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Gammon Ranges 2010

Wed 14 Jul, 2010 8:00 pm

After visiting the Gammons for the first time last year [see],
a group of 4 of us completed an alternative circuit over 5 days last week.

After driving up from Adelaide over 8 hours - we did a short walk from Italowie Gap along the boulder strewn Dr Chewings Creek to a small knoll at the entrance to McKinley Basin. The day was very dull and poor for photographs.
The next day was just as bad for cloud, but was extreme for physical effort - carting 26kg packs up the 600m craggy face of Mt McKinley (1050m)
At the top is a very large mortared cairn and the remains of a small scientific expedition - walls, old oven & fireplace. We had ice on the tents overnight.
However, the next morning was clear and had views all around as the sun lit up the landscape.

Near the start of the walk up Dr Chewings Creek

View back to McKinley Basin and Dr Chewings Creek from the ascent ridge up the face of Mt McKinley

Climbing up the ascent Ridge

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Wed 14 Jul, 2010 8:04 pm

Small bird captured near the top of the ridge

Bit of a light show in the West from Mt McKinley

First light over the ranges to the North

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Wed 14 Jul, 2010 8:07 pm

WOW, McKinley looks like brilliant fun!!!.
I'm guessing the weight was due to carrying enough water for however many days?

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Wed 14 Jul, 2010 8:21 pm

The 26kg was due to 4-5 L each of water to last a few days. I was also carrying over 3 kg of camera gear.

Morning light Looking West from Mt McKinley to Mt Searle

Panorama South from McKinley

We proceeded down the ridge edge to a connecting ridge to Pine Saddle. From there it was a tough scrub bash to the top of Octopus Hill.
The scrub was not thick - but it was interlaced and was very tough on the muscles as we were pushing for time.

The far side of Octopus was bare - though there is significant regrowth starting up from recent good rains.
However, we failed to get up the courage to attempt what appeared to be near vertical gullies disappearing into the adjacent gorge.
So we followed the ridge all the way down till a last cliff line before the creek needed to be negotiated. Here we struck some significant loose rock - and between my head almost being hit (bounced off the shoulder blades) and my son almost being steamrolled by a body sized boulder while we were pack hauling, we revised our schedule and slowed down.
After an amble into the gorge we had avoided coming down, we ended up at Junction Waterhole - which was absolutely delightful camping.

Zoom in on Cleft Peak from the descent ridge off Octopus Hill

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Wed 14 Jul, 2010 8:30 pm

That's awesome eggs, thanks for sharing, hope there is more.......
BTW the shot of the bird in particular is stunning!

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Wed 14 Jul, 2010 8:33 pm

Junction waterhole late afternoon

Campfire lighting up gorge walls at Junction Waterhole on a starry night.

Next day we proceeded up Streak Gorge, over a saddle and down into the Terraces creek.
After getting to an upper creek junction, we downed packs and had a very easy side trip up to the Prow.
After lunch back at the packs we passed through the main part of the Terraces where I counted above 12 waterfalls that had to be climbed down.
We passed the packs a few times here as well - and some of the falls were boxed in by walls and quite big drops.
We ran out of time to check out Fern Chasm (but had done it the previous year) - so we proceeded to get to Rover Rockhole by the short but very steep route over a saddle.

A Waterfall in the upper Terraces

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Wed 14 Jul, 2010 8:36 pm

View to Cleft and McKinley Bluff from the Prow

Negotiating one of the bigger falls in the Terraces.

Some very good water at Rover Rockhole - trickling from pool to pool

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Wed 14 Jul, 2010 8:43 pm

The very deep and reliable rockhole perched above the falls at Rover Rockhole

Next day we used the alternative track around the Rover falls (although my son insisted on climbing down it with full pack on :roll: ) and then skirted around Cleft Peak - marvelling at the high cliffs that are all around.
In the afternoon we proceeded up Scree creek before a very arduous climb onto the McKinley Bluff ridge-line.
From there it was an easy clamber past the proper peak and onto a good campsite high up on the far side.

The high cliff walls over South Branch of Italowie as we were skirting around Cleft Peak

Looking up the enormous scree after which Scree Creek is named.

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Wed 14 Jul, 2010 8:52 pm

Working our way up Scree Creek on a warm afternoon.

Resting on the ridgeline of McKinley Bluff before finishing the ascent

View from McKinley Bluff ridgeline over Mt John Roberts, the Blue Range and the various pounds and ranges on the south side of the park

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Wed 14 Jul, 2010 8:59 pm

How stable is that scree?

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Wed 14 Jul, 2010 9:11 pm

[NNW - I have no idea about the stability of the big scree, but it is very steep and I doubt anyone would try to climb it.
There are some reasonable screes for climbing, but there are also a lot you can see which would be suicidal - being very fine and extremely steep]

The last night saw our tents being battered by a strong North wind, before it turned west and got stronger.
Then the driving rain came - though it was not heavy. (This is a desert range)
After a restless night - we packed up quickly - careful to not let anything blow over the edge - before setting off carefully over now slippery rocks.
The route off McKinley Bluff that we took is down a very steep gully - sometimes sliding down loose scree.

It leads to an easy creek before entering Pinch Gorge. This had a single tricky part - and it is where I lost my camera and 2 lenses.
I should have packed the camera away before climbing up the steep and polished side of the gorge. This was necessary due to the deep waterhole filling the gap.
However, with the camera clipped to my front I got to the crux of the shelf where the upper part juts out forcing one to hug the rock.
This required unclipping the camera and in an attempt to lob it to my son - it hit the rock and broke one lens in two before tumbling into the waterhole.
Although the Pentax K20D is watersealed, this is of no use when the front lens is snapped in 2 allowing water into the body.
My other zoom lens was also wrecked by water getting in.
So for the brief remainder of the trip - past McKinley Springs and through Italowie Gorge - I was in a state of mourning and no photos.

To summarise
- we were very thankful noone was killed or injured - this is a tough place to walk
- cameras are consumable items and should not cause too much angst if they are gone [keep telling myself this.. :cry: ]
- it was good to have gone this year when water was reasonable and before the incredible regrowth starts to make some tracks much harder to negotiate.
- the undergrowth was also very uncharacteristically thick - with some lovely flowers around.
This might well be my last run through the Gammons - but it is a magnificent place.

Had a lovely display of rainbows as sun and rain combined in the views south and west of our campsite.

The route we took off McKinley Bluff is down the scree and small cliff that dissects these walls

The last waterhole in Pinch Gorge - lost the camera trying to climb around it on the right side.
Last edited by eggs on Wed 21 Jul, 2010 1:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Wed 14 Jul, 2010 9:23 pm

Oh dear. That's a pity. After Cleft Peak last year, I really can sympathise.
And I'll bet there were some brilliant scenes after the camera went. That's one of the basic laws of photography.

But look on the bright side: you get to go shopping for a whole new set of gear. You might even luck out and buy a Canon. ;)

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Wed 14 Jul, 2010 9:49 pm

very nice eggs, love the campfire shot, shame about the camera

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Thu 15 Jul, 2010 11:01 am

Beautiful scenery, and a fantastic set of photos. Thanks for posting them, Eggs.

It's so different to what I'm used to in Tasmania, but still spectacular. :-)

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Thu 15 Jul, 2010 12:16 pm

Nice works Eggs, some great photos, pity about the camera, but as you said at least they can be replaced! Looks like challenging and interesting walking, certainly a lot different to what Tassie has to offer.

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Thu 15 Jul, 2010 7:34 pm

Sounds like a great trip. some nice pics.
Didnt you say 3kg of camera grea... for one camera???

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Fri 16 Jul, 2010 11:32 am

Thanks for your comments.

The small birds were flitting through while we were resting, so I changed over to the bigger zoom lens and sat around for a while waiting. Finally one of them popped onto a branch not far from me and I took the snap on mid-zoom - but it then flitted off before I got a max zoom shot. Still very pleased with it.

The campfire shot was a 30 second exposure using my large tripod.

So with a camera and 2 lens, case, spare battery and filter weighing in at 2.3kg and the tripod around 1kg - that is the 3kg+ I mentioned.

The Flinders really are different. As a desert range, the going is normally quite open, but the high ridges and plateau of the Gammons have quite a lot of small tangled scrub.
There are no real "tracks" - apart from the few next to civilisation that Parks have put in. The tracks we followed (if any) were mainly animal pads and the odd constrained route where you could see people had been before. The creek beds really test the ankles - particularly when carrying packs and seeking to move quickly.
We used a hired SPOT to record our track and as emergency backup - but the details are now disappearing from our web page. It only stores them for a short time. I did not take one last time, but you are a long way from help up there, and we only saw 2 others coming in on the day we walked out.

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Fri 16 Jul, 2010 11:57 am

Great trip, and wonderful photos Brian. I always thought I would find areas like the Gammon and Flinders Ranges dull compared with Tassie. But my brief experience there a few years back taught me otherwise. I loved that "seeing the bones of the earth" aspect of the more arid ranges. They seep into your soul!

BTW - I suspect that bird is a grey-fronted honeyeater. If not, then you could stick with the standard nomenclature, LBB (Little Brown Bird) :wink: Incidentally, when I was with some birdos in Scotland, they told me they refer to unidentified small birds as WBJs (Wee Brown Jobbies). Love it :lol:



Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Fri 16 Jul, 2010 12:05 pm

But sad about the camera :(

When the mourning period - and the fiscal downturn - are over, let us know what you get to replace your "departed" gear.

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Fri 16 Jul, 2010 12:14 pm

I hope my accident insurance will cover some of it. And Pentax is quietly marketed - sold by word of mouth rather than bold promotion.
Hence it not getting much of a mention in the Nikon / Canon wars on this site :roll:
I expect I will pick up a new K7 and the same 2 lenses (17-70mm SDM - very good, 55-300mm - quite workable at lower weight)

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Fri 16 Jul, 2010 4:11 pm

eggs, I'm sorry to read about your loss Mate.

I look forward to seeing where you shoot next ... with your new camera.

This is undoubtedly the best landscape coverage taken during a walk, that I've been fortunate to see.


Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Fri 16 Jul, 2010 4:58 pm

Gosh Warren - that is too kind. [Or are you getting on and the memory is starting to fade :wink: ]
I am still working through 567 photos - this was a quick but happy selection.
Knowing my history with photo processing - it will remain an uncompleted task due to time and new walks.

Parks over here is running a photo competition and I have just put a selection from this walk in to it.
I will be lucky to reach the finalist listing though.


Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Sat 17 Jul, 2010 7:42 pm

Wonderful photos eggs. I have walked the Gammons and the more southerly Flinders Ranges many times and it is truly a wonderful area to walk in, the Gammons especially (and especially when there is cool, clear water in the waterholes!) Thanks for posting them.


Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Wed 21 Jul, 2010 2:02 pm

Thought I would add a few more stitched panoramas:

Curious sky just before sunset from Mt McKinley

The very large and prominant rock wall above Scree Creek

A stitched rainbow over Mt McKinley from near McKinley Bluff

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Wed 21 Jul, 2010 2:04 pm

A couple more - this is a very large Panorama - I think about 9 photos all up.
It covers the entire section known as the Gammons Plateau - so click in and pan to get a feel for the extent of this scrub covered area.

The Gammons Plateau by the first light of morning

Finally a late afternoon vista to the East from McKinley Bluff

View east from the top of McKinley Bluff

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Wed 21 Jul, 2010 4:09 pm

Truly beautiful Eggs. Especially that rainbow shot.
Really looks a great walk.

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Wed 21 Jul, 2010 7:17 pm

Yeah, it's a brilliant area. I have to get back soon.

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Tue 27 Jul, 2010 6:25 pm

Hi Brian. In order of priority, congratulations on a fantastic and overall successful walk, congratulations on all of the images shown so far - fantastic. Thank you for sharing the images and descriptions with us. And sorry to read of the loss of your camera and lenses. I know how that feels. Total insurance on so much camera gear is expensive, but as proven to me, invaluable. More so for me now with more expensive glass etc.
Good luck with yours.

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Tue 27 Jul, 2010 8:40 pm

Awesome set of photos brian, this is in australia! reminded me of utah desert (from watching bear grylls).
Love the campfire one

Re: Gammon Ranges 2010

Wed 28 Jul, 2010 11:06 am


Great report & simply fantastic photo's.

See Tassy doesn't have a mortgage on great scenery :)

The Flinders/Gammon area is absolutely fantastic and you've whetted my whistle to go back. (Actually we were in the Hawker/Wilpena area in May & have already planned our trip back there for the end of August)

Indeed a pity about the camera, perhaps a Sony alpha next (NNW ;) ) - with that weight of gear have you considered Lumix GF1 or Sony nex 5?
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