Sunday, September 8, 2019

Safari 2019 September 8th

Sunday September 8th 2019

Despite the wind and rain we had a quiet night. By morning the weather was calm but a thick fog had settled over Lake Reedy. Our last day was uneventful apart from being amazed at the number of cars on the road. We did a grocery shop at a very large Aldi Store in was very busy. 
We lunched at a Rest Stop near Dookie then continued home to Milawa by 2.30pm. The closer we came to Milawa, the greener the pastures appeared. A bright welcome home. We were away for 8 weeks and travelled 6837 kms. All were interesting, most roads were very easy on our rig, a couple of roads we wisely decided not to take our van on but went along them with the Toyota only. Bitumen roads were welcome but some proved rougher than the gravel roads.

Fog over Lake Reedy
Unpacking and washing has begun and so ends another great trip exploring some new places and revisiting some areas that we were already familiar with.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Safari 2019 September 7th

Saturday September 7th 2019
Yellow Everlasting Daisies

The wind did blow last night but it had abated considerably this morning and the sky was mostly blue. Off we went for a walk, taking the trail marked 'Kline Nature Walk'.
This took us through the surrounding dunes and along Lake Kenyon and across to Lake Crosbie where we were camped. The bush was dominated by yellow flowers of Wattle, Cassia, Everlasting daisies and 2 or 3 of other types of yellow daisies. We were able to have a good look at the old salt mine as well as the pink salt from the lake. John was pleased to have recognised the Blue Leaved Mallee again. I was weary when we completed the large (nearly) 6 km loop.  We were lucky to fit this walk into our day as it has been raining on and off ever since.

Near view of Everlasting Daisies

We called through Ouyen and purchased our holiday special of a Vanilla Slice. We ate our lunch in the park under a lovely tall Lemon Scented Gum which was massed with blooms. I doubt that I have ever seen this type of tree in flower before.
Tonight will be the last night of our Safari for this year. The rain and wind has caught up with us. It is forecast for the next few days as well.
We have settled in the Reedy Lake RV Apex Camp near Kerang.

Safari 2019 September 6th

Friday, September 6th 2019

We have enjoyed our 2 days here and John was able to recognise/identify 2 of the mallee trees...Blue Leaved Mallee and Narrow Leaved Red Mallee. In fact here at Pink Lakes, the Blue Leaved Mallee is considered to be 'rare'.

I  felt quite sad leaving the Murray River National Park this morning. My thoughts went back to Margaret Craigie who reared five children here on her own. Her husband had gone to the Gold Fields to make some money for his family, but how difficult it would have been in such dry and barren conditions to grow food or go to buy it, and so it goes on...'how difficult'. My heart goes out to such brave mothers.

Wind, Wind and more wind. Yes it has been blowing all day. 
The rows and rows of grape vines in the Berri and Loxton area were beginning to shoot green ready for the coming fruit season. Bring on some Australian fresh grapes, then we won't see Californian varieties available in the shops.
Loxton streets had a great display of Wood Wardie trees showing their large yellow blooms.

We drove south in South Australia. The Mallee bush, as always, gives me great pleasure. After crossing the border at Pinaroo, we continued east to Murrayville where we stopped for was still windy and rainy as well. 

View of Dust storm (left) & Rain storm (right)

Lake Hardy - A Pink Lake
Our plan was to continue on to the Pink Lakes for camping. The weather was atrocious. We could see a dust storm ahead of us to the left and to the right there was a dark rain storm. We wondered whether to continue, but from radio broadcasts it seems the whole state was being 'blown' with high winds. The camp sites were really quite attractive and looked out over a Pink Lake. We will stay the night here and listen to the wind here as anywhere else! 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Safari 2019 September 5th

Murray River National Park September 5th, 2019

Stumpy Tailed Lizzard

We went exploring this morning in this rather dry and bare Park. However, there is always something interesting to look at and comment on. Firstly we drove along the Katarapko Creek which runs through the park. It carries a lot of water. In actual fact I think it is an Anna branch of the Murray River because it runs out of the Murray and then back in. We are camped on it's bank, which provides a great opportunity for Bird Watching. It has been noticeable while we have been touring that birds and animals can be seen where there is water, there is plenty of water here!
While driving this morning we saw three Stumpy Tailed Lizards which actually belong to the Blue Tongue Lizard family. Sometimes they are called Shingle Back Lizards. We have recognised a variety of birds...namely Pelicans, Whistling Kites, Red Rumped Parrots, Blue Bonnet Parrots, Shellduck and have heard the strong whistle from a Butcher Bird. After some discussion we are now able to tell the difference between a Willy Wagtail and a Restless Flycatcher. They were in the same Redgum tree together so a comparison was made easier.

Memorial Stone in remembrance of Margaret Craigie

The short walk to the remnants of Cragg's Hut was worthwhile because the track took us up to the grave of Margaret Craigie. The path went through the Mallee trees and over sandy country. The Craigie family settled the area during the 1850s. John Craigie left for the Goldfields after a succession of unsuccessful seasons farming animals and trying to grow crops. Margaret stayed in the area with their five children. What a brave lady. One assett must surely have been the nearby Katarapko Creek. There seems to be some confusion as to the correct spelling of the family name. Some sign boards state it as Cragg and yet on this grave stone the name is spelt Craigie. I think they may have been known by both 'spellings /pronunciations!

Eucalyptus Largiflorens or Black Box in bloom

  This afternoon we walked along the 'Kia Kia' Nature walk. It was a short stroll through the fallen trees, along the creek bank with notice boards making note of the surrounds. River Red Gums line the creeks banks but Black Box trees are the main tree growing in the area. There is a lot of wild lignum growing and also noticeable were succulents with bright pink flowers. I could not help wondering how they grow and bloom in such dry and stark land.

The day has been quite warm in the mid 20degrees. The evening has cooled with a weather change. This will be our 2nd night here but we will move back into Victoria tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Safari 2019 September 4th

September 4th 2019

Early morning houseboat trip
Clouds have been passing us by all day. Some are dark and a little threatening. People here need the water but it is not much fun camping in the rain.
As well as watching the activities on the Murray River we had a walk along the dusty paths of the Morgan Conservation Park before we left the area. Our camp was very close to the massive Pumping and Treatment Plant for the water prior to it being sent north to so many places that need this valuable asset.

We were lucky to see a small flock of Regent
Pelicans & Ducks painted on Waikerie Silo
Parrots showing off their beautiful yellow plumes.

We travelled along the Murray River on and off all day. We lunched in the park  at Waikerie and watched the ferry carry vehicles back and forth across this mighty River
Car Ferry crossing the Murray R.

By chance John noticed Silo Art in Waikerie. The 3 or 4 silos have been painted by two artists and were very interesting. 

We are now in the Murray River National Park which is south of Barmera and have camped on Katarapko Creek which is an Anna branch of the Murray River. There are still clouds about as evening falls.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Safari 2019 September 3rd

Tuesday September 3rd 2019

This mornings drive east and south has again been interesting. We followed gravel roads from Robertstown. The country is suffering severe drought. Mallee bush and salt bush paddocks dominated our views. There were many, many deserted and very neglected homes. One example was so very severe that I couldn't bare to photograph it. All buildings were literally falling down with the rafters and thatch slipping into the sheds contents of rusted machinery. The people who had tried to farm the area would have long left with broken hearts and broken backs with no rewards for their years of hard toil with little hope.

We lunched and purchased a few groceries in Morgan The Ferry brought us across the River Murray. Our camp for the night is here in the Morgan Conservation park on the banks the mighty river. Whistling Kites can be heard constantly over head. I even saw one flying after a crow. While we were enjoying lunch we watched a magnificent pelican flying in to land on the water. It reminded us very much of a plane coming slowly down to land.

Steep cliffs along the Murray

Safari 2019 September 1st & 2nd

September 1st  2019

We had chosen a very peaceful spot to camp in last night. The day dawned ‘bright blue’ despite the fact that we had two light showers of rain during the dark time! I will refer to this free camping spot as ‘Pekina Free Camp’. We did not see the owner but the sign on the gate invited us to camp for free. That is what we did. The property is directly opposite the Pekina Creek Reservoir. Our morning walk took us along the tracks around the dam wall and empty dam. There was no water. It appeared to have been dry for a number of years. I did not find out where the township of Orroroo now sources its water from, but the drought is severe across these properties. It would be difficult if you were one of the sheep that live in the bush here!
Empty Pekina Creek Reservoir

 We travelled south through undulating hills, farmlands and crops. Gradually the crops began to appear much greener so presumably there has been more rain fall. Father’s Day lunch was enjoyed at Mount Brian which is a small township that has the notoriety of being amongst a large windmill farm. There is a single, huge blade from one of these windmills, on display, in the park in the centre of town.
Map of Heyson Trail
Burra is a town we have visited on many of our trips north. Originally it was a busy copper mining area. The miners cottages are still available for accommodation…from past experience we found them to be extremely cold. This visit we walked along the ‘much improved’ street of shops which were open for Father’s Day. All John scored was a chocolate coated icecream!
On reading the noticeboard on the creek bank we realised we were again traversing the Heyson Trail which, I think, I mentioned earlier is 1200 km long, beginning at Parachilna, of ‘Prairie Hotel’ fame and goes south to the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula. 
Tonight we have settled in a delightful camping area which actually has running water. It's name is ‘Worlds End’ and is situated in the Burra Gorge on the Burra Creek. A number of family groups were celebrating Father’s Day with a picnic in the sun. It is a perfect setting. The park has an amazing collection of huge red gum trees (Camaldulensis Obtusa) Some would be at least 400 years old and maybe older. They are gnarled and bent, burnt out by fire and no doubt used by many creatures for nesting and shelter. 
NB later, John has discovered that some of these trees are the same type of red gum that we have at home ( Camaldulensis Camaldulensis)

 September 2nd 2019

Heyson Trail marker on a tree trunk

World’s End Camping Ground is a most attractive place to stay. We have decided to stay a second night. There were up to 10 other rigs here with us last night. Most continued their journey early this morning, but already by midday several new rigs have arrived, I presume in readiness for tonight.
Hooray, we have actually walked a tiny section of the Hans Heyson Trail which we found crossing this camp ground. Our mornings activity took us for a 4km walk along the Burra gorge and creek. The creek has a steady flow of water in it until it disappears underground. It was too wide to cross the water, each time we were tempted. The tracks (of which there are many) wander along the creek, sometimes across gravel and other times over the green grassy banks but always under the wonderful red gums that grow along the creek. These trees are healthy and large due to the permanent flow of water. Even if the water is underground the Red Gums would be able to access this with their huge roots. They have been living here for many years, so are well used to the seasonal changes from hot summers to cold winters.
A pair of wonderful old red gums

Wattle found in Burra Creek Gorge