Michael Giacometti recaps a walk south of town on 26 April 2015
Walk: Mt Ooraminna & The Pinch
Length: around 11 Km
Time: about 5 hours elapsed
Grade: Easy-Medium off-track. Short and steep ridge climb and descent on loose rocks followed by flat creek bed, 4WD track and plains walking.
Eight walkers joined Diane Alford (leader) for a short and interesting walk with geologic and historic significance on Deep Well Station about one hour drive south of Alice. Permission for the walk was obtained in advance from the Hayes family who hold the pastoral lease. Diane led a walk here last year, but it was marred by bitterly cold and rainy weather. This time we were bathed in bright sunshine.
The cars were left in a natural corral (GR 981344) at the end of the Ooraminna Range, about 2.5 kilometres after turning east off the South Road. (The turnoff is about 100 metres before the Off Road Centre.)
We headed off north of east across the corral and climbed a gutter to the red sandstone ridge, then continued on the bearing across the scrubby tops to descend steeply on loose rocks to a creek. This creek we followed as it meandered north of east. In doing so, we missed out on climbing Mt Ooraminna a little way off to the north. After following the creek for about 3 kilometres we took a brief diversion north-west to a holey-rocky pinnacle. Back along the creek for another kilometre and we came to the remarkable Hells Gate (GR 012356), a vertical rocky wall like the rampart of a castle, breached only by the creek. We stopped here for an hour and explored the castle walls from many vantage points.
From Hells Gate we followed the original road (in reverse) that led to the Arltunga Goldfields in the early 1900s. Imagine pushing a wheelbarrow with all your possessions and food and water through this dry and rocky terrain. And imagine how rich a load you’ll strike! About one kilometre south and we hit The Pinch (GR 012347), a man-made ramp-like cutting in the sandstone. It must have been hell for the miners and the bullocks getting up this bastard ramp.
Another kilometre on a sandy track took us past Pinch Bore, then after another 500 metres we left the track to skirt the base of the range, heading west. We crossed several clay gutters and small sandridges, and as the day grew hotter and with no shade, we all wondered how far it was to the end of the range. Finally, after about 5 kilometres, we rounded the end of the steep-sided range and climbed over an obvious saddle to the cars.
A few of the group scrambled up the sandstone outcrop southwest of the saddle to an overhang with a few petroglyphs (Aboriginal rock engravings).
Overall, an interesting and non-challenging day walk in a region that the club used to walk many years ago, but has not done much recently.