Carradoo Tanks to Pildappa Rock

Leaving Carradoo Tanks campsite Tuesday morning, we passed through Kimba, home of the Big Galah spotting a truck carrying a number of V8 Supercars including Peter Brock’s 05 Torana heading towards Adelaide. But we’re not sure why they were headed that way? The Adelaide Clipsal 500 was on that weekend in Adelaide. Were they there? If so, why are they heading back that way?

We continued along the Eyre Highway to Wudinna where we stopped to have a look at the amazing Australian Farmer sculpture. Also known as the Big Farmer, this statue has been recognised as one of Australia’s Big Things like the Big Galah in Kimba. We’ll have to keep an eye on that list as we travel around and tick them off.

The Australian Farmer

The information below was gleaned from a display in the Information Centre, the Wikipedia article and from the statue itself. Standing at 8 metres (26 ft) in height, the work was hand-carved from 70 tonnes of red Hiltaba Granite (Desert Rose), locally sourced from a quarry south of Mount Wudinna. This is an amazing sculpture that took 17 years to realise from the local community first conceiving that they wanted a work of art in 1992 to recognise their history, community spirit and belief in rural Australia to its unveiling on 17th April 2009.

After a tender in 1999, Croatian-born artist Marijan Bekic responded to the advertisement, producing a scale model of his concept, and this was shown to the local community. After years of trying to obtain funds and get committee approval, the project finally commenced in 2007, with a projected construction time of twelve months. It took two years for Marijan and his son David to complete.

The head represents the Sun, the symbol of life. The back is the male side and represents good years – wheat heads full of grain and healthy sheep, symbolising a successful year. The front is a tribute to female farmers. The seven missing grains symbolise drought years, hardship and battle for survival. The children represent generations, past and the future, a symbol of hope. The right side shows a sickle, wheat and lambs, representing good years, harvest, tall and thick grain crops, lambs growing and fertility. The left side shows wool hand shears and mature sheep ready for shearing, symbolising a good shearing season.

The four walk ways towards the sculpture represent North, South, East and West and symbolise community spirit, togetherness, helping and caring for each other – children, families and generations. There are plaques on three sides around the walk ways of people and local families who donated their time, money and who were involved in the project.

Don’t go past this sculpture in this small rural town without stopping and spending some time in the Information Centre and driving around the town. The Gawler Ranges National Park is not far from here either. We visited there last in April 2011 on the way back from Lake Gairdner and look forward to visiting it again someday, it’s beautiful!

At the Information Centre we obtained some information about the granite and amazing rock formations around the area so decided to head to Mount Wudinna.

Make sure you get a copy of Central Eyre Peninsula Geological trails from the Information Centre as it’s very informative. It’s also available in pdf from the Geological Society of Australia website.

On the hunt for Inselberg’s and Gnamma’s

About 12 Km North East from Wudinna on a gravel road, but suitable for large vans is Mount Wudinna, the largest granite rock monolith or inselberg in central Eyre Peninsula standing 261 metres high. An inselberg, translated from the meaning “Island Mountain” in German is an isolated hill, ridge, or small mountain that abruptly protrudes from a virtually level surrounding plain.

It is locally reputed to be Australia’s largest rock monolith after Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) in the Northern Territory. But Uluru is composed of sandstone, whilst Mount Wudinna is granite. However, this is a local claim only and there are many inselbergs in Western Australia larger than Mount Wudinna like Mount Augustus and we’re looking forward to visiting them in our travels.

The walk from the park to the top doesn’t take long and is not too difficult. You are rewarded with 360 degree views around the area. On the top we spotted a small lizard near the Trig point, some type of bearded peninsula dragon. After much googling, we still can’t correctly identify it, so if you know what it is, please let us know. The bare rock faces on the way up and on the top illustrate many granite features including erosional drains (rillen), caves (tafoni), flared slopes, water holes (gnammas) and buckled slabs of rock (A-Tents).

A gnamma is a rock hole capable of containing water. The word originated from the Nyungar native language of South Western Australia and is being applied across the country to various types of weathering pits. These occur mainly in granite and this part of the North Western Eyre Peninsula has numerous and varied examples on the inselbergs and rock outcrops of this granite country.

Near the base we came across some sticky hop bush trees (Dodonea viscosa) which caught Vic’s attention. Apart from their fine wood turning qualities, apparently they were also used by early settlers to make beer!

Pildappa Rock, a mini Uluru

We also visited Pildappa Rock, about 15Km North East from Minnipa, on a good gravel road. Another amazing inselberg, sort of like a mini Uluru and Hyden’s Wave Rock together. No one else was there and there were lots of places to camp so we decided to stay for the night. It has good drop toilets, free gas BBQ’s, tables, bins and shelters. There’s also a donation box so please leave something as you don’t often come across sites this clean and beautiful.

Pildappa Rock was only 214Kms from last night’s camp at Carradoo Tanks. We hadn’t travelled far, but have seen a lot! We climbed and walked around the top, seeing good examples of gnammas that we now know so much about! It was warm with perfect blue skies but windy all afternoon which helped to keep the flies off.

Dinosaur Ants

The next day was overcast and the wind had dropped to gentle. We wanted to stay another night but it was Wednesday and we had to be in Cook the next day so we headed off towards the Nullarbor. Just up the road from Minnipa we stopped at the Poochera Roadhouse to change drivers and noticed a large Dinosaur Ant sculpture. It was there to recognise this rare ant which was found in the mallee scrub nearby in 1977.

Also known as the dawn ant, as they return to their nests at dawn and stay inside during the day, its venom causes a painful sting. It is a rare genus of ants consisting of a single species called Nothomyrmecia Macrops and designated as Critically Endangered. Who knew? The things you learn when you stop and read the signs!

We continued our journey to the Nullarbor and on to Cook

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