Aboirignal Tours of the Flinders Rangers and South Australia departing Adelaide
“My grandfather taught himself to read and write by taking the labels from jam tins,” says Haydyn Bromley of the Adnyamathanha clan. “It was right that I took the name for my tour company from his traditional name, Bookabee. He left a tremendous legacy for my family.”
Folding into the leather seats of our 4WD, the road trip from Adelaide to the Northern Flinders Ranges begins in earnest. Haydyn’s transition to the role of exclusive tour guide, having originally been a teacher, has been an effortless one. He speaks authoritatively about the country through which we pass, sharing stories both current and traditional.
“Two ancestral lawmen, Aradu and Muffri, came from the sky,” begins Haydyn. For two days he’ll be teaching us the stories of his land and people, a culture that has inhabited this region for more than 45,000 years. “They gave us kinship law, skin law and many other important truths,” he continues, idly spinning the wheel to miss an errant emu running ahead of the vehicle. “This is the point where they went back to the sky.” He indicates a rock formation on the left-hand side of the road somewhere near Quorn at the southern end of the Central Flinders Ranges.
The further north we drive, the more the Creation stories expand. We hear of the Kingfisher Man who came down from the north to Wilpena Pound. Of Akurra, the Rainbow Serpent, who followed. And of how their movements and interactions through the countryside resulted in the crevasses and cutaways in and around the hills. We come to know how the birds and animals in the stories relate to the Aboriginals living in the region.
“The yellow-footed rock wallaby is my totem given to me by my grandfather,” says Haydyn. Almost on cue a female wallaby darts down the rocky cliff face of Brachina Gorge, followed by a group of amorous males eager to get courting underway. “There are storylines through this whole region,” Haydyn says. “The Flinders is the best country in the world. But I am biased, I know.”
Our evening is spent at Iga Warta with the Coulthards, members of Haydyn’s vast extended family. Sitting on the deck adjacent to the shop and restaurant we’re charmed by the connection between family members who realise that their independent Aboriginal businesses rely on each other to succeed.
Sunrise finds us on high ground overlooking Lake Fromme. The rocky terrain takes on a surreal beauty as the sun’s awakening rays skip across the land. “My people camped here because there is a spring and lots of bush tucker,” says Haydyn. To prove the point he shows us the abundance of bushes bearing native gooseberries, bush bananas (Mayaka), quandongs and native oranges (Iga Warta), all within a few feet of where we’re standing. “No-one went hungry living in this land.”
Haydyn’s ancestors have left many reminders of their lengthy occupation of the region, and by far the most impressive is Red Gorge. Once a corridor through which the Adnyamathanha people travelled, the gorge is well named for its bright red colour. “It seems everyone who came through here left a message,” says Haydyn. And he’s right. On almost every available rocky surface there are pecked petroglyphs of owls, kangaroos, wallabies, emus and people.
“Some visitors are interested in our Creation stories,” says Haydyn. “Others in the rock art. I cater my discussion and tour around what interests my guests.” Mind you, there’s a lot to be said for the air-conditioned comfort of a luxury 4WD on those days when the temperature gauge climbs over 40ºC.
Bookabee Tours Australia
Offers a number of chartered 4WD self-designed tours to the Flinders, from 2-day to 4-day expeditions. Prices start at $875 per person and include: hotel pick-up and drop-off within Adelaide metropolitan area, 4WD transportation, tours to significant sites, lodgings, all main meals, morning tea and all entry fees.
Phone (+61) 8 8235 9954
“Astounding. Every horizon had a new story.” – Rochelle Brown, South Australia “Excellent guide, knowledgeable, accommodating and very professional.” – Tony Bonanno, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
“This is a place we would come and camp with my grandfather. He would catch kangaroos for us and teach us the stories of our country. Now I want to share the experience.” – Haydyn Bromley, tour guide