Monday, August 15, 2011

Home to Milawa

Monday August 15th

Unexpectedly we decided to head for Milawa..the sky had clouded overnight and our tent was dry!! A night out in the wet was not appealing. Rain first hit our windscreen at Swanhill and increased the further we travelled east.
The NSW country around Balranald reminded us of the Nullarbor Plains..salt bush and very little on the horizon! Civilization was upon us as we travelled the Murray Valley Highway. We have had a memorable 6 weeks exploring the Australian Outback. It was great having Eileen and Geoff with us making our days more fun!!

Our home lights were on as we arrived at 'Kyamba', smoke coming from our chimney and John A in the kitchen preparing dinner for us. Thankyou John for this gesture. We are pleased to be home but we are also certain that the 'Outback' will call us again!! We love it out there..the remote locations, the quiet and stars at night and the sense of discovery of so many interesting things.

 Safari 2011 is over and so is my first foray into writing a blog! Hope my friends and family have enjoyed it as I have.

Travelling companions at Ian's Hotel

To Mungo—unexpectedly!

Sunday August 14th

Echidna on roadside

Our day began with thick fog which did not clear until 10 am. We travelled through Station properties all day..into NSW from South Australia...across the Silver City Highway and through more Station properties.  Public roads go through the outback properties and it is legal to drive on them. Often there are many gates to open and job! We crossed the Darling River at Pooncarie and unfortunately were unable to buy fuel in this small village. Eventually we have set up camp at Lake Mungo in a great spot under clear skies. The highlights today were not the flowers but the fauna we saw..wild goats, kangaroos, emus, a brown snake, a shingle back lizard and an echidna.

Port Augusta – Quandong Road

Saturday August 13th
Travelled from Port Augusta through the southern Flinders Ranges. Country through Peterborough, Orroroo and Yunta was hilly/saltbush country-- real DOT country as hills were dotted with low growing plants of various greens.
We headed south from Yunta, leaving the Barrier Highway onto a gravel road. The rain and wet conditions made me feel apprehensive. However the road proved to be well maintained and easy to travel on. As we travelled through Quandong Station the country changed from hilly to flat to slightly undulating with very colourful wattles and cassias in bloom combined with the never ending grey of the saltbush. Unfortunately a ROAD CLOSED sign was in place when we came to turn south to the Danggali Conservation Park.

Entry to our campsite!

We continued on toward NSW along the same gravel road and eventually camped near the road among cassias. wattles and small oak trees. Thankfully the dark clouds have cleared!! Today kangaroos, goats and emus crossed our path and even on father emu with 8 or 9 'fast running' chicks about 30 cm in size.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Gilles Lake and Port Augusta

Friday August 12th.

This morning was one of our coldest with ice on our tent..We travelled north and east through the most magnificant cropping area. .undulating hills stretched across the patchwork of green, canola yellow and fallow brown.
We entered the Lake Gilles Conservation Park from the west. What a pretty  area with Mallee eucalypts and Myall acacias..some of which are very old. The Salina or lake has water in it at present and gave the most beautiful reflections. We stayed a couple of hours enjoying the view, walking and eating our sandwiches.

Lake Gilles
 This evening we are in Port Augusta with a very dirty rig. Eileen & Geoff will leave early to-morrow to make a fast return to Wangaratta. John & I plan to take several days to return to Milawa.

My Journal is nearly full with drawings, paintings and stitching. I was pleased to have time to paint a quick image of Lake Gilles today.

Ceduna to Pinkawillinie Conservation Park

Thursday August 11th

Fog around our tents this morning after rain in the night. However the day has fined with only intermittent showers.

We spent several hours in Ceduna shopping and visiting the Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre. There were a large number of artworks on display and for sale and everything was well organised. We had the pleasure of meeting a young artist. His name is Beaver Lennon who could definitely be classed as 'an emerging artist'. It appears that he has a great artistic career ahead of him. He is quietly spoken and already mentoring other youngsters in the town. His work will be shown next year in Adelaide in a Solo Exhibition.We wish him well and look forward to following his artistry.

Another wattle!!

Tonight is our last camp together as a foursome and we are camped in the Pinkawillinie Conservation Park south of the Gawler Ranges yet another gravel pit.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Eucla - Nullarbor

Eileen & June at Old Telegraph Station

Tuesday August 9th

First Activity this morning was a visit to the Old Telegraph Station at Eucla where sand has partly covered the limestone building.

Instead of travelling on the main bitumen road we took the Old Eyre Highway which is further north. We did not see any other vehicles on this gravel track/road. My mother nad father went to Perth about 1960 and this is the road they would have travelled on. The Nullarbor Plains at this point is flat and treeless with only saltbush and a few low shrubs none od which were in bloom.

Tonight we are camped in a camping area at the back of the Hotel/Motel at Nullarbor..the only attribute of this settlement is the fact that I have Ineternet/phone connection. It is EXTREMELY WINDY.

We are heading East now but with quite a few diversions.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Monday August 8th
South of Eucla near Great Australian Bight
We have camped early today about 2 km from  the beach on the Great Australian Bight. This morning we have continued to travel along the coast through saltbush and samphire as well as some mallee type eucalypts. The weathe ris calm and warm.

South of Mundrabilla

Sunday August 7th

Most of the morning was spent driving over the Roe Plains after we had inspected the ruins of 'Burnabbie' homestead. The eucalypt trees were really very pretty. Both kangaroos and emus quickly fled from our path.

Coastal Hakea

We lunched at Madura on the Eyre Highway. After which we followed the bitumen for 115km and turned south at Mundrabilla. This new southerly track led us down to the sea where a few fishermen live/camp at LowPoint. We continued on this track until we found a delightful place on the sand to spend the night. The waves can be heard as we enjoyed a large camp fire.

Burnabbie Ruins

Saturday August 6th

After some navigating confusion we eventually camped near the Eyre Bird Sanctuary but outside the Nature Reserve amongst a thick forest of Melaleuca and Eucalypt. It is a calm night but quite cool. We enjoyed a delicious meal of roast chicken cooked by Geoff.

Bush around our campsite

Twilight Cove

Friday August 5th

Storm over Twilight Cove
Most of the morning was spent driving the 30 km into Twilight Cove along a narrow track..very stoney at times and quite good at others. We spent the afternoon walking on the white sands of the beach. Stormy skies and rainbows added to the beauty of the Cove which is enclosed by the Baxter Cliffs. Late in the afternoon a pod of whales was discovered. There were 4 cows and 4 calves quite close to the beach. We spent ages watching them floating amongst the times showing their fins and noses. What a privilege to be so close to these wonderful creatures in the wild. They were only metres from the sand and gave us a great view of their afternoon activity.

Rawlinna to Cocklebiddy

Thursday August 4th

We left this morning in much colder conditions. The winds of the Nularbor have blown all day. The Carlisle Road route through 2 station properties was slow over limestone rocks and general rough conditions.

Entering Carlisle Road at Rawlinna
The Nularbor Plains looked fresh and green after over 600mls of rain during the early part of this year. There were  also a few flowers blooming amongst the low salt bush and crop of grasses. The name NULARBOR actually means NO TREES (in Latin.) There are some trees but very few. It is one of the best known Australian Icons which everyone should experience. Generally the plains are dry and very arid but we have been fortunate to see them green.

During the last few days we have seen more kangaroos and today was no exception with several groups endeavoring to race the vehicles. Camels have been dominant but we saw only one on the horizon today.

This evening, because of the chill wind, we are in overnight accommodation at Cocklebiddy.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The end of Connie Sue--Rawlinna

Wednesday August 3rd

It took us 2 hours to come out of the Plumridge Lakes Nature Reserve and back onto the Connie Sue Highway. Again the flowers and trees were in bloom with many flowers of the Sturt's Desert Pea flowing onto the track. We have now travelled the full length of the Connie Sue Highway..approx, 650 km. We did not see another person on the track so we have been 5 day without talking to other travellers. The southern end of the Connie Sue has been rather rough with large limestone rocks to avoid.

Southern end of Connie Sue Highway
Tonight we are at Rawlinna which is on the Trans-continental railway line...we hope to see a train!! It is cold and windy so we have been able to camp at the Nullabor Muster grounds with both rigs in a huge shed..

Plumridge Lakes Nature Reserve

Tuesday August 2nd

This has been a relaxing day spent in a very attractive location...washing, walking, stitching, reading, drawing and resting.. We were actually camped in an area that had previously been used for harvesting Sandalwood. There were piles of Sandalwood chips which we burned on our fire. The aroma of sandalwood has been very dominant and

One visitor.. a large camel who took fright into the bush..probably never seen humans before.

A simple meal this evening ...spaghetti with the Ardmona Neapolitan sauce that Joan kindly gave me as we set off.

Camp area in Plumridge Lakes Nature Reserve


Neale Junction to Plumridge Lakes

 Monday August 1st

Eucalyptus Youngiana buds and blooms

I cannot adequately express the continuing beauty of the desert garden. The Great Victoria Desert is in full bloom as we have never seen it before. The brilliant yellow of cassia has been with us all day along with many of the other flowers we have already flowers for today include the dark red hop bush and carpets of white daisies and mulla mulla with pale grey green salt bush. The most spectacular tree we saw is my very favourite, Eucalyptus Youngiana with its large buds and blooms.

We have made a diversion into the Plumridge Lakes Nature Reserve to camp for 2 nights amongst the bush, red sand and clear skies

To Neale Junction on Connie Sue Highway

Sunday July 31st

Hakea Francisiana

Connie Sue's garden is surely my favourite. Another wonderful day of flowers. I can't help saying again that the colours against the red sand dunes have been remarkable...mauve of the Desert Rose, orange/yellow of the Desert Grevillea, pink & white of the Daisies, blue of the Pin Cushions, yellow of the Wattle, Cassias and Everlastings; pink, white and yellow of the thryptamene and red of the Up-side-down plant..and yes, a new hakea today..growing in profusion. The Hakea Francisiana with its long pink/red tracts of flowers was quite a spectacle.

 The corrugated road is still with us but with excellent drivers we were able to travel a little more quickly and we came 175km today. We are camped near Neale Junction tonight..the junction of the Connie Sue Highway and the Anne Beadell Highway.

Warburton along the Connie Sue Highway

Saturday July 30th

Kings Mill Mallee
What an exciting morning! The flowers in today's desert garden have been spectacular. Firstly a wonderful display of Sturt's Desert Pea along with large areas of Rosie Dock. The colours were amazing against the wonderful red of the sand dunes. The new eucalypt that John has identified is 'Kings Mill Mallee. It was a very prominent roadside tree in full bloom. (Susan you would love it..The flower buds and nuts are like Youngiana but smaller and slightly bigger than Pachyphylla..common name Red Bud Mallee ) Honey grevillea came in great swathes for us to drive through. The thryptamene was magnificent even a few bushes of yellow blooms which are unusual in the desert. We stopped a couple of times and walked amongst it. All of us found it difficult to continue our journey. It was all so beautiful

It has been a thoroughly delightful day and we are now camped, under a clear sky, near Hann's Tabletop Hill.