Aroona Valley and Bathtub Creek

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Aroona Valley and Bathtub Creek

Postby eggs » Sat 19 Aug, 2017 10:50 am

Aroona Valley - trip report

In August last year, my nephew was good enough to accompany me to the Aroona Valley in the northern Flinders Ranges.
It helped that he had a nice 4 wheel drive for access, though the roads were not too bad.

Winter is the time for multi day walks in the Flinders, but there is always a small risk of rain - and rain it did.
Its a long drive up, and we arrived at Aroona Hut around lunchtime and got started on a walk at 2pm on a Monday.
Our first goal was to find a tent site on or near Mt Hayward.

It was heavily overcast as we started out, but all was good on the approach to the face of Walkandi Peak.
There were a few pad options leading up, and we took the high road on a prominant spur which gave some great views over the valley.
The other pad joined up with it as it dropped to connect to the face of the main Heysen Range ridge, but it was about this time the rain set in.
We think this lasted for a solid 12 hours, but it was a bit soggy and depressing working our way up the gully to the ridgeline north of Walkandi.
My nephew is a very cheery chap though, and he helped keep the spirits up throughout our walk.

The saddle gap itself was a small bare patch of ground rather exposed to the elements, so we worked our way south towards Walkandi Peak.
This ridge widens out considerably and becomes a broad shelf at the base of the main ascent to Walkandi.
It was still quite difficult finding a nice clear spot for our 2 man tent, but we did eventually put up the tent and it was remarkably well sheltered from the strong winds that came and went through the night.

The rain was heavy and constant enough that it was the first time I had actually been forced to cook in the vestible of the tent.
And it was a rainy, windy night as we went to sleep.

1884RollingFront.jpg
On the climb up the face of the Heysen Range


1888Ridgeline.jpg
Heading up


1892CharacterB.jpg
The spur was delightful


1897MountainDaisies.jpg
Some of the many daisies out on the ranges


1946Campsite&Car.jpg
A view of our tent with Aroona Valley hut and campsite below
Last edited by eggs on Sun 20 Aug, 2017 9:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Aroona Valley and Bathtub Creek

Postby eggs » Sat 19 Aug, 2017 10:56 am

Rain had ceased by morning, but the cloud was still thick - so no great sunrise light shows as you would often expect in the Flinders.
However, we appreciated the lull in the weather giving us time for breakfast and a scramble up the rocky face of Walkandi for some great views all round.
We could see some heavy rain coming in from the west so Mt Hayward would have to wait for another day.
We packed up camp as the rain was starting and we were soon descending back down the gully in thick cloud and increasing rain.
Our route down was more directly along the V and we soon found water flowing in it.

Back at the car, we made use of the old pug & pine hut at Aroona Valley to shelter from the heavy rain, have lunch and repack for the next section.
We were actually there for 2.5 hrs to ensure the rain had ceased, and I was a bit worried we had waited too long to restart.
Now we headed north along the Heysen Trail and the normally dry creeks were substantial flows, but easily negotiated.

1913WalkandiRockD.jpg
On the face of Walkandi with Hayward in view


1916Heysen&ABC.jpg
North view of Heysen Range - Iralbo, Kankana and Mt Falkland amongst the peaks


1948Plains&RainB.jpg
To the west are the vast plains and Lake Torrens - there is rain coming


1955WilpenaBeyond.jpg
South past Mt Hayward is Wilpena Pound embedded in cloud


1967PatwartaB.jpg
To the North East is the isolated Patawarta Hill
Last edited by eggs on Sun 20 Aug, 2017 5:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Aroona Valley and Bathtub Creek

Postby eggs » Sat 19 Aug, 2017 11:04 am

1989HeysenFaceinCloud.jpg
The range in cloud as we descended



2028Flowing.jpg
Aroona Creek was flowing


Just before reaching the watershed of the valley, we left the Heysen Trail and crossed over to the west into the Bathtub Creek drainage.
It begins as a wider valley before narrowing down into some marvellous gorge features with towering rock walls on either side.
We had difficulty negotiating a few sections which may have been a lot easier if the creek had not been flowing.
But the flowing water is what made this trip very special.

Time was running out as we pressed on.
We were hoping to exit the upper gorge into a wide valley with some grassy sections, but eventually gave up and turned back.
We thought we may have to go a long way back to find something suitable, but again realised we would run out of light in the middle of the gorge.
Being a bit desperate we measured out a gravelly bank and found we could just fit the tent in with one peg on the waters edge and the other side wedged on a rock shelf.

It was with relief we started to settle down. We had not yet eaten and it was quite dark when the rain began again.
Expecting it to be short lived - we covered the packs and dived into the tent.
Then we heard it - a great crack of thunder not far away....
A thunderstorm - and here we were in the gorge right next to the creek! A heavy dump on us here would be very dangerous.
Fortunately - that was it. No more thunder and the rain soon stopped. We were safe for now.

2082UpperBathtub.jpg
Upper Bathtub creek


2100poolB.jpg
Into the gorge of Bathtub Creek


2110Scramble.jpg
Negotiating the rocks
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Re: Aroona Valley and Bathtub Creek

Postby eggs » Sat 19 Aug, 2017 11:10 am

2126Gorgeous.jpg
Lovely afternoon light


2135SockSteam.jpg
Funny sight when the boots were off


2144bNight.jpg
Using a torch to light the gorge


2153better.jpg
Between a rock and a wet place


2147bBeam.jpg
Trying out beams of light - a few of the shots had bright blurry streaks - probably due to picking up bats flying around.
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Re: Aroona Valley and Bathtub Creek

Postby eggs » Sat 19 Aug, 2017 1:21 pm

The last day brought beautiful sunny weather. The original plan was to explore onto Iralbo Peak - maybe even as far as Kankana Peak.
But having been slowed down by the rain, we revised our thinking and decided to explore right along Bathtub Creek to Fossil Gorge.
I had read about a waterfall at the exit of the gorge.
We certainly found a lovely one at the exit from the first gorge. This was where we had hoped to camp the night before, but I was glad we turned back.
I would not have liked to scramble past this in the dark.

Proceeding down the wide valley it narrows again into a cliff bound second gorge - Fossil Gorge.
We noted the fossils in the rocks as well as a Mum & kid goat running around the vertical cliffs as if they were child's play.
Not being sure if there was another fall at the exit from this gorge - we explored right out onto the alluvial fan.
We had left the Heysen Range and were looking back.
No second waterfall - so what I had read about the exit was only referring to the first gorge.

2174Reflection.jpg
Morning view


2187Campsite.jpg
Campsite by daylight


2194Gorge.jpg
Further on


2206GorgePoolsB.jpg
Nearing the falls


2225FossilGorge.jpg
Fossil Gorge
Last edited by eggs on Sat 19 Aug, 2017 1:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Aroona Valley and Bathtub Creek

Postby eggs » Sat 19 Aug, 2017 1:25 pm

2238AlluvialFan.jpg
On the Alluvial Fan looking back to the range


2261ExitFalls.jpg
The falls at the end of the first gorge


2264EndOfFirst.jpg
The valley below the falls


2296GoodLight.jpg
Bathtub Creek gorge


2302Gallery.jpg
Enjoyed it with water flowing
Last edited by eggs on Mon 21 Aug, 2017 10:29 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Aroona Valley and Bathtub Creek

Postby eggs » Sat 19 Aug, 2017 1:28 pm

2308PondSeries.jpg
Pools near our camp


2317LeavingGorge.jpg
Heading back out


2322Scrambling.jpg
Fun...?


2333BathTubs.jpg
Some of the bathtubs which give the creek its name


2344NorthArm.jpg
Looking up the North arm of bathtub creek
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Re: Aroona Valley and Bathtub Creek

Postby eggs » Sat 19 Aug, 2017 1:34 pm

Then it was a long walk back to the tent - pack up and head back to the car.
While the Bathtub creek flow was down a bit, the main Aroona Valley creek flow was substantially reduced.
Driving back out, we stopped in at Wilpena Pound and a ranger there noted that the road through Brachina Gorge had been closed the day before due to road flooding.
He said that if we had come out then, we would have been fined a $1000 for each wheel. ie $4,000.
We thought that was a bit tough as we would not have known the road was closed as we were in the middle of that section already.

2368NearingHeysen.jpg
Heading over the watershed to rejoin the Heysen Trail - Mts Dib & Dab in view on the ABC Range


2385AroonaCreek.jpg
Flow of Aroona Creek was dropping


2400Heysen Range Bigger.jpg
A panorama of the Mt Hayward section of the Heysen Range from Aroona valley


Having booked into a cabin for the night at Rawnsley Park, we rose early for those famous Flinders sunrises.
There is a small ridge adjacent to the Rawnsley campground and a few folk had gone up for sunrise.
It was a fantastic spot to see the sun light up the Elder Range and Mt Alec, the walls of Wilpena Pound and the lines of ranges and hills to the south towards Hawker.
All up it had been a varied but memorable trip.

2448FlindersMorning.jpg
Distant view of ranges near Hawker


2457MorningOnTheHils.jpg
Our viewing ridge with Wilpena Walls behind


2468Rawnsley.jpg
Looking back over Rawnsley Park
Last edited by eggs on Sat 19 Aug, 2017 6:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Aroona Valley and Bathtub Creek

Postby jimjim » Sat 19 Aug, 2017 6:07 pm

Fantastic trip and report. Thanks for posting.

Patwarta Hill must be the most spectacular looking "hill" around. I saw it in the distance recently from the Flinders and was wondering what it could be. Now I know! Have you climbed it?
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Re: Aroona Valley and Bathtub Creek

Postby eggs » Sat 19 Aug, 2017 6:16 pm

No - but jez_au has.
I think you need to get station owner permissions to get into it.
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Re: Aroona Valley and Bathtub Creek

Postby eggs » Sun 20 Aug, 2017 5:44 pm

Sorry - I spelt Patawarta incorrectly

Also see http://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=6350 and http://jez-hiking.blogspot.com.au/2009/07/beyond-heysen.html and http://heysentrail.asn.au/heysen-trail/beyond-the-heysen/ for more info.

From the last reference:
•Except for Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park the land is private, you will need permission from landholders. Some land is pastoral lease, some is aboriginal communities, some is national park or wilderness sanctuary. Information about current water conditions from these parties could be invaluable. Please respect landholders and future walkers by gaining permission for all property you cross
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Re: Aroona Valley and Bathtub Creek

Postby peregrinator » Sun 20 Aug, 2017 8:33 pm

eggs wrote:No - but jez_au has.
I think you need to get station owner permissions to get into it.


I have climbed the "hill" from the north, with prior permission. Jimjim, by the way, its name is Patawarta.

Back on topic, thanks eggs for your excellent photographs and commentary on the Heysen Range walk. Pity about the rain disrupting your plans, but it is appropriate to see some H2O in the bathtubs.

Edit: I now see that eggs made the "Patawarta" correction earlier.
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Re: Aroona Valley and Bathtub Creek

Postby eggs » Thu 24 Aug, 2017 12:21 pm

A few have commiserated with me due to weather and changed plans.
I have yet to go on a walk that went perfectly to plans.
Plans are for working out what is possible, and to gain familiarity with the area so that alternatives can be worked out on the run.

And as for rain - it might have been a bit depressing initially, but looking back - why would I have wanted a dry run when the result of the rain was the rare sight of these creeks and waterfalls flowing nicely?
The rain was just the entrance fee to the main performance.
I will just have to go again to get the bright sunlit colours and contrasts from those ridgetop views.

Thinking back on a number of trips in the Flinders; I have also experienced heavy rain in Wilpena Pound, Mambray Creek and Dutchmans Stern and in each case the flowing water that resulted made them very memorable trips indeed.
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Re: Aroona Valley and Bathtub Creek

Postby north-north-west » Thu 24 Aug, 2017 7:01 pm

Winter or summer, I have never had a trip to the Flinders/Gammons where it hasn't rained. Twice there were floods.

I must be some sort of jinx.
"Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens."
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