Near to Balranald is Yanga National Park which has a big frontage on the Darling River, and is well worth a visit. Yesterday I visited Yanga woolshed in the National Park about 6 Km south of Balranald. A very big wooshed built in 1896 after an earlier woolshed burnt down. It is massive, being able to house 3000 sheep under cover in the woolshed, having stands for 40 shearers and able to store 2000 bales of wool. The area where the sheep were penned under cover were called the sweat pens for obvious reasons. The sheep were held under cover to keep them dry should it rain. Yanga could carry up to 100,000 sheep, so they needed a big shed. The yards outside the woolshed could hold around another 5000 sheep. The record for ones days shearing was 5000 sheep.
Behind the shearing area shown above was the wool room where wool classing was carried out. In the photo you can see a classing table and the bins where the classer threw the classed wool into the correct bin.
Behind the bins are the wool presses that compress each class of wool into bales which are labelled with their micron size, classer registration number and the station name. In the early days the wool was shipped on paddle steamer from a wharf right behind the woolshed.
Today I headed north to visit camps 21, 22 and 23. The VEE split into several parties at this stage and Burke sacked three of the team. The country was very flat but was quite green with patches of mallee scrub. Saltbush covered parts of the plain and the camels with the VEE apparently really enjoyed eating this plant. The VEE were still travelling without water so relied on finding lagoons or lakes. Some stations had built small dams which were utilised for water. The journey was not following established roads, which did not exist, but followed faint aboriginal tracks. Along the way I passed Bald Hill which was only about 50 feet above the plain, but was still considered worthy of being named, it was the only hill I passed. Camp 21 was just at the start of a road that now roughly follows the VEE journey and is called Burke and Wills Track.
Photos of the next two camps give you an idea of how flat and empty the country is.
After camp 23 I returned via Box Creek Road which was a bit boggy and I had the Prado in 4WD. It was a bit strange though because the wind was blowing dust over the road and it was hard to see ahead yet the road was wet, unusual.
I then went to Yanga National Park to visit the homestead, which was interesting. It was drop log construction in which they cut cyprus logs about 5 feet long with bark left on and with tenons each end that slotted into vertical supports. The gaps between the logs were sealed with mud. It was built between 1862 and 1872 and is surrounded with well maintained gardens. The homestead is on Yanga Lake which is a massive lake that is normally full, but it dried out in 2000 and people wondered if it would be full again. Well it is full right now. There was commercial fishing carried out on the lake in the past, nine licences, and massive 4 foot long Murray Cod were frequently caught. It is reported that 7 tonnes of fish were caught in 3 days. The commercial fishers used nets.
As well as using cyprus logs to build the walls the verandah posts were also cyprus logs with bark left on.
I had a drive around Balranald, but lots of walks and drives were flooded. For example, there is a pedestrian swing bridge across the Murrumbidgee near the caravan park which I walked across, but the other side is flooded so the nature walk is not available.
I also went out to see Redbank Weir on the Murrumbidgee but the access road was flooded. I have a rest day tomorrow with nothing planned so it will be good to have a sleep in. On Monday I head off again toward Mungo NP, Pooncarie and Menindie.