5 WOMEN, 5 DAYS, 4 BAKERIES

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As part of wanting to create more Micro-Adventures and Wise Women Walking trips closer to Adelaide in 2017, I decided to conduct a ‘recce’ trip to the Flinders Ranges.

With the goal of creating shorter, lower cost opportunities to get more women involved with the outdoors, connecting with nature and more importantly with themselves, I wanted to create a soft adventure trip with the company of other like-minded women – the ultimate market research. So I gathered a small group of amazing and inspiring friends who have backed the vision and heart behind Big Heart Adventures from the very beginning – my very own cheerleaders – now known as the Flinders 5.

Together we tested out the experience to create the combination of challenge, comfort and dare I say it, glamping.

These 4 women love being active, love connecting with new people and basically love a bit of adventure. For some it was a step outside their comfort zone – perfect! These Flinders 5 were known to me but not necessarily each other, so it did become an intense bonding experience from the moment they squeezed into the back seat of my Holden Rodeo 4WD. They were happy chatters for the 3-hour drive to Pichi Richi Park where we shared a cabin and got very used to sharing not only car space but bunk bedding and one bathroom.

Coffee stops, pastries and cake featured heavily from the moment set off. Confessing our love of food (that might contain a bit of fat and sugar), it became clear early on that this was not going to be a cleansing or detoxing kind of trip!

Over the course of 5 days and 4 nights, we took short walks, medium walks and longer ones. We even managed a rocky scramble and steep climbs which was a highlight for many of us despite the fear of heights standing on rocky edges. The views were simply awesome, worth every step.

Seeing the Flinders Ranges so green was incredible and unique. After such a wet winter, the landscape colours were vibrant with greens contrasting with spring wildflowers, earthy gorges and canola fields. Even seeing creeks flowing in places where water flows rarely was an absolute highlight.

Mother Nature had a few ideas in store for us though, we had to abandon our first longer walk on Day 2 due to thunderstorms – we returned early and about 2km from the summit of Mt Brown – that was hard to accept but safety comes first. As we slipped and slid our way back to the car, the rain set in and we found ourselves back in Quorn having our picnic lunch by the railway siding – a huge thunderstorm hit later that afternoon.

We enjoyed a moderate circuit walk at Dutchman’s Stern on Day 3 for a few hours – this walk had gorgeous views and a steady uphill and downhill gradient. We enjoyed lunch by the Homestead and Shearers Quarters before calling back through Quorn for a coffee.

We decided after staring at Devil’s Peak for a few days that it was finally time to climb. This walk is a steep one but relatively short so we could fit this one in first thing, have lunch and then try another short walk in the afternoon if we felt up to it. This was a challenging walk (and gosh I loved it!) but the satisfaction of standing at the peak gave me jelly legs. Not all of us like heights but wow, the views were stunning. Most of us confessed to loving a rocky scramble – so the final stages were a bit of fun.

In the afternoon we tried a shorter and slightly easier walk compared to our longer jaunts at Warren Gorge. I had camped here years ago with hubby and some close friends but all I could remember was the full moon rising over a ridge and the region was in drought back then. By day this gorge was stunning. Plus there was a flowing creek that we followed to begin with full of tadpoles. This walk took an hour or so, and despite the flies (OMG) and the swooping magpie, we had a leisurely walk in the spring sunshine.

The combination of walking and glamping each day was accidentally balanced perfectly and allowed recovery and rest time. Whether it be a half day of walking or a bit longer, we had some gorgeous picnics on knolls and hillsides and as we had to pass through Quorn each day, we patronised the local bakery for a coffee or something sweet. And phone/internet coverage. It was lovely to be off the grid for most of the time we were away.

By mid-afternoon each day, we returned back to the cabin for relaxation, sitting outside facing Devil’s Peak, chatting and laughing. Those impromptu deep and meaningful discussions and laughs while you sit around drinking tea and coffee and maybe picking at a cheese platter are something that happen naturally and beautifully. Much the same as the chats that happen when you are out walking. A deeper side of ourselves surfaces and through that process we bond closely to the women we walk with. We also learn so much from each other.

An amazing appreciation for our earth also happens. The beauty of our surroundings, the colours, the views, the things we just don’t see at home in suburbia. It wakes us up, assaults our senses on all fronts and you feel gratitude and peacefulness when immersed in nature. You also feel a massive urge to protect it and care for it.

Walking brings us not only closer to nature but also ourselves. Our minds clear and worries fade. It’s a purer and addictive state of mind.

On our final day, we headed off early to squeeze in what could have been a 3 hour walk at Alligator Gorge on our way back to Adelaide. Wow. We had accidentally saved the best til last!

We were going to follow the gorge and do a circuit walk of about 7km but the creek, as beautiful and rare as it was, with all its flow, was just too deep and after an hour of rock hopping we couldn’t get any further and had to turn back. But that wasn’t before I slipped and fell in bruising my knee (and my ego). Disappointed but energised by the drama of this walk, we returned to the car – another member also slipped and fell – more wet feet and a pulled muscle. It was definitely time to go home.

After changing wet clothes, getting a few items out of the first aid kit for those who needed it, we headed through Melrose and onto Laura for the mandatory Stone Hut Bakery stop. Despite the amazing pastries, quandong apple crumble and coffee, we also stopped at a bakery in Clare for one last hurrah – it really was a crime to not stop at these wonderful eateries even if it was for take home treats for our families! Country bakeries are just a different calibre of baked goods.

Literally, we rolled back to Adelaide. All reluctant to see the adventure over for now but looking forward to returning with friends or new faces as part of our 2017 Micro-Adventures for Women program.

This little adventure would not have been possible without the women who participated and offered their time and selves to this experience – massive thanks to Christine, Alice, Kellie and Mica – for being awesome cheerleaders of all things Big Heart Adventures and Wise Women Walking and for being the original Flinders 5.

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