What? Hiking to Blinman Pools
Where? Angorichina, Flinders Ranges, South Australia.
How long does it take? 5-6 hours
How do I get there? Self-drive, arrange transport.
Accommodation nearby – Wilpena Pound Resort, Rawnsley Park, Blinman Hotel, Angorichina Tourist Village, Prairie Hotel – Parachilna, free camping in Parachilna and Brachina Gorge
Beware of: Summer, being a yuppie, wearing stupid clothing.
Trails SA describes the Blinman Pools hike in the Flinders Ranges as ‘one of South Australia’s great short walks.’ Hiking here is an easy and adventurous twelve-kilometre meander without any real climbing. It’s full of discoveries and observations only those that get out of the car and hike will appreciate. We got back to the car five and a half hours later feeling good and not too exhausted. I chucked all the pics into a gallery at the end of this article when I got home to Adelaide.
The trail starts and ends at Angorichina Tourist Village which is almost smack bang in between Blinman and Parachilna. It was the second of September so the temperature was around twenty degrees. There was hardly any wind, and a big blue sky prevailed. Setting out in the mid moring this time of year isn’t a problem but the warning signs and guides reckon you should watch out for heat in summer.
From a small information shelter the trail drops quickly into Parachilna gorge behind the village. We descended and found a wide open gorge with tall walls, towering gums and a clear water creek flowing across the wide, rocky, and mainly dry riverbed. Parachilna Creek flows clear, untouched by the hundreds of cars smashing through the water crossings daily further downstream.
The recent excellent winter in the Flinders Ranges meant that the country everywhere was a deep green. Tiny blue and white wildflowers, and yellow flowering wattle trees provided a kaleidoscope of colour, set against the reds and oranges of the gorge walls and the grey trunks and green leaves of the river red gums. The creek was flowing in small pools and runs, snaking across the huge creek bed, like it was once a mighty river.
For the first fifteen minutes the trail is easy to follow. You leave the low hum of the village pump behind and step into an isolated and exclusive natural environment. A short way along the track you pass the ruins of three dugouts. Early settlers and their animals often built dugouts in the walls of creek and riverbeds to escape the heat, and, I guess, the need to use much in the way of building materials. According to the signage a family lived in one dugout, and kept goats in the other two.
From here there’s a ‘trail’ either side of the creek and there are points where there is no option but to cross the creek, or just walk up the creek bed. The creek bed winds up a deep gorge, sometimes splitting into two deep channels. Other small creeks come from gullies either side but only one held flowing water.
You’ll hear that Australia’s outback rivers have plenty of water in them but most of the water flows underground. This creek bed is a stark illustration of this. The creek gurgles away happily forming wide pools below small waterfalls (requiring a bit of rock hopping to navigate not unlike some walks I’ve taken in rainforests). Then it disappears into the ground leaving wet sandy streaks in the creek bed. A hundred metres later it appears again as a pool and continues above ground. In still spots the pools grew some awesomely green algae. Where it was flowing the water was perfectly clear, a result of filtration through the sandy river bed.
A new vista opened up before us around every bend. We were constantly gawping at the tall cliffs and the primal but peaceful landscape before us.
Every now and then there are pink trail markers, but we probably missed a whole bunch of these as it is kind of a ‘pick your own trail’ most of the way.
There’s a really large pool and waterfall about five hundred metres before you reach the first pool, we assumed if it was the pool there’d be a sign, and pushed on.
Right on two hours into the hike we got to the first pool.
The pool is around thirty metres in diameter with a gravelly ‘beach’ on the downstream end. A grey rock wall at the upstream end is daubed bright green with algae where the creek trickles over into the pond. The water here is green and murky, as it is in most paces there was little flow.
Someone’s moved one of the perfectly flat pieces of stone which abound around (they look like something from the Flintstones kitchen), to a ledge. It made it easy to lay out the stove and cooking gear to heat up some microwave risotto from the supermarket. We ate that and some yoghurt, and some chocolate. I used my mini water filter to replenish water bottles from the pools. It’s clear and clean water where it has some flow nearby.
It’s a great time to reflect on how far you have come, how isolated you are, and how you are one of a relatively small number of people to make the effort to see this place. We discussed heading up the second pool a kilometre further on… maybe we could bring the hike kit and camp overnight, next time, but we’d have to check with the folks at Angorichina on this point.
The walk back was uneventful but definitely not boring. We saw heaps of goats and kangaroos which we hadn’t seen on the way up. We’d hear them and look up to the top of the cliffs around the gorge and spot a big billy goat, leading a pack of 8-10 goats, peering down at the two legged intruders on their world.
We got back to the car parked at Angorichina Village five and a half hours after setting out…spot on time.
Walkers of all fitness levels and ages could do this walk easily. You could take your kids along, they won’t complain…much.
Go have a prehistoric wilderness adventure that’s unique to the Flinders Ranges.