The Dutchmans Stern Hike! Southern Flinders Ranges, SA
‘Visit the Crazy Horse – but not on Monday’ the log book entry read.
Who knew why, with the magnificent panorama from the Dutchman’s Stern summit all around them, two German hikers were reminded of an Adelaide nightclub 300-odd kilometres away? (Note to self – what IS the Monday deal at the Crazy Horse, anyway??).
However, irrespective of the origin theory to which you subscribe, the Dutchman’s Stern has dominated its eponymous Conservation Park only marginally longer than the Crazy Horse has dominated the west end of Adelaide’s Hindley Street.
And that’s the only connection I can find between the two!!
It’s almost worth the Dutchmans Stern Hike’s 10.5 km round trip (download brochure here) just to read the log book at the summit. A pot-pourri of demographic information (eg names, dates, weather reports, wildlife sightings, a surprisingly high number of countries of origin) is supplemented by a range of comments – both comical and asinine – and I’ll leave you to decide into which category the one above falls!
But nothing, NOTHING detracts from the jaw-dropping view – almost a complete 360º taking in Port Augusta and the top of Spencer Gulf to the west; Devil’s Peak, Mt Brown and the Richman Valley further south; Quorn (the nearest town) and Wilpena Pound and the Elder and Yappala Ranges to the north.
Although apparently we were the lucky ones – according to the log book the view has been blocked by fog more than once! I can’t imagine walking all that way to see NOTHING! Especially when if you CAN see something, it’s such a spectacular, stupendous something!!
The medium grade hike to the 820m high Dutchman’s Stern summit, one of several walks in this former pastoral lease and intersected by the Heysen trail, is less difficult than lengthy.
And if I say it’s not a hard walk, you can depend upon it, as unlike those who recorded in the log book the exact (short) length of time it took to reach the summit (like anyone cared!!), I’m not a martyr to fitness – or one-upmanship! Just look at my profile picture if in any doubt …
So Pilchard and I meandered the ever upwardly zig-zagging trail through low grassland, purple with introduced weed Salvation Jane (Echium plantagineum) and dotted with the endemic Quorn Wattle (Acacia quornensis); then through Sugar Gum woodland, before reaching the wildflower extravaganza (still flowering in October 2010) of the heathland followed by the more sparsely vegetated rocky outcrops towards the summit.
After sighting the summit’s resident Peregrine Falcon, we descended via the 10.5 km loop rather than the shorter 8.2km direct return walk, through Drooping Sheoak and Sugar Gum woodlands into the steep, scree-lined slopes of Stony Creek gorge before returning to the trail head.
But … if I had a choice between an un-fogged summit view and a GW sighting on MY Dutchmans Stern Hike experience, I’d choose the view any day!
Just don’t tell birdo Pilchard!!