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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

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

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

    Where are the Gammons? Why visit the Gammons? When is the best time to visit the Gammons and how long do you need? What level of experience do you need and does it require any special planning and equipment because of its remoteness? What resources are available to help you plan, appreciate and enjoy what you see?

    UPDATE: there has been a mouse plague in the Gammons (April -? 2011) and I would advise taking your tent inner, storing food outside your tent in air tight bags and hanging your food out of reach.

    Bushwalking, Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park ……..in brief

    Gammon Ranges 

    Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park is an arid wilderness of spectacular rugged ranges and deep gorges 400 km N of Port Augusta off the Copley-Balcanoona Rd. The park has important cultural significance for the Adnyamathanha people who are the traditional custodians of the region. There are several access points, both for 2WD and 4WD vehicles, with the heart of the park offering challenging wilderness bushwalking experiences. The park includes limited caravan sites, bush camping, 4WD touring tracks and several accommodation options. Bookings are essential for hut accommodation and shearers’ quarters. The park adjoins Lake Frome Regional Reserve and shares a boundary with Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges Traditional Owners and DEH co-manage the park. ” (DENR )

    Google Aerial view of the Gammons

    View Larger Map

    Access

     The last 100 km is largely over dirt roads, which can sometimes be badly corrugated. If you wish to set up a base camp at Grindell Hut inside the Park, I recommend that you use a 4WD as the tracks are sometimes sandy and the wheel ruts can be deep. Many conventional cars will not have sufficient ground clearance. Make sure you carry essential spare parts for your vehicle and read the RAA Outback Driving booklet. 

    Up-to-date road conditions can be checked via the Far Northern and Western Areas road condition hotline – 1300 361 033 or by visiting http://www.dtei.sa.gov.au. Alternatively call the Desert Parks information line on 1800 816 078.

    Google Map Directions Adelaide to Copley (just north of Leigh Creek)
    SA Outback Fuel Chart
    (pdf)
    Google Map Directions Adelaide to Copley( just north of Leigh Creek)
    Google Maps Copley, Vulkathuna – Gammon Ranges Nat Pk and Arkaroola Village

    Outback Driving (RAA)

    Climate

    If you are planning a trip to northern SA (eg the Gammons) check the forecast carefully as the temperature is often in the high twenties or low thirties, when it is in the high teens in Adelaide. My experience is that it is often 5 -10 degrees warmer than Adelaide but colder at night. 

    Check the Weatherzone climate statistics for Arkarooola  , the nearest weather station or visit the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary’s Climate Information page which compares the climate with other capital cities.

    Long term averages show May to early September to be the  best from a temperature perspective (mean max 19-20 deg C). Mean minimum temperatures are 3-7 deg C, (lightweight sleeping bag weather). Days of rain 3, mean rain 6-10 mm (you may even risk just a fly depending on the month)

    Further north in the Gammons, water can also be short supply after six months with little rain. A spring/early summer trip is risky as most rain falls in December-March as the tail ends of monsoons sweep down SE from the Kimberley and most will have gone by then.

    Fire Bans

    All wood fires or solid fuel fires are prohibited from 1 November 2010 to 31 March 2011. Gas fires are permitted other than on days of total fire ban. For further information, please contact the Port Augusta Regional Office (08) 8648 5300, the Wilpena Visitor Centre (08) 8648 0048 or the CFS Fire Bans Hotline 1300 362 361.  Timely reminder of fire restrictions in parks (DENR 103kb pdf)

    Time Required

    The Vulkathuna – Gammon Ranges are a long drive of 8 – 9 hours from Adelaide, over unsealed roads from Copley, which can be badly corrugated depending on how recently they have been graded. For most people, the two days of travel encourages you to spend a minimum of  3-5 days in the Gammons, including some time at the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary and the Paralana Hot Springs which are a short drive away. If you based yourself at Grindell Hut within the Park, then  it would be possible to spend a whole week in the Park and then at least another three days at Arkaroola.

    Panorama of Grindell’s Hut, showing the hut and the landscape surrounding it. (Peter Neaum 2009-09-10)

    Bushwalking Experience Level

    The Gammons are remote with the nearest major town, Leigh Creek, a hundred and thirty kilometres away to the west, which takes about 2-4 hours, depending on the state of the road. In addition to the remoteness, water supplies are unpredictable, the temperatures much higher than Adelaide and the terrain rugged, with significant exposure at times, when climbing the waterfalls. A high level of navigation skill, using both map and compass and GPS, is required as most of the walking trails are off-track with no signage and no trail markers. This Park is designated as being unsuitable for beginning bushwalkers, with experience of multi-day hikes, the ability to carry heavy loads and self-sufficiency in terms of first aid and training a necessary requirement. The carrying of an emergency beacon (PLB), GPS, relevant maps, mobile phone and even a UHF radio in case of emergency communication with nearby stations is advised. Don’t forget to leave your trip intentions form with the Ranger at Balcanoona.


    Flinders Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Outback South Australia 4wd  Tracks and Repeaters Brochure  (5.5Mb, pdf)

    Department Environment and Natural Resources

    Park Passes
    Park Closures
    Trip Intentions Form (323kb pdf)
    Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park (647kb pdf)
    Wildlife of the Desert Parks (419kb pdf)
    Balcanoona Shearer’s Quarters Booking Information (145kb pdf)
    SA National Parks Guide – Flinders Ranges and Outback Region (816kb pdf)
    Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park Weetootla Hike Network brochure (686kb pdf)

    Itineraries

     John Chapman’s Gammon Ranges

    Maps

    Maps: 1:50,000 Topographic Illinawortina, Nepabunna, Serle, Angepena
    Northern Flinders Ranges (1.4MB pdf)
    South Australian Outback (1.2MB pdf)
    The Map Shop 
    Map index:  Arkarooola – Gammon Ranges – Yudnamutana – Farina
    Map Index:  North Flinders – Wilpena – Blinman – Leigh Creek – Balcanoona
    RAA Flinders Ranges & Outback Maps 

    Further Reading 

    Online

    South Australia: Vulkathana – Gammon Ranges (ABC, Program One: 29 December 2003 )
    The Grindell Murder Case (Flinders Ranges Research)
    Gammon Ranges Bunyip Chasm (ExplorOz)
    Grindell Hut ( ExplorOz)
    Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park (Wikipedia)
    Department of Environment and Natural Resources Search Results| Gammons
    Biological Survey of the North West Flinders Ranges (near Leigh Creek) (4.48mb pdf)
    Gammon Ranges National Park Access Guide and Newsletter 2006 Autumn Edition (SA Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs Inc) (149kb pdf)
    Arkarola Wilderness Sanctuary Activities (nearby tourist accommodation)

    Photos

    Bushwalk
    Gammon Ranges (Flikr) 

    Scientific Expeditions Group (SEG)

    Vulkathunha Gammon Ranges Scientific Project (VGRaSP)
    Vulkathunha Gammon Ranges Scientific Project | General Description (VGRaSP 118Kb pdf)
    Analysis of Rainfall in the Gammon Ranges of South Australia 1992 – 2002  (1.7Mb pdf SEG)
    The Gammon Ranges Project – Monitoring in a Remote Area D.J. Kemp1, C.J. Wright and S.A. Jewell Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure (pdf,338Kb)

    Books

    C. Warren Bonython. Walking the Flinders Ranges. Adelaide: Royal Geographical Society of South Australia, 2000.

    The story of Warren Bonython’s walk from the Crystal Brook in the south to Mt Hopeless in the north.  xiii, 231 p. [32] p. of plates :bill. (some col.) ; 24 cm. 

    Adrian Heard. A Walking Guide to the Northern Flinders Ranges. State Publishing South Australia, 1990.

    An excellent book, describing 3 circuit walks of around one week’s length in the Gammon Ranges and briefer notes to the Arkaroola Sanctuary area. Recommended if you are planning a long walk in the Gammon Ranges. Probably out of print, price unknown.

    John Chapman  Bushwalking In Australia, 4th edition 2003

    320 pages, A5 in size – full colour throughout, 181 colour photographs, 56 colour topographic maps, 

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

    Paperback, 168 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), maps, 180mm x 120mm x 11mm. The Flinders Ranges and Kangaroo Island are featured in the walks over terrain ranging from coastal scrub to mountains and arid desert. ISBN: 9780855722111

    Barker, Susan and McCaskill, Murray (Eds) Explore The Flinders Ranges RGSSA Adelaide 2005

    A ‘must have’ for all travellers and admirers of the Flinders Ranges.  Recommended by tourist authorities; ideal for tourism studies and school projects.

    Osterstock, Alan Time: in the Flinders Ranges. Austaprint,1970

    56 pages, A5 in size, 8 colour photos. Covers the geology and history of the Flinders Ranges.

    Osterstock, Alan The Flinders in Flower. Austaprint,1975

    53 pages, A5 in size, 25 colour photos. Describes 27 of the most common flowers of the Flinders Ranges.

    Corbett, David A Field Guide to the Flinders Ranges Rigby, 1980

    A field guide to the plants, birds, mammals, insects, reptiles, fishes, frogs, rock types, landforms and a brief history.

    Pedler, Rosemary Plant Identikit: Wildflowers of the Northern Flinders Ranges  Rosemary Pedler1994

    This pocket size booklet describes, with accompanying colour sketches, 70 of the most common plants of the northern Flinders Ranges

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

    This 208 page A5 book describes the history of settlement and exploration, the geology and minerals, fossils, landforms, climate, soils, vegetation, aquatic life,invertebrates, mammals, birds, reptile and amphibians and aboriginal people . It is well illustrated with B&W photos, graphs, tables, maps and has an extensive reference list

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

    168 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), maps ; 18 cm.  ISBN     0855722118 (pbk.) : Includes index.
    Subjects     Hiking – South Australia – Guidebooks.  |  Walking – South Australia – Guidebooks.  |  South Australia – Guidebooks.

    Morrison, RGB  A Field guide to the Tracks and Traces of Australian Mammals Rigby 1981

    This unique 198 page field guide contains a large number of B&W photos of tracks, diggings, droppings & scats and bones and skulls of Australian animals which helps with identification. [ISBN 0 7270 1489 7

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

    This pocket size booklet describes, with accompanying colour sketches, 51 of the most common plants of the Flinders Ranges, including the Gammon Ranges National Park

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

    Plan Safer Bushwalks: Weather Forecasts and Climate Records

    Why check the weather forecast before you go bushwalking? How should you use the weather forecast and climate records to help pack and plan your hike?  How can climate records help you?  How can you check the weather during your walk?

    Trip Planning

    An essential component of trip planning is to check the climate statistics for the region you will be visiting and for the time of the year. This can be a critical component of your planning because there are enormous variations in the weather both within and between States. I usually look at both last years and average statistics for the month I am intending to visit. Finding the nearest weather station often takes a bit of hunting.

    You should check out the climate statistics before you go, so that you take the right clothing, food, water and tent and can allow extra days for extreme weather. The stats will give the likelihood of this happening.

    For those of you planning a trip to the Tasmanian Central Highlands, you will need to expect lots of rain and some snow even in summer. A winter trip will require special expertise and equipment, which will beyond the expertise of most hikers.

    Check the statistics for Scott Peak Dam, just north of Western Arthurs and near Mt Anne . Long term stats show February would be the best time to go if you wanted the least number of rain days. But what clothing should you take?

    Daily records for February show: Max temp 35, minimum temp 3, highest rain 42 mm. Long term averages show: 15 raindays, mean max temp  21, mean min temp 9, mean rain 65 mm

    I’d be taking a full range of gear: sun hat, sunburn cream, long shirt and maybe long lightweight trousers for the hot days then overpants, rain jacket, perhaps down vest, thermals for the cold.

    If you are planning a trip to northern SA (eg the Gammons) in spring check the forecast carefully as the temperature is often in the high twenties or low thirties, when it is high teens in Adelaide. My experience is that it is often 5 -10 degrees warmer than Adelaide but colder at night. 

    Check the climate statistics for Arkarooola the nearest weather station.

    Long term averages show May to August look best from a temperature perspective (19-20 deg C). Mean min temp are 3-7 deg C, (lightweight sleeping bag weather). Days of rain 3, mean rain 6-10 mm (you may even risk just a fly depending on the month)

    Further north in the Gammons, water can also be short supply after six months with little rain. A spring/summer trip is a no, no! Surprisingly, most rain falls in December-March as the tail ends of monsoons sweep down SE from the Kimberley, so May will still have lots of water in rock holes.

    Read more on Trip Planning
    Taking Enough Water
    The weather stats are useful because you can check rainfall for the current and previous few months. You should be able to work out whether rock holes will be full, creeks flowing and surface water available. In Tasmania in summer in certain locations eg Mt Anne, Frenchmans Cap, you can often rely upon deep “yabbie” holes which will usually contain water even when the surface is dry, and can be drained  with a short piece of tubing.
    Expected temperature has a significant bearing on how much water you will need to carry. On a warm day, carrying a full pack I need about 4 L during the day, add to that a dry overnight camp and breakfast and 6 litres becomes the minimum to carry between “wet” campsites. You should hydrate before you leave your source of water each day, to reduce the amount you need to carry. Have a couple of extra cups of tea , even drink your teeth cleaning water if you are short.

    Spare days
    If you are walking in alpine areas, areas subject to flash flooding or in places which are exposed to weather blowing in from the sea, for example the central highlands of Tasmania or the west coast of the South Island in NZ, allowing extra days to sit out a storm or wait for a river to fall ( Franklin or South Coast Track, Tasmania) is essential for safety.

    Risk Avoidance and Response

    Most bushwalks require some risk analysis  during the route planning stage and this should automatically involve a check of the weather and climate statistics for the locality.
    The Adventure Activity Standards (AAS) specifies two units from the Outdoor Recreation Industry Training Package which are helpful
    Bushfire Alert
    Many Parks close and evacuate walkers when there is an imminent threat of bushfire or on days of high bushfire danger. While  most of us try to avoid walking in the middle of summer, those of us who walk in Tasmania by choice, have to expect the occasional park closure. A little commonsense helps too… check for Park closures before going, don’t walk towards smoke and always have an alternative escape route in case you are cut off by a bushfire.
    The Victorian Outdoor Recreation Centre’s Newsletter has some excellent advice. A great resource is their Guidance Note Management of Outdoor Activities for Severe Weather Conditions (November 2009) which is available for download.

    Check for bushfire alerts:

    Try the iPhone apps

    FiresAU . For those of you who live in NSW, Tasmania, SA.

    This app lists bushfire alerts ranking them according to proximity to your location, using the built-in GPS. Bushfires are also shown on a map by red pins and your current location by a blue pin. In the case of an emergency, a “canned message” can be emailed to a contact giving your location.

    Fires Near Me NSW

    This is the official iPhone application of the NSW Rural Fire Service. This application provides information on current incidents across NSW attended by the RFS and other agencies. It also provides information on total fire bans.

    Lightning Warnings

    Thunderstorms can be dangerous if your caught on an exposed ridge or under a tree while its raining. One way to avoid being caught is to try to work out how far the storm is away, using the lightning flash and the time taken for the thunder to be heard.

    One iPhone app that does just this is Thunderstorm-Calculator

    Tides
    Knowing the predicted tides can be invaluable for those bushwalks where you will be walking along the coast. Two walks come to mind: The Great Ocean Walk along the coast near the Otway Ranges in Victoria and the South Coast Track in Tasmania. Both of these walks require decisions to be made about whether it is safe to walk along the shoreline or whether an inland route should be taken. …and these are decisions not to be taken lightly as both coasts are subject to big waves and strong southerly winds.
    There are several iPhone apps which give tide information and in some cases store it on your smartphone so you don’t need internet access to view the data:

    Moonlight
    Well, there have been a few occasions when I would have liked some moonlight to complete a long walk, but most of us like to be in camp by mid-afternoon. If you are an aspiring alpine mountain climber, then moonlight becomes more important, as you often need to make a start in the early hours of the morning to catch the snow while it is hard.
    Check out the iPhone Moonlight app.

    Moonlight features a photorealistic display. The program takes the observer’s  current position and time into account for exact rendering of images. Moonlight not only displays a pretty 3D image but also shows various essential data points: moon phase, distance between earth and moon, julian date or local sideral time.

    Monitoring the weather while you walk.
    There are many ways to monitor the weather while you walk

    1. wristwatch
    2. portable weather station
    3. smartphone app
    4. GPS with inbuilt barometer/altimeter

      1. Wristwatch Weather

      Suunto Observer

      I have only used Suunto watches (Finland), bought from Paddy Pallin, which have been around for many years and are very reliable. Their only problem is that the batteries have a significantly shortened lifetime if the compass, backlight or GPS are used frequently and having them replaced by Suunto is NOT cheap. Be careful if you have it done at your local jeweller, even if they claim to pressure test. Like me, you may regret it when your very expensive watch fills with water, as mine did after a swim in Lake Vera, near Frenchmans Cap, Tasmania after I had the battery replaced by the local Battery Bar

      They make a great everyday watch and a good bushwalking navigation backup. PS The alarm  is very quiet for me. Must be old age!

      2. Portable Weather Station

      Light weight, compact, weather stations which can be carried in your pack have become available recently at a low cost. I can’t vouch for their accuracy, but I would imagine they would be at least as accurate as a wristwatch.Many have an LCD screen so you can watch trends.

      Try Dick Smiths for some ideas. They are much cheaper than a wristwatch “weather station” and there is no need to leave your tent in the morning to check if its raining!

      …. or Kathmandu, for their combined weather station, alarm and clock at sale prices.

      3. Got an iPhone? then try an app

      iBarometer:

      Lets you easily know what is the pressure near you, using the internet. Great for calibrating your altimeter. Contrary to standard applications (with predefined cities), this version of the barometer will give you precisely the pressure of where you are. It integrates its own conversion system.Could be very useful before set out on a walk.

      Pocket-weather-au 

      Pocket Weather AU

      Highly recommended, Australian developers; the one I use!

          Forecast and observation data for hundreds of areas around Australia. Select it via GPS, Map or list.
          – Push current temp, text forecasts and state,regional and local warnings to your iPhone
          – Custom interface for browsing BOM warnings, all nicely formatted for your iPhone
          – Tide graphs for hundreds of locations around Australia
          – National Rain, Satellite and Synoptic Chart
          – Animated weather icons
          – Sunrise/sunset times
          – All of the BOM rain and wind doppler radars with Find/Track me function as well as the ability to have it auto update (see ‘Live Radar’ in settings)
          – National rain and cloud radars and Synoptic chart
          – Extended forecasts for regional areas
          – Give your locations custom names
          – Shake to refresh, simply shake your phone to refresh the data
          – Realtime UV support for some locations
          – Last update is always cached, so you don’t need a network connection to check the weather for the week, once you’ve got it once.
          – Updates are tiny (less than 10kb) so you don’t have to worry about your iPhone data cap.
          – Supports landscape and portrait view, and in landscape you get all the information on a single page. 
          – 7 day forecasts for more than 250 official forecast locations
          – Detailed local observations, typically updated every 10 mins
          – Each forecast location includes up to 6 nearest official observation locations, accessible by side-scrolling action.
          – 50 rain radar locations around Australia
          – The radar view also has a “Locate Me” feature which queries the iPhone’s GPS and then centres the radar map on your current location along with an animated cross hair cursor.
          – Radar data delivery has been carefully optimised to arrive quickly on your iPhone  (Free version available)

       It uses GPS to show your location on the radar inf ull screen landscape view. National cloud and synoptic charts.

      Time and Australian Weather, a match made in heaven. Weather sourced directly from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) displayed elegantly alongside the current time. 
      Calculate wind chill temperature by simply selecting the air temperature and wind speed. The calculated wind chill temperature is displayed “on the fly”. For those who travel by bike, motorcycle, boat, or other means where you find yourself exposed to the elements while in motion, Wooly Wind Chill now has the option to calculate the approximate effective wind chill based your current moving speed (not factoring for actual wind speeds).
         This app brings back the ancient knowledge of former generations:

      Identify conclusively a thundercloud and what kind of weather can be expected in what time frame when you see fleecy clouds.  Find out if  it is going to rain when the spider stops spinning its web and much, much more.  Detailed descriptions of all cloud types and the weather they bring. Complete cloud atlas with all cloud families, species and types according to the  International Cloud Atlas of the WMO (World Meteorological Organization). Large photo gallery with over 70 examples of all cloud types

        4. GPS with Barometer

        Garmin GPS

        Garmin, and no doubt others, have quite a few GPSs which come equipped with a barometer/altimeter eg  the wrist mounted Foretrex 401, the touch screen Oregon 450 -550 series, GPSMAP 62 series, eTrex Summit HC, eTrex Vista

        Get more iPhone  Apps for the Outdoors

        Some Great Uses of the iPhone for Bushwalkers Forums

        Check out some Forums

        Folk Lore

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