You’d be forgiven for not knowing that Quorn exists. These days, this small, sleepy town in rural Australia acts as a gateway to the Flinders Ranges, but it was once a bustling place.
Quorn used to be at the cross-roads of two of Australia’s important railway lines and hotels still line the street opposite the old railway station. The town used to be one of the stops on the Old Ghan Line, the main narrow gauge railway line from Port Augusta to Alice Springs, as well as the Trans-Australian Express from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. Everybody travelling north-south or east-west on the railway had to pass through town, Both of these services switched to standard gauge though, completely bypassing Quorn.
Today, a heritage railway, the Pichi Richi Railway, operates between Port Augusta and Quorn, taking tourists through the Pichi Richi Pass.
Quorn is a town in the South Australian bush. It’s not quite Outback yet, but there is no denying that it is a very rural place, with a few residential houses, hotels, a tourist emporium and a pub.
When my overland group and I passed through town on a quick stop to move around a bit and get supplies for the day, somebody jokingly remarked that the place looks eerily like a place out of Australian horror movie Wolf Creek – we later found out that Wolf Creek was actually shot in Quorn.
From Quorn, the Flinders Ranges are easily reached. We made our way north to the Kanyaka Homestead, an old farm dating back to the 1850s and now lying in ruins. Only some of the stone structures are still standing.
Seeing Kanyaka today, sitting on red dust, surrounded by a few gum trees and a small watering hole, as well as a cemetery, it is hard to imagine that this was once a thriving cattle and sheep station and home to 70 families.
Another hour further north, (just south of Hawker), we turned onto a dirt road cul de sac with nothing but a parking lot at the end. From there it takes about an hour to hike out to the Yourambulla Caves. Make sure you wear a hat and that you have water with you!
The access to the caves is via a steep ladder, but the view from the outcrops and platform is amazing. Yourambulla is famous for historic Aboriginal rock paintings, and it’s surprising to see them so easily accessible and unprotected. There’s even a sign that will help you interpret the different drawings. It’s great to see such an important part of Aboriginal life in the Flinders Ranges survive.