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Dedicated to my mother Alison who turned 92 recently, and accompanied us on this family adventure.

I was in Australia in August 2014. Ventured out on two hikes in the first two days I was there. In the Flinders Ranges of South Australia we encountered much natural beauty, but also a mysterious death.

The Flinders Ranges…..greener than I have seen in 50 years due to recent rains (click to enlarge).

The Flinders Ranges…..greener than I have seen in 50 years due to recent rains (click to enlarge).

We stayed at Gum Creek near Blinman, where from our beds we could watch the sun rise, eat breakfast on the deck overlooking the creek, and photograph the sunset colors on the nearby hills. We saw emus and kangaroos down toward the creek. To cap it off, we could slide the ceiling back and stare at the stars while lying in bed. All this was heaven enough, but there was more.

Gray kangaroos with great red kangaroo in the distance (click to enlarge).

Gray kangaroos with great red kangaroo in the distance (click to enlarge).

The normally dry Flinders were as green as I had ever seen them, and the kangaroos were plentiful….we must have seen 200 or more during the trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the four-wheel-drive track to Mount Patawarta (click to enlarge).

On the four-wheel-drive track to Mount Patawarta (click to enlarge).

 

Brother Clive in the notch (click to enlarge).

Brother Clive in the notch (click to enlarge).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View from the top (click to enlarge).

View from the top (click to enlarge).

Brother Neil at the top checking emails (click to enlarge).

Brother Neil at the top checking emails (click to enlarge).

 

 

 

 

 

Mount Patawarta rises up like an Egyptian pyramid, and is quite a challenge to climb. We crawled up through a dramatic notch just before the top, where we rested for lunch.

 

 

 

 

On the second hike, in wild country, we came across a dead emu, and a nest containing seven eggs. Never seen such a thing before. The emu bones had been picked clean. Why would an emu, healthy enough to lay a batch of eggs, suddenly perish? No mountain lions in Aussie. We had no answer.

Later in the day, while returning to the car, we heard a dog barking. Except the barking ended with yips…..barks then yips….. over and over for ten minutes. It was a haunting sound originating not far from us, in isolated country with no human habitation anywhere near. It gave me the heebie-jeebies. We looked at each other. What would a dog be doing out here?

Matthew and Clive and emu nest (click to enlarge).

Matthew and Clive and emu nest (click to enlarge).

Could it be a dingo? Now there is a dingo fence stretching across the inland to keep the sheep-killing dingos out of South Australia. Been there for decades. Since this hike we have heard the fence has broken down in places. Further, the dingo may not be a true dingo, as there are now many dingo-dog half-breeds. It didn’t take long for us to realize the dingo probably killed the emu. It wouldn’t be hard for a dingo to pounce on the long thin neck of an emu sitting and warming her eggs. How sad! Nature can be beautiful and brutal.

Australian native dog….the dingo (click to enlarge).

Australian native dog….the dingo (click to enlarge).

Note: a dingo came into a tent near Alice Springs in 1980 and stole a baby. The mother was later charged and jailed for killing her baby, but eventually freed when the baby’s torn clothes were found. A film called Cry in the Dark with Meryl Streep was made of this story.

 

Three days at Gum Creek were like three days in heaven……a definite high for all of our family. But eventually we had to return to the daily challenges of life. God’s face was clear in the natural majesty of the Flinders Ranges, but sometimes it is not so clear when we come down from the mountains. But an alive faith helps to close the gap, as we recognize that God can help in the hardships and turmoil and difficult decisions.

The mountaintops of the Flinders Ranges, seen from the west as we drove home (click to enlarge).

The mountaintops of the Flinders Ranges, seen from the west as we drove home (click to enlarge).

When down in the valleys of life, it is good to keep an eye out to help someone to hope. In the glorious painting by Raphael (see last image), the apostles tried to heal the boy without success. But at least they tried, which can bring hope. Or maybe it can bring Jesus to provide full restoration.

The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers……

Jesus with three apostles on the Mount of Tansfiguration, followed by problems with a boy in the valley below: by Raphael (click to source or to enlarge).

Jesus with three apostles on the Mount of Tansfiguration, followed by problems with a boy in the valley below: by Raphael (click to source or to enlarge).

 

 

 

 

 

When they had come down from the mountain, a man from the crowd shouted ‘Master I implore you to look at my son, for he is my only child, and a spirit seizes him and convulses him so that he foams at the mouth. I implored your disciples to drive it out, but they could not’. Jesus answered ‘Oh unbelieving generation! Bring your son here to me’. Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the child, and restored him to his father. (Luke chapter 9).

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12 Responses to Hiking Toward Heaven….. in Australia

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  2. Kevin Kilstrom |

    Another nice trip it would seem – I’ll keep my eyes open for more stories on your most recent trip down under. How funny that something (your dingo or part dingo) would wipe out the meat, but pass on the eggs? Or even that there’s nothing else around that has a taste for eggs.
    All the best from KK

    • Kevin, I think the eggs stayed intact because the shells are very tough. You can purchase beautifully-carved emu eggs made by indigenous Australians. We actually brought a couple of the eggs back with us, but are uncertain how to remove the contents.

  3. Egad! I thought it was winter down under and it looks mighty warm to me! Does Australia even have snow in the mountains anywhere in the country? I’ve never seen a picture of such! It must be closer to the equator than I thought it was!

    I love the picture of your brother on top of the mountain out in the middle of nowhere on his cell phone! Ain’t that as it is today!! Can’t put down our phones. I can’t believe it works out there or is it a satellite phone? Thanks for sharing! To God be the glory!

    • Hi Donna, Australia is a warm country, and does not get the snow and cold that northern USA does. Climate is Mediterranean, a bit like northern California. It’s also a flat country: highest mountain is only 7,000 ft while I am looking out my window here in ABQ at Sandia Peak which is 11,000 ft. The days we spent in the Flinders Ranges were in fact unusually warm (as well as green).

  4. Bev Saegenschnitter |

    Back on your old home ground! I haven’t been there since the early 80s but heading to Melrose to climb Mt Remarkable in 2 weekends time – looking forward to seeing such beautiful country again.

    • Hi Bev. Mt Remarkable is good, but to me the northern Flinders, where lies Gum Creek and Mt Patawarta, are outstanding. I actually camped up there 35 times before I took off for the USA. I introduced a teacher-friend from Blackwood High (Ken Mableson) to the area, and he has camped up there 75 times!

  5. Donna, we happened to get some mobile phone reception on the top of the mountain. I have a very good friend, Trevor, in Adelaide and we often call each other when we visit places of natural beauty while the other is at work. We always quote a line from a famous Australian poem by Banjo Paterson that contrasts the life of a drover (cowboy) with the city worker: “I am sitting in my dingy little office where a stingy ray of sunlight struggles feebly down….” I was doing this when Ian took the picture! The place was truly inspiring and I echo your comment “to God be the glory”

  6. Ian this was an interesting blog and I loved every word of it. It brought
    back all the great memories of experiences in Australia.
    The blog has so many ideas of how wonderful God really is. Thanks for writing so many great blogs.

  7. Sheila Thompson |

    What a wonderful blog. The beautiful pictures along with your colorful narrative made me feel like I was experiencing some of it too. I loved it. Wonderful to see family enjoying life together. God truly is amazing in His creation and all that He does. God bless you Ian!

    • Thanks for your comment Sheila. Back here in ABQ in the heat, it all seems like a dream. It was the best family time we had in years!

    • Thanks for your comment Kim. We have wonderful memories of the family gathering in the mountains. Sandia Peak is still here, waiting to be climbed!

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