Thursday, September 12, 2013

September 12th,
Kow Swamp

A beautiful blue sky dawned over the Terrick Terrick National Park. We left this very pretty park before 9.00 am in preparation for the final day of Safari 2013.

We travelled north to check out Kow Swamp which is now a lake/water storage for the area. The lunettes or dunes on the edge of the swamp have been the site for some significant archaeological discoveries of very early aborigines.  Between 1968 and 1972 nearly 40 individual skeletons were uncovered around the edge of Kow Swamp. Radiocarbon dates from bone and charcoal associated with the burials, show that the burials span a period from about 13000 to 9500 BP. There was nothing available for visitors to actually see but it certainly appears to be a very valuable historical site.

Onward via Echuca then through dairy farm lands to Shepparton. through Pine Lodge, Dookie and the Warby  Ranges .to Milawa. I really enjoyed the drive along the roads of Pine Lodge as I spent my first year of teaching, 1959, at the Pine Lodge school. The school is no longer standing but there is a Commemorative Stone which marks the site of the 'Pine Lodge School No 2099' which operated from 1878 until 1995.

Watch this space for my final entry which will be a map of the route we took over the last eight weeks.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11th

Heading east..ever east and homeward bound. After leaving the Big Desert Wilderness Park this morning our first stop was at Ouyen to enjoy a morning break of Coffee and 'Vanilla Slice'. The slices are large so we shared one between us. We don't really need a vanilla slice but because Ouyen is renowned for them we thought  we would indulge. Actually they are not the current champions of the Vanilla Slice competition but it tasted very a small amount.

We have travelled roads, today, that we have not travelled before, some of which were very rough bitumen. New farm lands are always interesting though.

Tonight we are camped in a very attractive spot amongst White Cypress Pines in the Terrick Terrick National Park which is four km north of Mitiamo and 60 km north of Bendigo. The mild weather has allowed us to go for a very pleasant walk. The birds are very chirpy as they settle for the night. We also sighted two black wallabies.

On top of Mt Terrick Terrick

September 10th

Our first challenge this morning was to cross the Murray River on the Swan Reach Ferry. From there we travelled gravel roads down to Lameroo on the Mallee Highway. We saw only one car the whole way which made it an easy drive through farmlands. Cropping and sheep seem to look very happy. The Mallee country around Pinaroo is always pretty to drive through. Some areas have had more rain than others. Both Lameroo and Pinaroo are small, very well cared for towns.

We crossed the border into Victoria, a little south of the Highway, then turned south toward the Big Desert
Wilderness Park. There were a surprising number of dunes, with deep sand, to cross. We found one track that was very muddy in one spot and generally very narrow. We turned back because 'narrow' does not suit EC. We then followed another track which was much easier to drive on. We have ended up camping in a lovely camping area called 'Red Gums'. It is a slight depression surrounded by Red Gum trees. There may even have been a lake here many years ago. This is the fourth camp site in a row where we have been amongst Red Gums.
The Big Desert Wilderness Area is immediately inside the Victorian border. It consists of many low sand dunes. The bush is thick with a variety of bushes and trees- several types of eucalypts, wattles, heaths, casuarinas and melaleucas.

Red Gum camp site

Monday, September 9, 2013

September 9th

We had a very hot night for sleeping with a warm morning to follow. As we progressed south it became a little cooler especially at Clare where it is higher. However we are on the Murray River this evening and it is very warm again and extremely windy. It was a long day of driving..over 300 kilometers. The country has been interesting with crops looking lush and some starting to ripen.

The main industry around Clare is vines and wine with a few olive trees. The old buildings through the area have been constructed from stone of a lovely orange/beige colour. Many have been left to tumble down but a few have been cared for with repairs keeping them usable. German people settled this part of Australia in very early times.  Churches are  obvious in the communities..probably for Lutheran communities..

As we left the Mt Remarkable N.P I photographed a huge River Red Gum and here we are this evening looking across at the waters of the River Murray through River Red Gums!

River Red Gum at Mt Remarkable NP

River Red Gums on banks of the Murray River

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September 8th

A very warm day in the Mt Remarkable National Park. I am pleased we had a good walk this morning with a cooling breeze. The track led us along Mambray Creek with good interpretive signs about the aborigines and the beautiful River Red Gums. Some are very old trees..maybe 600 or 800 years old. Their trunks are huge..up to four metres in diameter.
I think we must be early for wild flowers in the park. I did not see any orchids and only a few Chocolate Flowers and Blue Bells.
There are kangaroos and emus grazing in the park. They seem happy with us nearby. An emu came close to our rig and found a large goanna near by..he was not happy to have Mr Emu investigating him and climbed a nearby tree. He was about a meter in length  with beautiful markings. A common bird in the park is the Adelaide Rosella Parrot which we have not seen before.

Walking path in Mt Remarkable NP

September 7th,

A rather uneventful day as we travelled east and south to Port Augusta., The country in this area always lacks significant growth and can be very grey in colour. This year because of winter rains the scene is quite green.
The main interest for the day has been the train line. We camped about 30 metres from the line last night at Kingoonya. Three trains went through in the dark hours..we certainly heard them and saw the their lights.

After completing Googs Track we first crossed the line at Malbooma. We were close to the line all the way down the Stuart Highway until this evening.. about 28 hours. In that time we saw 19 freight trains. Some have had two engines at the front, some have an engine at the front and another at the rear and we even saw one with three engines. The trains can be up to two kilometres in length. Some are servicing mines around Coober Pedy transporting ore south to be processed.
The line runs to Perth, Western Australia and to Darwin in the Northern Territory with the junction at Tarcoola. The Ghan Train and the Trans Continental Train travel twice a week but we did not see them. Often the train drivers gave us a cheery 'toot' of their whistle as we watched them go by.

Arrival into the Mt Remarkable National Park caused us both to think of the 'Parklands'; property where I grew up at Greta, Victoria. The RiverRed Gums....eucalyptus camaldulensis  are huge and old with colouful trunks. We look forward to exploring it more tomorrow.

Friday, September 6, 2013

September 6th

The camping spot at the foot of Mt Finke proved to be very suitable for John to rise early and climb to the top of this very rocky mountain..He was delighted to find Youngiana trees growing all the way to the top. It is a very rocky terrain but there are still many plants and bushes in bloom. It took him a little over an hour to go up and return in time for breakfast. Before we left I walked a short distance along the track and enjoyed the flowers and view of a salt lake in the distance. We actually drove around this lake which was quite large.

The track, this morning, seemed to be more overgrown and hard to drive along. Our rig is wide so we notice the narrow way. Corrugations impeded our way as well.  We have really enjoyed the experience of travelling Googs Track. We left it about midday and crossed the Trans Continental Rail Line. Since then we have travelled in view of the line all the way to Kingoonya. We arrived mid afternoon and had not seen a vehicle in the three days since we left Ceduna but strangely we have seen three trains!

The scenery all the way has been green with yellow, white and pink flowers. Some areas were so thickly covered with  white flowers you would think it had snowed.

When travelling in dune country it is wise to have a tall red flag flying from the top of your vehicle.
Yesterday we lost our flag to an overhanging branch. Luckily, soon after leaving this morning we found a red
flag hanging high, caught in a branch. Lucky us!

Mt Finke

Wildflowers look like snow!
September 05

We have travelled about 70 km today over very rough terrain and many sand dunes which average about 11 metres in height.The flies are following us even though the weather is much cooler.

The track has taken us through Goog's wonderful garden .. a native garden full of flowers. The bush is similar to that of yesterday but with a few new flowers. The main one which took my eye was a small bush with a complex red-pink bloom about 12 cm across. I have no clue what its name is but have called it 'Red Firewheel'. I will need to research that further.

 It is surprising how quickly the bush changes from one area to another..sometimes eucalypt trees either mallee or tall and spreading and sometimes oak trees or causerinas. I have been admiring casia bushes for some days..all the same type with a lovely yellow bloom, but this afternoon we have found three other types which I am unable to identify/  Each type has different leaves and they all have yellow blooms which are slightly different. I need some expert advice.

There have been few birds about today whereas yesterday we saw many in the air. I think birds are an indication that there is water about. There are always a few lizards on the warm sand and some of these have spectacular markings. Foot prints on the road tell us a little about the wild life but today we have only seen lizard tracks, camel tracks and wild dog tracks.

Late this afternoon we left the main track and came 7 kms, out here to Mt Finke which has been dominant on the horizon since lunch time. We actually parked on top of a sand dune so we could see it. Mt Finke is 369 metres high. We have camped here for the night among a few Eucalyptus Youngiana trees. They have finished blooming and only their large nuts remain. We were fortunate to see the beautiful Youngiana flowers a couple of years ago when we drove down the Connie Sue Highway.
At present we are in the Yellabinna Regional Reserve which is in the southern part of The Great Victoria Desert.
Unidentified Firewheel
September 4th.

We have had a very enjoyable and interesting day travelling on  Googs Track, despite the 40 deg heat.
It was much more comfortable travelling in EC than outside with flies.

Googs Track has many dunes, in fact a total of 373 for the whole track distance...we still have a few to go. EC loves dunes and quietly glides over each one.
The bush began quite plainly but now we have camped in a beautiful garden of yellow, orange and deep pink. There are several varieties of eucalypt trees..not identified, but with leaves ranging from glaucous, through green to glossy. There are many daisies of yellow, white and pink. Yellow Cassia is in full bloom along with a variety of wattles. To complete the display there are beautiful Golden Desert Grevilleas, deep pink Francisiana, pink/mauve Eremophilus (Emu Bush) and white Rattlepod Grevilleas. It is easy to continue taking photos.
Googs Lake

Googs Lake is a magnificent salt lake about 15 km in length and in places up to one km wide. We drove quite a distance along the edge and then returned to the main track and have camped about 8 km north of Googs Lake. We did intend to stay longer but the hot day and the flies made us continue. We do hope for a cooler day tomorrow.

The only other detour we took from the main track was to see a rock hole. Surprisingly it had about 60cm of water in it. It was discovered by John (Goog) Denton who believed he was the first white person to see this rockhole. He found it during the 1970s.

Desert Grevillea

Once more, it proved to be a collection day for John, as he found a solar heating bag full of warm water!!
We felt sorry for those who missed their shower this evening.
September 3rd

After a very pretty sunset at Yalata the morning dawned warm and full of flies. They are the most pesky things. We packed up as quickly as possible and set off soon after 8.00 am. It was good travelling on the Eyre Highway to Ceduna. The only stop we had was to buy fuel at Penong which is known for cheap fuel at $1.69 per litre..much cheaper than we have had to pay recently.

Our time in Ceduna was busy with a tedious visit to the Laundrette which  eats $1 coins in both the washers and the driers! Next was a visit to the Post Office to collect our voting papers. We are pleased that this arrangement worked for us and now our votes have been posted back to Wangaratta.

Beth and John had lunch with us at the local bakery. It was our last meal together after so many camp meals. We shared the cooking of meals and night time chores which made the trip much easier. It was sad to see them go on their way as we have had a fun time together. They are calling in Adelaide, to visit an old uncle..then home to Lake Tyers in Victoria.

Lastly we visited the Foodland store and the local Fish Cooperative where we again purchased Snapper for dinner.

Tonight we are camped along side Googs Track which heads north to the Trans Continental Rail Line. We are looking forward to bush country and sand dunes. The weather has been extremely hot at 35.5 deg. There are dark clouds so maybe there will be a cooling shower of rain.

From southern end, beginning of Googs Track

Monday, September 2, 2013

September 2nd..

We camped a few km inside the South Australian border amongst thick Mallee scrub. A lovely spot.
Up and away early still on the rough road. It is hard driving and hard being a passenger.
The main stop, apart from another rock hole, was the deserted Koonalda Station homestead and surrounding sheds and wrecked cars. Fortunately someone is maintaining this sight so it is acceptably neat for visitors. Both the old shearing shed and the old homestead provided great interest for us. The property was operated from 1938 to 1988...50 years of very hard labour.
From here we headed south for 15 km to resume our eastward travel on the bitumen.
We had lunch on top of the Bunda Cliffs in the Great Australian Bight. It was quite cool, however this evening as we camp near Yalata it is extremely hot and humid. Feels like rain is coming!

Deserted Koonalda Shearing Shed

Bunda Cliffs on the Great Australian Bight

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September 1st

The day dawned calm, with a magnificently wide blue sky. We found the Old Coach Road track and travelled along it for over 50 km. The narrow track was very rough with limestones which is typical of the Nullarbor plains. The vegetation was mostly blue bush and salt bush and a few trees..a type of Mallee Eucalypt, Acacias and Grevilleas as well as some grasses which were the result of recent light rains. The track was completely dry. The main interest for the drive were rock holes, limestone caves and dolines which  are large holes in the limestone. However the country was alive with kangaroos..huge mobs. We probably saw about 1000 kangaroos for the morning.
The Roadhouse at Eucla was a welcome stop for fuel, cool drinks and a chocolate ice cream for the guys.
On we went to the border of South Australia and Western Australia where another time adjustment
was in order.We have camped early for the night on the Old Eyre Highway, near the border, amongst Mallee scrub.
Doline on Nullarbor Plains
August 31st

After some communication with my friend Bronwen Menner we found that we had camped a little over one hundred km apart. Bronwen and Graham were travelling west and we were homeward bound going east. We were all looking out for a yellow boat on top of a rig. Surely enough we met them a little way east of Cocklebiddy. It was quite amazing that this rendez vous actually eventuated. The six of us stopped and had a 'chat chat' for about 10 minutes and then all three vehicles continued.
The day was fine with a light wind, as we returned to the Eyre Highway, with the idea to find a track to go north to intersect the old highway across the Nullarbor.

The wind had begun to blow by midday..a typical Nullarbor wind which gradually becomes hard to tolerate.  We were confused by a 45 minute time adjustment so we ate our lunch when we found a suitable spot among some trees. It was difficult to find a track north from the highway even though there are tracks marked on the maps. They are not always visible when we reached the spot.
Eventually after asking details at the Mundrabilla Roadhouse we find ourselves camping at the top of the
escarpment in a nasty strong and dusty wind.
The  owner of the property visited us and was able to direct us to the Old Coach Road track. Evidently the Old Highway followed the flats below the Nullarbor Plains
Nearby our camp we discovered large burrows. John saw a wombat sitting above one of these burrows. Since then we have identified it as the Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat.

The desolate country of Mundrabilla Station