Caroona Creek Conservation Park

 

Caroona Creek Conervation Park is about 35 kilometres from Burra in South Australia's mid north.  It is not a very well known Park, so sees few visitors, although it has come to light recently because of the discovery of 3 species of lizard and a rare mouse.  So there.

I won't even attempt to give you directions to either of the two entrances to the Park; you would get a headache trying to follow them.  Stop at the Burra Tourist Centre where maps and detailed directions are available.  Suffice to say there is an eastern entrance and a western entrance.  The eastern one is suitable for all vehicles, caravans etc.  The western entrance is 4WD only, but it's good fun.  Whichever entrance you take, the roads are unsealed and very dusty, except if it's been raining.  Then there are creeks to cross and the roads are very slippery.

The park is interesting as it lies in the area where the rolling hills of the Mount Lofty Ranges disappear and the more rugged Flinders Ranges start.  The western side of the park covers the foothills and a drive through these along the track leading to the western entrance will reveal steep rocky gullies, creeks and low scrub.  The landscape is more harsh the the Mt. Lofty Ranges, and quite different from the more majestic Flinders.  There is a great view from these hills looking east.

The track leading to the western entrance of the park.

The eastern end of the park lies at the bottom of the foothills at the edge of the Olary Plain.  It's flat here and there are areas of Mallee, although not as dense as in other parks like Swan Reach Conservation Park or Gluepot.  The camping area is just a cleared area amongsr a few Mallee trees.  There is an old shed which can be used for shelter if required.  (The area was used by sheep farmers). 

 

Camping area and the old shed.

Not far from the camping area, following the road west, then turning south will lead to a shelter erected for hikers tackling the Heysen Trail.  There is a rain water tank at the side of the shelter, which, surprisingly often has water.  However, water needs to be carried and this supply should be left for the hikers.

A short distance from this shelter is a rather large creek bed.  I have never seen it flowing but it must do at some stage.  By the look of it, a substantial amount of water runs through here, enough to be dangerous if a large amount of rain fell in a short space of time.

There are creek beds all over this part of the country and Burra has a creek with permanent water.  Driving through some areas, patches of green can be seen and the creek beds are easily spotted due to the line of vegetation.  Some creek crossings on the back roads have water over them almost all year round, except in the driest of seasons; like the last few we've had for instance.  This comes as a bit of shock when driving through here as it looks dry indeed.

There is a lot of wildlife to be seen, including kangaroos, emus, snakes, lizards and birds.  Birds are particularly numerous.  If you can find a permanent water hole, this will be an excellent spot to sit and watch for a while, especially at dawn or dusk.

The wildlife makes good subjects for photographers, likewise the rugged hills to the west.  Sunsets can be spectacular as the sun comes up over the plains. 

Towards the northern end of the park there are ruins and the Tourille Gorge.  This gorge is quite spectacular and is probably the highlight of the Park.

There are absolutely no facilities here.  It's bush camping all the way.  Some shelter can be found at the camp ground and the hiking shed thing, but that 's about it.  The nearest town us Burra.  It is very isolated, which is part of it's attraction for me.  It is very, very quiet here and you are unlikely to run into anyone else.

The roads, from just outside of Burra, to the park are all unsealed.  There are in fairly good condition (if using the eastern entrance) but becoming slippery after rain.  There are also a few creek crossings which may become interesting after a good downpour.  When it's dry the roads are very dusty.  It pays to wind the windows up if you can.

Winter, Autumn and Spring are the good months.  There is a bit more water around and the landscape, whilst still harsh, is a little more interesting.  Summer is just too hot and uncomfortable.

This Park and the hilly countryside of the mid north was a bit of an eye opener for me.  It seems to be on the boundary of the southern temperate zone and the semi-arid zone of the north.  As such, the landscape is unique and well worth a look.

This is the shelter used by Heysen Trail hikers.