Category Archives: Destinations

Bushwalking in the Vulkathunha – Gammon Ranges, South Australia | Pt 2 A Key to Learning About the Gammons

This page provides a key to access the content of a wide range of natural history books available which provide bushwalkers with information about the Vulkathunha – Gammon Ranges National Park in northern South Australia.

Flinders Ranges and Vulkathunha-Gammons Ranges National Parks (RAA)

I have divided the content which could be of interest to bushwalkers into the the following categories for convenience and listed the relevant books, listed below, by letter.

Gammon Ranges, South Australia, Australia (1999  Dr MR Snow)

The relevant books I have on my library shelf  include

A.   C. Warren Bonython. Walking the Flinders Ranges. Adelaide: Royal Geographical Society of South Australia, 2000. [ISABN 0 85179 286 3]

B.   Adrian Heard. A Walking Guide to the Northern Flinders Ranges. State Publishing South Australia, 1990. [ISBN 0 7243 6574 5]

C.   John Chapman  Bushwalking In Australia, 4th edition 2003

D.   Barker, Susan and McCaskill, Murray (Eds) Explore The Flinders Ranges RGSSA Adelaide 2005 [ISBN 0 9596627 6 6 ]

E.   Osterstock, Alan Time: in the Flinders Ranges. Austaprint,1970 [ISBN 0 85872 160 0]

F.   Osterstock, Alan The Flinders in Flower. Austaprint,1975

G.   Corbett, David A Field Guide to the Flinders Ranges Rigby, 1980 [ISBN 0 85872 144 9]

H.   Pedler, Rosemary Plant Identikit: Wildflowers of the Northern Flinders Ranges  Rosemary Pedler1994 [ISBN 0 646 18801 1]

I.   M. Davies,  C.R. Twidale, M. J Tyler Natural History of the Flinders Ranges Royal Society of South Australia Inc 1996

J.  Thomas, Tyrone 50 walks in South Australia Hill of Content, 1992

K.   Morrison, RGB  A Field guide to the Tracks and Traces of Australian Mammals Rigby 1981[ISBN 0 7270 1489 7]

L.   Bonney, Neville & Annie Reid Plant Identikit Common Plants of the Flinders Ranges Neville Bonney1993 [ISBN 0 646 15406 0]

I am sure there are others and would welcome any suggested additions.

Articles in this series about the Vulkathunha – Gammon Ranges

Related Articles

Bushwalking in the Vulkathunha – Gammon Ranges, South Australia | Pt 1 Trip Planning Resources

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Review | The Shell Guide to the Routeburn (NZ) Track by Philip Temple | Pt 2 General Information

Planning to complete the Routeburn track in New Zealand? Want some information about  access, accommodation, weather, clothing and equipment, fitness and preparation. This article is a part review of the 40 page Routeburn Track Guide by Philip Temple, published by Whitcoulls in 1976, which has become a NZ tramping classic and still contains valuable information.

General Information

Ranger Stations and Access

Located at Glenorchy and Te Anau. Check in /out required

Can be walked from either end. Eastern access is from Queenstown to Glenorchy.

Western access from Te Anau to The Divide on the road to Milford Sound


  • Off Track: Queenstown, Te Anau, Glenorchy,  Eglinton Valley (on Te Anau-Milford Hwy)
  • On Track: Commercial Lodges at Routeburn Falls and Lake Mackenzie but can only be accessed as part of a Guided Walk.

Weather and Season

“Prevailing winds are NW and SW; heavy rainfall is common and snow may fall down to 1000m at any time of the year. The Hollyford Face between Harris Saddle and Lake Mackenzie is particularly exposed to wind and precipitation and the Saddle is normally snow bound during the winter and early spring. The usual season for track walking is late November to mid-April. The saddle crossing should not be undertaken at any time except under favourable weather conditions.

Clothing and Equipment

Temple warns that the weather is very variable with trampers needing to carry both warm weather and cold weather/snow gear. He gives the normal warnings about the need for a waterproof parka, well broken in boots, first aid kit compass and map.

Fitness and Preparation

The author gives some excellent advice on the need to be fit and have well broken in boots so that “you will have more time and opportunity  to appreciate the scenery and natural features that you have made so much effort to reach!” His wise counsel that “there’s only one way to get fit for tramping- and that’s tramping” is very sound.

Approach to Walking

I like his hints on how to walk. “Don’t rush and don’t loiter….. And rests should not be too long, otherwise you may stiffen up and lose your rhythm…..Start out early each day, so you always have time on hand. … Remember the golden rule – the pace of the party is that of the slowest member.

Part 3 in this series will discuss the actual route notes provide by Temple.



Related reading

Related Routeburn Track Planning posts

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Tramping Book Review | The Shell Guide to The Routeburn Track (NZ) Philip Temple, 1976

Philip Temple

In the seventies, Philip Temple wrote a series of Shell guides for many of the great New Zealand walking tracks including the Routeburn, Milford, Heaphy, Tongariro, Waikaremoana, Copland and Hollyford.  The Routeburn Track Guide, published by Whitcoulls in 1976, has 40 pages, including a two-page centre map, and a personal notes page. While it is no longer in print, it has become highly sought after as one of the first guides to the track. Philip Temple has written 36 books going back to the early 1960s, with many related to New Zealand and his mountaineering experiences. He was a keen walker, personally walking the routes and taking part in expeditions to New Guinea and the sub-Antarctic. His diverse skills have included landscape photography and he continues to write novels.

I love reading walking guides and my bookshelf is full of such guides. It was therefore with a great degree of anticipation that I waited for my copy, bought online from the Tall Ships Gallery in Palmerston North.

This book is well illustrated by historical photos of Routeburn Flats, The Earland Falls, Emily Peak reflected in Lake Mackenzie, Lake steamer Antrim at Kinloch, Sir Thomas Mackenzie, the original hut at the start of the track, Harry Bryants open air buses, a two page map of the Routeburn track, Routeburn Gorge, Routeburn Falls, Lake Harris in spring, Looking down the Hollyford Valley, Lake Howden and the Greenstone Valley, Mounts Christina, Crosscut and Lyttle, Harris Saddle and shelter.


This guide is one of a series and in the author’s words ” ……designed to assist those who would quit wheels for walking, shoes for boots, and make the effort to explore the country first hand.”

History of the Track

The track has enormous historical significance for the Maoris as it represents an early route from Lake Wakatipu to mine greenstone in the mineral rich ranges to the north-west for trade in South Westland and Central Otago, which continued to the mid-nineteenth century. Wakatipu was first seen by Europeans about the same time. Not long after goldminers, searching for an more direct way to get their gold to Australia other than via Dunedin began exploring the Routeburn with the aim of establishing a port at Martins Bay.

Over the last hundred and forty years, the Routeburn has steadily gained popularity with tourists and trampers. Early in the 1900’s the track was extended from the Harris Saddle to Lake Howden.Then in the nineteen thirties, a motor service from Kinloch into the Routeburn commenced. Just before WWII the final section of the Routeburn track was completed and in the nineteen seventies the road over the Dart river meant that the Routeburn became accessible by motor car, replacing the lake steamer Earnslaw.

General Information

This section gives information about access, accommodation, weather, clothing and equipment, fitness and preparation.

In  future posts, I will comment on Philip Temple’s sound advice and his route guide.

Related reading

Related Routeburn Track Planning posts

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Bushwalking Trip Plan | Routeburn Track, New Zealand | Pt 2

Can the Routeburn Track be walked  in November and, if not, when is the best time? How long do I need to do the walk? Do I require a permit and how much will it cost? How much will it cost from Adelaide for two people for transport and accommodation?

In a previous post Bushwalking Trip Plan | Routeburn Track, New Zealand | Pt 1 , I set out some general questions which had to be first answered before beginning detailed planning and suggested that there were four good places to start  for this sort of general information. My next post Searching for Bushwalking Information on the Web | Search Engines and Social Bookmarking explained some of the techniques which could be used to search for information on the web.  This post will attempt to answer the above questions using the web as a research tool.

Source: Backpack New Zealand

Both the NZ Department of Conservation (DOC) or Mountain Safety Council (MSC) have provided excellent downloadable information relevant to the Routeburn Track.

Publications and Links: Department of Conservation (DOC)

Publications: Mountain Safety Council (MSC)

DOC also have a Fiordland Visitor Centre

 “Always contact the nearest visitor centre for the latest information about facilities and conditions.”

What is the best time to tramp the Routeburn Track?

A little Google research has revealed:

“Great Walks Peak Season (October to May)”  (Source: Routeburn Track Brochure: Department of Conservation (download pdf 2190K)


Routeburn Track Weather at Mackenzie Hut (DOC) reveals that November has an average daily high of 15 °C, highest temp of 24 °C, lowest temp of -2.5 °C and 17 days of rain.  Certainly cold and wet, but great for active walking.  February would be the best time to go with only 9 days of rain and slightly warmer conditions.

“The track is a moderate 30 km long tramp and the best time to walk it is during the summer months as in winter months snow and ice make it hazardous. Like all tracks in New Zealand it is best to contact the department of conservation to get track conditions.(Source: Backpack New Zealand by Gary)

“We then planned to walk the Routeburn track together and established that Feb was the best time for weather, generally being settled at that time and warm enough for an Aussie to handle, …..(Source: A Wet Trip on the Famous Routeburn Track By Richard M Bryant and Elaine Bryant )

“November through April is the season. “ (Source:Classic Hikes of the World: Routeburn Track. An excerpt from Peter Potterfield’s new book on the world’s best hiking routes By Peter Potterfield )

How long do I need to allow for the tramp?

    “Most walkers take three days/two nights to complete the track, usually staying at Lake Mackenzie and Routeburn Falls Huts. However the trip can be extended by also staying at the Lake Howden and Routeburn Flats Huts. Those walking the track from one end and finishing at the other will need to make transport arrangements, as it is 350 kilometres by road between the two ends of the track. Bookings are essential for all overnight stays on the track and can be made online at, or by post, fax, email or phone.” (Source: Routeburn Track Brochure: Department of Conservation (download pdf 2190K) 

“Two to three days are required” (Source: Backpack New Zealand by Gary)

……Three days, two nights ….(Source: Backpack New Zealand)

Rankers Travel Reviews gives feedback from a about 15 trampers who have recently completed the walk and they suggest 2-3 days.

How much will it cost?

Hut Fees

“Fees are charged per person, per night to stay in huts or campsites on the Routeburn Track. There are no fees for park entry. During peak season (26 Oct – 27 Apr) you must pay your fees ($51.50 pp/night) by purchasing Great Walk Tickets – a  booking is required.(Source: Fees and Bookings DOC)


Track Location Map (DOC)

Road Transport

The area is well serviced by commercial companies who can collect and deliver by bus to either end and even drop you off and drive your car to the end and leave it for collection after the walk. Typical transport charges (Kiwi Discovery) to the start of the walk from Queenstown and the return from the Divide are $110 pp. Other centres such as Milford Sound, Glenorchy and Te Anau are also linked.

A list of transport/package providers is on the DOC web page  Transport Options


A typical 4 day Routeburn Track package (Kiwi Discovery) includes transport to and from the track, 2 nights hut fees, 2 nights accommodation (share room) in Queenstown, pre-walk briefing, track map, souvenir book and pack liner, ranges from $585 -$715 per person depending on the quality of the accommodation.

Many people will want to visit Milford Sound which is nearby and can be arranged at additional cost of about $140 including the cruise on the Sound and the extra nights accommodation on the track.

Flights from Adelaide to Queenstown return

Typical flights via Air New Zealand  take about 20 hours overnight and are via Auckland with links to Christchurch then Queenstown, or if your lucky Queenstown  direct from Auckland.

Cost $391- from Adelaide and $347 return (max 23 kg bag)

Overall Cost ( excluding meals)

Per person, using typical prices and  not necessarily the best available

Air Fare: $738 return to Adelaide

4 day Routeburn Package (not including Milford Sound option) $585–$715

5 day Routeburn Package (including Milford Sound option) $725–$865

$738 + $775 (apartment/motel style, share, Milford Cruise option) =$1513 pp

Is it doable from Adelaide in November?  Certainly. 

Are there better options, cheaper packages and fares? Probably.



Your feedback would be appreciated.

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Bushwalking Trip Plan | Routeburn Track, New Zealand | Pt 1

How should I plan a bushwalk in NZ? What are the logistics of such a trip from Australia and within NZ? What maps do I need? Can I upload them to my GPS? What are the risk management requirements of the Routeburn Track ? What is the weather likely to be in November? What special equipment will I need? To whom do I send my trip intentions form, if they are needed? Do I need a permit, and if so from whom? How do I obtain stove fuel or is it provided? Are there huts which I can use or will I need a tent? What emergency communications are available? What is special about the flora and fauna of the area and what field guides should I take? What are the photographic features? How much will it cost?

Invitation to Contribute

I have just started planning a week long trip to the Routeburn Track, in the South Island of New Zealand in November 2011 and thought I would share the process with you as it evolves.  This may not be the way you would do it, and if we differ,  I would encourage you to make alternative suggestions. I will be planning the walk on the basis that it will be independently walked by two experienced, fit bushwalkers, who will share equipment.

The questions listed above came randomly to mind and will all need to be answered before I leave. You may have some other questions you would like answered, if you are intending to do the same trip, or think I have left out and need to add. Your suggestions will be incorporated.

As the planning is a work in progress, it may need to be amended as I progress or receive better advice from others. I am particularly seeking wisdom from those who have walked the track recently and will incorporate your advice with appropriate acknowledgement.

Sequence of planning | Where should I start?

I guess for most people, with limited holidays, the suitability of the time of the year and duration needed are actually the critical  factors, followed closely by the cost.

  • Can I do this trip in November?
  • How long do I need?
  • Can I afford the trip?

There are four good places to start  for this sort of general information:

  • commercial tramping tours
  • regional tourist associations
  • government departments
  • tramping guide books

With some thorough research,  these sources should provide me with the answers to the following questions:

  • Do they go in November?
  • How long do they take?
  • What sightseeing do they incorporate?
  • What are the highlights of the trip that should not be missed?
  • What options ( linking walks) do they provide?
  • Where do they start and finish?
  • What do they charge?

Hopefully, you will be able to help me with this research process.

Other Relevant Posts

Bushwalking Workflow | Planning a Bushwalk

Bushwalking Rescue | Emergency Beacons and Personal Tracking Systems

How do You Organise Your Food for a Multi-day Hike?

Packing for a Bushwalk 

Plan Safer Bushwalks | Weather Forecasts and Climate Records

How much fuel do I need?

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This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.