north of Leigh Creek)
SA Outback Fuel Chart
(pdf)
Google Map Directions Adelaide to Copley( just north of Leigh Creek)
Google Maps Copley, Vulkathuna - Gammon Ranges Nat Pk and Arkaroola Village

Outback Driving (RAA)
Climate

If you are planning a trip to northern SA (eg the Gammons) check the forecast carefully as the temperature is often in the high twenties or low thirties, when it is in the high teens in Adelaide. My experience is that it is often 5 -10 degrees warmer than Adelaide but colder at night. 

Check the Weatherzone climate statistics for Arkarooola  , the nearest weather station or visit the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary's Climate Information page which compares the climate with other capital cities.
Long term averages show May to early September to be the  best from a temperature perspective (mean max 19-20 deg C). Mean minimum temperatures are 3-7 deg C, (lightweight sleeping bag weather). Days of rain 3, mean rain 6-10 mm (you may even risk just a fly depending on the month)
Further north in the Gammons, water can also be short supply after six months with little rain. A spring/early summer trip is risky as most rain falls in December-March as the tail ends of monsoons sweep down SE from the Kimberley and most will have gone by then.

Fire Bans

All wood fires or solid fuel fires are prohibited from 1 November 2010 to 31 March 2011. Gas fires are permitted other than on days of total fire ban. For further information, please contact the Port Augusta Regional Office (08) 8648 5300, the Wilpena Visitor Centre (08) 8648 0048 or the CFS Fire Bans Hotline 1300 362 361.  Timely reminder of fire restrictions in parks (DENR 103kb pdf)

Time Required

The Vulkathuna - Gammon Ranges are a long drive of 8 - 9 hours from Adelaide, over unsealed roads from Copley, which can be badly corrugated depending on how recently they have been graded. For most people, the two days of travel encourages you to spend a minimum of  3-5 days in the Gammons, including some time at the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary and the Paralana Hot Springs which are a short drive away. If you based yourself at Grindell Hut within the Park, then  it would be possible to spend a whole week in the Park and then at least another three days at Arkaroola.

Panorama of Grindell's Hut, showing the hut and the landscape surrounding it. (Peter Neaum 2009-09-10)
Bushwalking Experience Level

The Gammons are remote with the nearest major town, Leigh Creek, a hundred and thirty kilometres away to the west, which takes about 2-4 hours, depending on the state of the road. In addition to the remoteness, water supplies are unpredictable, the temperatures much higher than Adelaide and the terrain rugged, with significant exposure at times, when climbing the waterfalls. A high level of navigation skill, using both map and compass and GPS, is required as most of the walking trails are off-track with no signage and no trail markers. This Park is designated as being unsuitable for beginning bushwalkers, with experience of multi-day hikes, the ability to carry heavy loads and self-sufficiency in terms of first aid and training a necessary requirement. The carrying of an emergency beacon (PLB), GPS, relevant maps, mobile phone and even a UHF radio in case of emergency communication with nearby stations is advised. Don't forget to leave your trip intentions form with the Ranger at Balcanoona.


Flinders Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Outback South Australia 4wd  Tracks and Repeaters Brochure  (5.5Mb, pdf)


Department Environment and Natural Resources

Park Passes
Park Closures
Trip Intentions Form (323kb pdf)
Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park (647kb pdf)
Wildlife of the Desert Parks (419kb pdf)
Balcanoona Shearer's Quarters Booking Information (145kb pdf)
SA National Parks Guide - Flinders Ranges and Outback Region (816kb pdf)
Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park Weetootla Hike Network brochure (686kb pdf)

Itineraries

 John Chapman's Gammon Ranges

Maps

Maps: 1:50,000 Topographic Illinawortina, Nepabunna, Serle, Angepena
Northern Flinders Ranges (1.4MB pdf)
South Australian Outback (1.2MB pdf)
The Map Shop 
Map index:  Arkarooola - Gammon Ranges - Yudnamutana - Farina
Map Index:  North Flinders - Wilpena - Blinman - Leigh Creek - Balcanoona
RAA Flinders Ranges & Outback Maps 

Further Reading 

Online

South Australia: Vulkathana - Gammon Ranges (ABC, Program One: 29 December 2003 )
The Grindell Murder Case (Flinders Ranges Research)
Gammon Ranges Bunyip Chasm (ExplorOz)
Grindell Hut ( ExplorOz)
Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park (Wikipedia)
Department of Environment and Natural Resources Search Results| Gammons
Biological Survey of the North West Flinders Ranges (near Leigh Creek) (4.48mb pdf)
Gammon Ranges National Park Access Guide and Newsletter 2006 Autumn Edition (SA Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs Inc) (149kb pdf)
Arkarola Wilderness Sanctuary Activities (nearby tourist accommodation)

Photos

Bushwalk
Gammon Ranges (Flikr) 

Scientific Expeditions Group (SEG)

Vulkathunha Gammon Ranges Scientific Project (VGRaSP)
Vulkathunha Gammon Ranges Scientific Project | General Description (VGRaSP 118Kb pdf)
Analysis of Rainfall in the Gammon Ranges of South Australia 1992 - 2002  (1.7Mb pdf SEG)
The Gammon Ranges Project – Monitoring in a Remote Area D.J. Kemp1, C.J. Wright and S.A. Jewell Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure (pdf,338Kb)

Books

C. Warren Bonython. Walking the Flinders Ranges. Adelaide: Royal Geographical Society of South Australia, 2000.
The story of Warren Bonython's walk from the Crystal Brook in the south to Mt Hopeless in the north.  xiii, 231 p. [32] p. of plates :bill. (some col.) ; 24 cm. 
Adrian Heard. A Walking Guide to the Northern Flinders Ranges. State Publishing South Australia, 1990.
An excellent book, describing 3 circuit walks of around one week's length in the Gammon Ranges and briefer notes to the Arkaroola Sanctuary area. Recommended if you are planning a long walk in the Gammon Ranges. Probably out of print, price unknown.
John Chapman  Bushwalking In Australia, 4th edition 2003
320 pages, A5 in size - full colour throughout, 181 colour photographs, 56 colour topographic maps, 
Thomas, Tyrone 50 walks in South Australia Hill of Content, 1992
Paperback, 168 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), maps, 180mm x 120mm x 11mm. The Flinders Ranges and Kangaroo Island are featured in the walks over terrain ranging from coastal scrub to mountains and arid desert. ISBN: 9780855722111
Barker, Susan and McCaskill, Murray (Eds) Explore The Flinders Ranges RGSSA Adelaide 2005
A 'must have' for all travellers and admirers of the Flinders Ranges.  Recommended by tourist authorities; ideal for tourism studies and school projects.
Osterstock, Alan Time: in the Flinders Ranges. Austaprint,1970
56 pages, A5 in size, 8 colour photos. Covers the geology and history of the Flinders Ranges.
Osterstock, Alan The Flinders in Flower. Austaprint,1975
53 pages, A5 in size, 25 colour photos. Describes 27 of the most common flowers of the Flinders Ranges.
Corbett, David A Field Guide to the Flinders Ranges Rigby, 1980
A field guide to the plants, birds, mammals, insects, reptiles, fishes, frogs, rock types, landforms and a brief history.
Pedler, Rosemary Plant Identikit: Wildflowers of the Northern Flinders Ranges  Rosemary Pedler1994
This pocket size booklet describes, with accompanying colour sketches, 70 of the most common plants of the northern Flinders Ranges
M. Davies,  C.R. Twidale, M. J Tyler Natural History of the Flinders Ranges Royal Society of South Australia Inc 1996
This 208 page A5 book describes the history of settlement and exploration, the geology and minerals, fossils, landforms, climate, soils, vegetation, aquatic life,invertebrates, mammals, birds, reptile and amphibians and aboriginal people . It is well illustrated with B&W photos, graphs, tables, maps and has an extensive reference list
Thomas, Tyrone 50 walks in South Australia Hill of Content, 1992
168 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), maps ; 18 cm.  ISBN     0855722118 (pbk.) : Includes index.
Subjects     Hiking - South Australia - Guidebooks.  |  Walking - South Australia - Guidebooks.  |  South Australia - Guidebooks.
Morrison, RGB  A Field guide to the Tracks and Traces of Australian Mammals Rigby 1981
This unique 198 page field guide contains a large number of B&W photos of tracks, diggings, droppings & scats and bones and skulls of Australian animals which helps with identification. [ISBN 0 7270 1489 7
Bonney, Neville & Annie Reid Plant Identikit Common Plants of the Flinders Ranges Neville Bonney1993 [ISBN 0 646 15406 0]
This pocket size booklet describes, with accompanying colour sketches, 51 of the most common plants of the Flinders Ranges, including the Gammon Ranges National Park
  Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

2 comments:

  1. We will be doing a seven day walk starting next Wednesday and am still debating as to whether to take tent inner/fly or my bivvie, any suggestions would be great, angus

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  2. If there is a mouse plague, as there was several years ago you will regret not having a tent inner. It can get quite cold at night, with a heavy dew sometimes and rain is unpredictable even at this time of the year ( mainly summer rain) so check out the weather. Otherwise its personal choice.

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