Mt Ive Station - Gawler Ranges | South Australia

There is something about the outback and the red dust. In our eyes it is like a red rag to a bull (pardon the pun). The vast remoteness, the ever changing landscape, the flora & fauna, the geological history and the people who call the outback their home fascinates us. Each time we visit an area within this vast land the experiences keeps us wanting to go back for more. 

So with some time on our hands we set out towards the South Australian outback. This time to an area known as the Gawler Ranges. 

The Gawler Ranges Mountains  may not be as majestic or dramatic as the Flinders Ranges ( South Australia), but their geological history is as fascinating. Formed out of a series of volcanic explosions which took place about 1600 million years ago the landscape is littered with granite domes and square tube like pillars of dark red rhyolite which have become known as the organ pipes.

Contrasting this landscape is the stark white salt lakes of Lake Gairdner. The whitest salt lake we have seen to-date. 

The Gawler Ranges area boasts an abundance of wildlife. Red and grey kangaroos, euros, emus and wombats to name some. 

If stargazing is your thing, then there is no better place to be than the outback. You will spend hours on end star gazing or taking pictures of this breathtaking experience. 

There are many places you can stay when in the Gawler Ranges. Accommodation varies from camping all the way to glamping and ultra luxury. A simple Google search will bring up the many options out there. Gawler Ranges National Park offers some great camping spots, including a free camp spot on the edges of Lake Gairdner. In our case we chose to stay at Mt Ive station. Located 500km from Adelaide this is a 900sqKm family run working sheep station which has a wide variety of accomodation options for all overlanders. 

There are a number of ways to reach Mt Ive Station. The most direct (if you are travelling from Adelaide) is through the small outback town of Iron Knob. It is tarmac all the way to this town. Thereafter a 130km of gravel road. The conditions of this road can vary from time to time. During our travels we found it to be in very good condition with a moderate amount of corrugations. Letting down our tyre pressures made the ride very comfortable. 

As you approach the entrance to the station from the east you will be greeted to World War 1 (I think) submarine. One of those outback quirks which jumps at you unexpectedly. 

Within the station there are a number of walking and 4x4 trails to explore. Alternatively if you want to have the bragging rights to having played a game of golf in the middle of the outback there is the 'Dirty Greens".

The station has basic grocery items in stock for sale, a watering hole to down some cold beers (or any other poison of your fancy) and both petrol and diesel is also available. 

If you plan your trip during mustering or sheering time then you may have the opportunity to experience this too. Though there are no organised tours of these activities by the station, all you have to do is ask the very friendly staff or the owners them selves.

If you are a petrol head (aka a speed enthusiast) plan your trip to Mt Ive station during February or March (dates may vary each year). Each year Lake Gairdner turns into a mecca for those looking to set land speed records at the Lake Gairdner Speed Week.  

Lake Gairdner is 4300sqKm in area and it is the fourth largest salt lake in Australia.

Outside of the station property there are many tracks to explore. Just make sure you don't stray on to any private property. These tracks are usually marked "no entry."

Gawler Ranges National Park is about 100km from Mt Ive Station. 

Fires are allowed within the station and also the national park outside the fire ban season. Make note though, no firewood is allowed to be collected within the station nor the park. No firewood is available for sale in the station either. However, you are permitted to collect wood (from fallen trees or branches) outside of these areas. As we drove towards the station there was plenty of wood to be collected on either side of the track.

If you have any questions or require more information write to us on duncan@overlandjournals.com 

Part 1 of our Gawler Ranges travel series. 

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