R.M.Williams The bigger picture

The bigger picture



Photographer Robert Lang and journalist Gretel Sneath both live in SA, some 1100km apart. Their paths would probably never have crossed if it wasn’t for OUTBACK. The intrepid pair have been on a number of memorable assignments, and their latest journey to the Flinders Ranges saw them embark on an adventurous lap from Port Augusta to Hawker, Rawnsley Park Station, Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, Blinman and Arkaroola, with a hike down Italowie Gorge in the Gammon Ranges, where RM Williams once camped and learned the craft of boot-making. There were some fascinating detours along the way, from the unmissable Mount Chambers (Wadna Yaldha) to Angorichina, Parachilna Gorge, the Prairie Hotel, and several days spent with the down-to-earth Nicholls family at Angepena Station.

The trek across mountain ranges, gorges and vast red plains produced hundreds of images highlighting real characters and the sheer scale of this ancient land.

From the air, the rim of the crater-like basin of Wilpena Pound resembles the scaly tail of a giant crocodile, its rocky ripples baked for centuries beneath wide, uninterrupted skies. On the ground, tiny fossilised marine creatures stranded by the tide 550 million years ago rest beneath rocky ledges. “We call it the timeless land,” says Adnyamathanha guide Sharpy Coulthard, an Arkaroola icon.

Deep inside the hand-dug tunnels of the Blinman Mine, memories of gritty Cornish miners linger like old ghosts, while the exhilarating view from Sillers Lookout – of seabeds squeezed and folded into mountains – puts life into glorious perspective.

Rawnsley Park Station owner, Julie Smith, sums it up well: “It makes you realise you’re only a small part of this big world … just one little bit.”

R.M.WILLIAMS The Bigger Picture

Above: In early morning light, the Chace Range looks like part of a giant crocodile.

Intro: Old ruins glow in the sunset against the backdrop of Wilpena Pound.

R.M.WILLIAMS The Bigger Picture
R.M.WILLIAMS The Bigger Picture
R.M.WILLIAMS The Bigger Picture

1. Soaring high and surrounded by ancient landscapes on the thrilling Arkaroola Ridgetop Tour.

2. Adnyamathanha guide Sharpy Coulthard at Arkaroola.

3. A cool breeze and hard hats greet visitors at the beginning of the Blinman Mine Tour.

4. One of the many local fossils at Arkaroola Village.

5. Co-owner Caroline Scicluna in the front bar of the North Blinman Hotel in the Northern Flinders.

R.M.WILLIAMS The Bigger Picture
R.M.WILLIAMS The Bigger Picture
R.M.WILLIAMS The Bigger Picture
R.M.WILLIAMS The Bigger Picture

1. Angepena Station homestead in the Northern Flinders Ranges.

2. The pegmatite outcrop of Sitting Bull is one of a series of igneous plugs just outside Arkaroola Village. Reliably clear night skies make this incredible location a stargazer’s dream.

3. Bonney sandstone and Rawnsley quartzite on the face of Rawnsley Bluff.

4. After the morning muster, Indi takes a short break on Angepena Station.

5. With over 30 years’ experience, Arkaroola’s second-generation owner Doug Sprigg runs flights from his high-wing Cessna 207.

This story is from OUTBACK Magazine: Apr/May 2021 Issue #136