Wilpina Pound is a quirk of South Australia’s landscape and not, as one might have otherwise suspected, a minor character from a Dickens novel. It looks like the crater of an extinct volcano, or the site of an ancient asteroid impact, but in fact it’s just a flexing of the geology that puckered into a natural bowl. Vast plates of sedimentary rock have heaved themselves out of the plain in a rough circle, and it was up the side of one of these plates that I clambered today.
While the lower portions of the trail are gentle paths winding through natural meadows, the higher portions develop a challenging verticality. But the summit, marked by a formal cairn of loose stone erected in 1858 and somehow still unmolested by bogans, offers views over a staggering distance.
Perhaps to engender a sense of solidarity with each other in our aching quads and dehydration, climbers have set up other informal little cairns of stones at random points. It seems obvious, on passing an impromptu drystone wall rising up from a ledge of living rock, to add another rock to the pile as one passes by. Instead of graffiti, we commemorate our passing by stacking the innumerable stones into whimsical little towers. I can’t help but wonder how awesome the mountains will look in a thousand years, when centuries of climbers have arranged every stray rock into avenues of stone stacks.