© Grey Gypsies of Australia
Alice Springs 2018


And Pitchie Richie Railway

Quorn surprised me because of its size and the many high quality nineteenth century public buildings. It was the junction of transcontinental western rail and the Ghan travelling North.., The Station, lovely old Town Hall, certain shops in the main street all are worth looking at. Two ot three good cafes and several pubs with meals and accommodation. We spent the afternoon looking round the town after setting up the van in a surprisingly attractive caravan park organised by long term owners who have planted thousands of native trees and shrubs, turning what I expected was going to be a desolate scene, into a green oasis. This place is well worth a stay. We spent the evening at Emily’s Café where a country music duo with guirarist and huge sound system were singing. Country music conjures up Slim Dusty songs of the outback, drovers, truckies etc – or worse  - the drawling sad songs of lost loves! Not so last night. Alise Simons, a Tamworth winner, was a young woman with a particularly great voice. Brad Butcher , best emerging talent Tamworth, did the second session – a 30-something man who has worked in mines as well as singing on weekends. Great voice, strong guitar playing songs written as a panegyric to his parents. Again a great song writer would help him star. He acknowledged American songwriter Rodney  Crowl as an influence. Does well with strong masculine songs about work etc. Late night for us but enjoyable. Several glasses of St Hallets shiraz helped the evening and some interesting conversations with local people at our table.   

Pitchie Richie Railway

We arose early and drove 35km to Port Augusta to catch the Afghan Express through the Pitchie Richi Pass. School holidays and crowded with 100 or so people in three carriages. We got there early and waited for one and half hours before boarding the steam train at 10.30. Sadly it didn’t depart and around 11am were told the brake compressor had broken down and it would be another one and half hours for a diesel engine to come from Quorn to replace it. We chose not to wait and travelled back by car through Pichi Richi Pass stopping at the key historic sites and bridges to take photos. Named after the Aboriginal narcotic plant ‘pitchuri’, the Pass is largely devoid of houses. Some empty farms are at either end of the Pass and some accommodation seems available on the site of an old village named after the Pass. Everywhere is empty once you travel out of the main small towns. Old and empty. Lonely and abandoned. That’s how this country feels.
Back at Quorn we had a nice lunch at Quandong Café then travelled out to Warren Gorge, one of the many around here and recommended by people last night. Only 30km out of Quorn we saw about six or seven cars or vans in the park surrounding the gorge , which is a popular camping area. Tall free standing columns of fractured sandstone are the monuments in the gorge, most look extremely ancient and unstable, but picturesque. Late afternoon and we were back at the van reading the weekend papers. We discussed whether it was worthwhile to come back to this area and trawl the gorges and Southern Flinders Ranges more thoroughly. Terry has taken some photos but dull clouds this afternoon produced disappointing results for him. Are his photos like others people have been taking? Should test this on Facebook or Instagram
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