Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Blinman Cottage in the magnificent Flinders Ranges

As I mentioned in a previous post I popped over to Adelaide to join my friends who were heading to Blinman, an old copper mining town of 17 people (from a peak of around 1,700 in the 1860's!), in the northern Flinders Renges to do a little maintenance to their short stay holiday rental property - a charmingly renovated 1880's miners cottage - Blinman Cottage (see the link here)
3 bedroom Blinman Cottage
Blinman is a 5.5 hour drive north of Adelaide and the Toyota was packed to the gunnels! Every tool imaginable was on board as well as a replacement clothes dryer (this cottage has all the mod cons!) Now this is a town with electricity provided by a generator - it ran out of petrol and we had no electricity for half a day/night until the tanker arrived from Adelaide - or was it Port Augusta - wherever - it could have been a dark cold night by torchlight - except that this cottage also has lovely old gas lamps - which were 'fired up' - great in an emergency! 
The rustic kitchen with an old wood burning stove plus all modern conveniences
And with a gas hotplate, lovely wood oven (the roast was fabulous), a magnificent open fire which burned continuously - it was so cold it felt like the Antarctic up there, where it gets to 50 degrees in the summer -  there was no need to use the microwave and electric kettle! We even had toast and chops prepared over the open fire! What an adventure!
'David-of-all -trades' grilling our chops over the open fire in the parlour!
The bathroom with 'emergency' gaslight above the mirror
Using our mobiles was a challenge. In order to get a signal we needed to drive 2.5 kms out of town, turn left at the dirt track (so well hidden we missed it the first time!), drive to the top of the hill, circle the scraggy tree and wave the phone in the air. If you're lucky you might just 'catch' the Telstra signal from the open-cut mining town of Leigh Creek a mere 2 hours north! My friend calls this wonderful and unreliable location 'the office'! There are landlines available for the locals and for those near the town wanting internet they need to use a satellite phone - but until Australia adds new satellite space (it's apparently full!) it's hardly better than 'the office'. It's a scandal with so many tourists in the area. Thanks Telstra!

The road through to Blinman has only been bitumenised (!?) in the last two years while the unsealed road from Blinman to Parachilna is 30 kms but takes around 90 minutes to travel. And don't cross the creek beds if there has been rain! You could get washed down stream. During the famed wet a few years ago David-of-all-trades even waterskiied behind a float plane on Lake Eyre!

It was just outside Blinman that we visited Mona the camel who featured in my previous post. There's much to do in Blinman - dinner at the pub with the locals, a tour of the old copper mine (it was the biggest in the southern hemisphere in the mid 1800's), a visit to the famed Gourmet Traveller top 100 Prairie Hotel at Parachilna renowned for its innovative dishes with Australian native and 'Flinders Feral Food' twists (try their FMG - feral mixed grill!) and explore the stunning Flinders Ranges including the awe-inspiring Wilpena Pound. 
Shards of the past which I collected on a previous visit and made into a mirror for my friends
I took a tour of the old Blinman Copper Mine - it was fascinating - and was surprised to learn that Alfred Nobel (he of Nobel Peace Prize fame) made explosives! 

Ooo - in I go to the old mine
Alfred Nobel (Peace Prize) made his money from selling explosives!!
The Blinman Hotel holds many memories for me. On my first visit with my parents we had booked to stay at the North Blinman Hotel - we drove straight past not realising that South Blinman no longer exists! Our rooms were rough and ready with kangaroos hopping along the corridor. Things have improved but .... On my second visit with my friends we arrived for dinner to be greeted by a head appearing out of the cellar "Get in there, you're late!" was our welcome. We were served what I would describe as 'smashed merino' as it was full of bones (roadkill??!!) However the cellar produced some amazing wines - all at bargain rates - they were old and the owner was 'getting rid of them'!!! On my next visit a few years later  we asked for a menu "Goat or not" came the reply. Obviously after much thought (!) we chose the goat and I have to say it was pretty good! Things have improved - it's now regular 'pub food'. It's not elegance personified. That's why the Prairie Hotel has a rather large edge over the local but it's not possible to pop over for dinner!!

And after dinner a comfy bed to snuggle into
The country is jaw-droppingly magnificent. I'll leave you with a taste of what's to come
On a clear day you can see forever - on a rainy day the view is 'softened'

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