– by Diane
It was a bit hard to drag ourselves away from the awe-inspiring scenery at Wilpena Pound and the central Flinders Ranges, especially since we had the BEST campsite in the whole park. But we were starting to get itchy feet. Even Leo (our Nissan) was keen to get his “toes” back into the bulldust. So we set off to experience the “real outback.”
Whenever possible we try to get off the beaten track a bit, so we made our way north via the very scenic Parachilna Gorge.
On route, we couldn’t resist walking the start of the Heysen Trail, which starts in Parachilna Gorge and ends 1200 kilometres away at Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula. We would have done the whole thing, but we were running late for the outback.
After a lovely day driving and hiking, we found ourselves at Beltana Station. What a delightful and quirky experience!
We have discovered some great camping at “station stays” in the outback. Many farms, stations & rural properties in Australia offer accommodation, from cottages to camping, with varying levels of luxury.
Beltana Station is a working sheep & cattle station on 460,000 acres, on the northern edge of the Flinders Ranges.
For their guests, there is a museum set in the old shearing shed, bursting at the seams with memorabilia, a restaurant, a range of accommodation, a number of maintained 4WD tracks, a petting nursery, and five-day camel treks.
Apart from the business of sheep, cattle and guests, they have a small herd of alpacas and an even smaller “gang” of outcast male alpacas, with a psychotic gang leader.
Seriously, the first thing we were told upon arriving is, “Watch out for Chocolate, he’s a spitter.” Thankfully, he was fairly occupied terrorizing one of the staff members, so he didn’t really have time to practice his special talent on us.
The day we arrived, “the boys” had rounded up a couple hundred feral goats to sell to the US, and a group of yogis were starting to arrive for the next camel trek.
Never a dull moment at Beltana Station…
We stayed long enough to explore the area, soak up the vibe, and enjoy some social interaction of both the animal and human variety.
I lent a hand with some cooking and cleaning, and Rod made good use of the well-equipped camp kitchen. It was very nice to be able to help out, and spread out for a few days. But alas, the Oodnadatta Track was calling, so we bid the Beltana crew a fond farewell and set off for the “real outback.”