Station & Family History
Grandfather Steve Reynolds and his younger brother Tom came from their family home of Willow Plain near Hawker in 1924 to inspect the Upalinna block which was one of the many subdivisions of the former Wilpena Station.
On arriving at Prelinna Hut located at the southern tip of Upalinna they were confronted by a shepherd working for Wilpena Station. The shepherd knew that these young Irish lads were going to be a threat to his job and so was at first a little reluctant to allow them in the Hut and to spend the night with him. During the evening Tom Reynolds, who at the time was suffering from a toothache, retrieved a bottle of brandy from one of his saddle packs. By the next morning the Reynolds brothers had a detailed account of what this Upalinna block was capable of carrying and where the watering points were to be found. They then spent the next couple of days riding around on horseback, confirming what the shepherd had told them and they then went and approached the Pastoral Board for a lease.
The lease was granted to them and the Pastoral Board passed comment on how thorough their application had been.
Willow Springs Station, which neighbours Upalinna, was one of the early pastoral leases in the Flinders Ranges and was purchased by the Reynolds family in 1952. Willow Springs which was formerly known as Appealinna was taken up by Joseph Wills in 1856. Willow Springs remains a pastoral lease of 70,000 acres or 28,300 hectares.
The carrying capacity of Willow Springs Station is about 1 sheep to every 16 acres or about 1 sheep to every 40 large suburban house blocks. Land value in this area is about $200 a sheep area or $12 an acre. Rainfall varies throughout the property with the homestead averaging approximately 300mm (12 inches) and Moxan and other areas as low as 175mm.
Present Family History
The pastoral lease of Willow Springs was taken up by grandfather, Steve Reynolds and his 3 sons at the height of the wool boom in the 1950s and for 30 years successfully supported a large family business.
In 1985 Carmel & Brendan joined Brendan's parents in a partnership to obtain Willow Springs and took the first step in diversifying into the tourist industry, by developing the Shearer's Quarters as an alternative accommodation facility in the Flinders Ranges.
With sheep and cattle still a major part of everyday living on Willow Springs, Willow Springs has transformed into a popular tourist destination. In 1995 the 60km Skytrek 4WD tour was constructed. In 2012 the route was changed and now stays exclusively on Willow Springs Station.
Willow Springs Pastoral is today operated by Christopher (Carmel and Brendan's son), who also works (with his partner Bridie) a sheep station 170km North of Willow Springs - they have three daughters. Skytrek Willow Springs Tourism is now operated by Michelle (Carmel and Brendan's youngest daughter), alongside Brendan and Carmel and with partner Khael and their daughter Aubrey. Carmel and Brendan's eldest daughter, Anne-Marie, is married with three children and second married daughter, Naomi, has two children.