Friday, June 29, 2012

Harlequin Mistletoe
June 28th

A lovely walk over the hills to see a panoramic view of wonderful hills, rocky outcrops, cassia and even a some of fossil imprints on rocks. We found some Harlequin Mistletoe which give very clear prints on silk fabric..I am looking forward to trying it out on fine wool fabric.

We arrived in Alice Springs about midday. The beginning of the big shop has been done. We will be away from large Supermarkets for about 4 weeks!

We are parked near the home of Gary & Deb Renkin, Darcy and Abby. They are very welcoming hosts.

June 28th

An early walk to the rocky top of a nearby hill which gave us a wonderful view of the nearby areas..all rocky with wonderful colours. I was able to collect the pods and leaves of the grey cassia bushes with the hops they will transfer some colour to my silk pieces.

The morning drive through hills was amazingly beautiful with changing trees, spectacular ranges and rock formations, sand dunes and an inland atmosphere that you can really feel!

Onward north after lunch until we came to Santa Teresa Aboriginal Settlement. This is a very clean little township which is obviously well organised. We were fortunate to be able to visit the Art Centre and Church.

Range Country south of Santa Teresa 

The road out was very dusty so it took some time to find a suitable camp site and then we were thrilled to enjoy and red, red sunset in the west with a lovely pink reflection in the east.

June 27th
Our camp just north of Old Andado was delightful with Coolabah Coolabah Eucalypts all around us. As usual Cynthia and David were up very early to watch the sunrise with their cameras.

We travelled a short distance along the swale and stopped for more photography and some painting on my part.

The next stop, and most interesting for the day was the Mac Clarke Conservation Reserve for the preservation of Acacia Peuce which is a rare acacia and only seen in a few places in Australia. It is better known as a ‘Waddy Tree'. In the past Aboriginal people made waddies from this incredibly hard wood. The waddy is a fighting club. The trees are unusual in shape and it is believed they live hundreds of years. They have very large seed pods.

Also, we were interested in the burrows of the Night Rats. They are all linked by little ‘highway’ like tracks where the rats run around on at night..what fun it would be to see them!

Acacia Peuce Trees

After lunch we continued north along the Binns track and eventually stopped for the evening under some wonderful rocky hills. There are lots of Golden Orb Spiders in the light bush. Mulga Parrots are obvious as they fly in and out of the camp site.

June 26th

What a road of bones this and corrugations. It took an hour to drive the first 40 kms.

We visited Mt Dare Hotel which is a well organised establishment and would be very helpful to travellers. Corellas were in fact there were so many they looked like flowers on the trees!

The Binns track began at Mt Dare and we have followed this through some very pretty  desert country featuring healthy bushes and trees, salt and clay pans and a better road. 

We went close by Andado Station and on through some beautiful red sand dune country which is on the western edge of the Simpson Desert.

John and I had visited old Andado Station 14 years ago and had met the owner Mollie Clarke. She would have been in her late 70s at that point. She now lives in Alice Springs. Her old home is being maintained by volunteers as a heritage feature of the area. It is amazing how Mollie lived alone in such conditions.

Old Andado Homestead
Red Sand Dune of the Simpson Desert
We continued on a short while and made camp among the eucalypts in a swale between 2 dunes. A great spot! There was a flock of about 30 Major Mitchell Cockatoos sleeping in a nearby tree. They gave us an amazing display as the flew along in front of our vehicles.
I am pleased with the latest eco dyeing hanging in a nearby tree to dry.

June 25th

Our coldest morning at minus 1.3 deg.
An early stops to view a stand of Mini Richi /Red Mulga trees with their wonderful curly red bark. Next we came upon a very lean dingo near the roadway.

Dalhousie Ruins and Mound Springs  were next along the road. It was good to see maintenance men working on some of the ruins to make them more stable.

Dalhousie Springs provided a spot for lunch and a long swim in the warm pool which is fed by the Artesian waters. The park area of Dalhousie has been developed considerably since we first visited 15 years ago.

We have a small water leak in Earthy so we have camped earlier than usual. Luckily John was able to find the problem connection and hopefully there will be no more water on the floor. The roads are extremely rough, rocky and corrugated so it is to be expected that we have a few rattle and rubs on the rig.

The Victoria Wattle found in this area is at the early stages of producing its pale cream globular flower heads. There is another wattle as well with much deeper colour in the flowers and it produces a very pungent aroma. Acacias are very hard to identify.

Tonight we are camped in another creek bed and Roast chicken is sizzling in the camp oven.
River bed camp
Camp Oven dinner with some Eco dyeing

June 24th
What a wonderful camp site on the Neales River. Cold frost again!

The Whistling Kites fed their 3 young this morning. We watched as  one parent bird carried a rabbit into the nest. The young are quite large and obviously preparing to fly as they took turns to perch on the edge of the nest to flap and stretch their wings.

We drove in to see the Algebuckina Railway Bridge. A huge construction built during the 1880s. We climbed the steps and walked a short distance along it.

A visit to the Oodnadatta Pink Roadhouse is not to be missed. It is a very well known establishment of the outback.

Wild flowers are beginning to appear…Grevilleas, Sturts Desert Pea, Butterfly bush, Cassias, Wattles and here where we have camped there us an abundance of the spectacular Parrot Pea.

Algebuckina Bridge
We have camped in a creek bed between Hamilton Station and Dalhousie and enjoyed a camp oven stew with dumplings on top. 

June 23rd

By the time I came out of Earthy the table was icy with frost!
Take off time was a little later than usual and our first step was Boorthanna, an old railway siding. It proved to be very interesting with many relics to pickup and examine.
Lunch at Warrina, was brief before we took the turn, on another very rough track, which took us out to Peake Hill where we walked around the Old Telegraph Repeater Station as well as an old Copper Mine and Smelter. John and I have visited this point of interest before but it was good to see how well it is being maintained.
Tonight we have camped at the Algebuckina Waterhole. Across the water we have watched, with great interest, a Whistling Kite’s nest with three large fledglings in it.
Another cold night. 

Peake Hill Telegraph Station

June 22nd
After our night in William Creek we awoke to a very cold wind which stayed with us all day. Our trip out to Lake Eyre North was over a severely corrugated road/track. We spent some time at Haligan Bay and then lunched at ABC Bay. There was no water to be seen in the lake only a vast, wide, white, harsh an rather aloof view of salt.
Eventually we camped north of William Creek in a shallow creek bed on the old Oodnadatta Track. The country side is flat, stony and lightly vegetated. It is wonderful to see the horizon so very close.

Cynthia at Lake Eyre

June 21st
Telstra communication was available from our campsite..presumably from Roxby Downs as we could see the glow of mining lights in the night sky.
When we woke this morning a bank of clouds was coming over our sky. The sunrise colours were absolutely brilliant. The over head clouds turned flamingo pink and gradually as the sun came up the clouds turned to silver and gold. 
Unfortunately the day clouded over and we did have a small amount of rain. The wind turned cold and picked up sand so when we eventually arrived at William Creek we decided to have a Pub meal which was most enjoyable. Cynthia and I both had Wallaby Shank and mash. The guys had a HUGE steak each! William Creek Hotel is well known as an Outback Pub.
The day began with the track following a much newer dog fence. We learned that the fence has been relocated. The Borefield road was much easier to travel on with a wide graded surface. We soon turned onto the Oodnadatta Track which follows the Old Ghan Line. We called in to see several old Sidings which proved interesting to all of us.
The road went close to Lake Eyre North which is 12 metres below sea level. It was a very grey/white scene today.
Mesa Hills were quite dominant in a deep mauve colour..very hard to draw or photograph.

The Strangways Springs Site provided us with an opportunity to walk on trails marked through the network of springs and old buildings remaining from the Railway Siding.

Sunrise colour

Thursday, June 21, 2012

June 20th
An early visit to Witchelena Station Homestead where volunteers, Maureen and Barry showed us through the homestead which is being extensively renovated. The property is owned by the Nature Foundation of South Australia. It has been a beautiful old home on a sheep station which was settled in the mid 1800s.

We travelled westward over a rough track which continued in this state most of the way to the Bore Road. From 2 high hills we had Telstra connection, transmitted from Andamooka, ....this was a bonus for the day.... 

There were many salt pans and some areas were filled with water. We could see Lake Torrens from a couple of vantage points. The colours of the salt lakes were really lovely..soft greens, white, beige, blues and purple/mauves. Samphire growth is always attractive.

To our pleasure our track followed the old vermin fence which was very dilapidated and of no further use as protection from dingoes.

This desolate country is much healthier than the last time we drove through it. The cattle grazing appear fat and sleek.

Old vermin fence across a salina (salt lake) with samphire in the foreground.
Our camping spot for the night was on the side of a sand dune which we hope will provide some shelter from the wind which, of course is drying our clothes!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 19th
Our camp along the Strzelecki track provided us with a beautiful sky of stars.
We awoke this morning to a serenade of dingoes and luckily saw several yellow desert dingoes along the track. Budgerigars, cockatiels and several types of hawks, kangaroos and emus have been seen as we travel. In fact a flock of emus decided to run across in front of us, one of which narrowly missed ‘earthy’ …not another dead emu!
We called at Montecollina Bore and filled our containers with warm sulphur smelling artisan water. The Dog Fence provided a break for us. I had not expected to see it but the familiar ‘hexagon’ shaped netting was familiar and a delight to see again.
The road this morning was, overall, in excellent condition as it services the Moomba Gas Field and the Santos Oil Field…surprisingly there were several stretches of bitumen.
Luckily I posted all my blog notes for the last ten days while parked on the top of a hill near Lyndhurst. We travelled a short distance north to Farina, an old historic settlement from 1879. When we arrived we noticed 2 people walking in the ruins and then we noticed  a silver grey Hilux truck. It was great to see David and Cynthia. We travelled west together onto Witchelina Station and spoke to the present caretakers who advised us on an area to camp. The Station has recently been sold to  a Conservation Group and volunteers are developing it as a nature area.
Roast lamb in the camp oven smells good!

Dog Fence east of Lyndhurst.

P.S. We have found Internet connection on a high spot on the track across from Farina to Stuart Creek Opal Diggings.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June 18th

Another blue sky to begin the day. We went out to Depot Glenn in search of David and Susan and then went cross-country to Cameron Corner. It was a very pretty trip as the trees and animals all look so healthy. It is amazing what rain does for everything. Cassia bushes had finished blooming and Butterfly bushes were about to come into flower. Daisies and Mulla Mulla were brightening the dunes.
We were lucky to see two female pigs cross the road in front of us..with 7 or 8 piglets following close behind.
Flocks of Budgerigars are delightful to see wheeling the skies. I also saw Fire Tail finches, a couple of Wedge Tailed eagles, ducks on one of the many salt pan lakes. Emus and Kangaroos tried to race our vehicles. Toward evening 2 camels swaggered along the track in front of us…luckily only for a few metres as sometimes they trot for kilometres in front of a vehicle.
It seems we had been zigzagging our lost friends for 24 hours so it was a relief to catch up with them at Cameron Corner. Everyone is well and happy. An excellent end to our 11 day excursion.

Re-united at Cameron Corner Shop
John and I continued west till we met the Strzelecki track and camped the night. We have 300 kms to travel tomorrow to meet up with Cynthia & David.

June 17th
After 7 great days at Mutawintji we headed north. Unfortunately and early mishap. An emu came ‘from nowhere’. The resulting death was disappointing and made me feel quite ill. The step of our rig suffered somewhat but has been moved back into position now.
I  love travelling these outback roads, despite the rough and muddy spots. The scenery is varied with undulating sand dunes, flat areas and distant mountain ranges. The Koonenberry Range appeared today..quite a beautiful blue from a distance and grew more brown and shaded as we came closer to it. I had great pleasure in sketching it as it stretched out before us.
We were planning to camp at Depot Glenn but somehow we became parted from Susan and David. Eventually after doing an hours search of nearby roads we headed for Milparinka and camped on the creek amongst the coolabah trees. We missed our 2 friends and especially David’s Cherry Ripes! Hopefully our paths will cross in the morning.

Koonaberry Mountain

June 16th

Rained lightly all night but the morning was fine. We decided to leave Mutawintji  but had to turn back before the Park Entrance because the road was very slippery and muddy. We will stay another 24 hours. Luckily a wind has started to blow so this will hasten the drying of the road.
The trees and grasses have been refreshed with the rain.
Susan, Yvonne and I continued with further drawing and the guys did another long walk.

Off sketching again..Susan, Yvonne & June

June 15th
The day started well as I unwrapped my dyeing parcels. It is always exciting to see the resulting colours.  I had used a lot of red gum leaves, saw dust and bark so it seems appropriate to hang them in a red gum to dry.
We unearthed the paper we had buried..rather disappointing so far. However I worked with both sheets, one of which was torn into 4 pieces so I am pleased that I could use them to some advantage.
The weather has clouded over and we expect rain. Another great day.

Drying dyed silk in Red Gum tree. ..well camouflaged!

June 14

Sunny weather allowed us all to walk up Homestead Creek where we sat for 1 ½ hours sketching and enjoying our lunch time sandwich together. The River red gums are the dominant tree along the creek. Other bushes include Hop bushes, Dead-finish wattle and Mulga. Mistletoe is very obvious on some trees. Both the Harlequin mistletoe and the Maidenii Mistletoe can often be seen on the branches of the same Mulga tree. This does not seem to affect the tree very much. It was interesting to climb up to have a closer view of the Aboriginal art high on a rock wall. On returning further Fabric went into the dye pot. The Harlequin mistletoe has given very good results on silk.
‘Show and Tell’ of our work for the day revealed a strong variety of responses from the same rocks and trees. Susan and Yvonne achieve much more drawing than I do. They are able to do quick sketches and my works are more laboured.
We have had a great day of friendship and art.

Feral goats on Homestead Creek, Mutawintji


June 13th

The warm morning was good for washing pursuits and just sitting around!
Everyone did some walking, but drawing and eco dyeing took precedence. I have used Red Gum leaves and sawdust. Some good colour but I am delaying the rinsing process with the hope of a deeper colour result.
We are seeing quite a lot of birds and animals including kangaroos, goats, emus, corellas, apostle birds and choughs.
The Apostle birds are fascinating to watch. They survive in families of 10 birds. By chance I noticed a large red mud nest on a horizontal branch of a nearby red gum tree. Evidently the whole family take part in the building of this family nest. Two female birds often lay 4 eggs each in the same nest. I have been thrilled to find this nest so close by to our camp.

My dye pot with Reg Gum saw dust and leaves working on my fabric

June 12th

Today provided an outing up to the water holes in the gorge area along Mutawintji  Creek . The huge boulders and water hole provided a great lunch time spot. The dry creek bed with many beautiful River Red Gums is a wonderful site where we girls enjoyed some quick sketching of rocks and flora. There are so many feral goats about that we all dreamed of ‘jambe de chevre roti’! The 6 km walk made us all weary but an evening around the campfire was fun for all…especially as we enjoyed lamb chops and vegies accompanied by tomato sauce from both the Dinning  and the Fleet  kitchens back in Wangaratta.

Looking up Mutawintji Gorge

June 11th

We awoke to a frost the first morning here at Mutawintji. The day was clear and warm so the 3 guys enjoyed the Western Ridge walk returning for a late lunch. The ZigZag team all did drawing and photography in the immediate camping area as well as some fabric dyeing with red gum leaves and bark. I even buried some paper in the red sands of the creek bank.
Emus graze close by as well as an old kangaroo. Corellas came in to rest in the trees nearby.

Western Ridge at Mutawintji

June 10th
 A 9.00am get away from our camp on the Murray river. Heading west in NSW through Buronga to Wentworth. The Silver City Highway is a bitumen road through very flat country. Popiltah Lake provided a very pleasant, but short lunch stop. While there I was able to photograph a pair of very tame Mallee Ring-neck Parrots grazing on some grass seed heads.
 We arrived in Broken Hill mid afternoon. After a short stop over we headed off for Mutawintji National Park. Our arrival was later then we had planned but we settled into a large camp area on the creek and enjoyed a great steak meal cooked by Susan and David. The solar panel hot water system at the camping ground provided us with a warm shower before we went to bed.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

June 9th

Early morning mists

A busy day overcoming a few problems. Eventually we camped west of Euston on a flat clear spot on the River Murray.

I have enjoyed the Mallee Sallee trees along the way…they are such pretty shapes.

The Riverina properties are flat and dry in appearance. Irrigation is a valuable asset. Sheep, cattle and cropping are obvious farming pursuits

June 8th

This morning we woke to a white frost of minus 3.4 deg. So the trip north was very inviting.

We left home on time after enjoying lunch with Anneshka, John A and John Yeo. JY is home on exit weekend so it was our only chance to see him.

 We stopped by at Cathedral College to give Chris a goodbye hug as well.

Yvonne & Clive Voss were ready in Wangaratta..then on to Yarrawonga to meet David and Susan Mathews.

Our camp on this first night was on the Murray between Tocumwal and Echuca. A tiny spot with a water view.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

June 3rd

The NE weather is remaining cold which is very good for our skiing friends as snow should be in evidence for the Ski Opening next weekend

John and I have been very focused on packing the Earth Cruiser. We call it EC22…it is the 22nd Earth Cruiser vehicle to come off the production line in Caboolture. We do have a more affectionate name which is ‘Earthy’. Whatever we call it we are really thrilled to be able to take an inland trip with such comfortable conditions. It is not very big inside but has everything we need. We plan to spend most of our time outside, only resorting to inside protection from severe windy and wet conditions.

Needless to say we are looking forward to ‘take-off’ day or 'leaving home' on June 8th.