I am have enjoyed my stay in Kingston-on-Murray, the caravan park is right on the Murray and in an area of Australia that I haven’t stayed for more than an overnight stop. It is also good to be in a place where you don’t have to sign your life away to buy a bottle of wine. Just near where I stayed is Banrock Station Wine and Wetlands centre, a marvellous environmental initiative. The company has been rehabilitating wetlands since 1993 and the progress they have made is amazing. It is so positive to see a corporate entity so committed to environmental causes; they have spent $6M on environmental projects in 13 countries. They have established several walks through the bush and wetlands that start at the cafe/wine tasting building. The view from the building is wonderful.
The walk I chose was 4.5 Km and it takes you through some Mallee bushland and then onto a boardwalk through the wetlands. The track is gravelled and an easy walk. Along the way there was a patch of Spiny Daisy that had been planted, part of a national project to protect the endangered plant. It was interesting to me that the first specimen of this plant was collected by Dr Beckler, the scientific officer in the Burke and Wills team.
After about 1 Km you move onto the boardwalk which winds through open water, reeds and trees. I also came on a small snake, about 3 feet long, which gave me a start so much that I forgot to take a photo, I Googled it and I think it was a tiger snake. The snake moved away and then slid off the boardwalk into the water, phew!
Along the way there was a shelter and fairy martins had built a nest on the steel structure, so I waited and waited and eventually was able to get a photo of one of the birds on the nest. There was also a beautiful nest in the reeds by the boardwalk nearby, only about 5 cm across, so tiny.
There was some really interesting historical info presented along the way, this area was a lake – Lake Bungunnia – that extended to Menindee Lakes and Balranald in NSW from the coast of SA. The lake was formed by a natural tectonic barrier close to the coast in SA, that collapsed 700,000 years ago draining the area. Prior to that the area was under the sea until about 2 million years ago when the land was pushed up and the ocean level dropped. The cliffs along the Murray have shellfish embedded from the time they were under the ocean. The forerunner of the Murray started running about 3 million years ago. We live in such an ancient and interesting country.
So off to Pinnaroo, a small town just over the border in SA at the same level (latitude) as Ouyen in Victoria. After setting up I went to Ngarkat National Park which protects an area of remnant mallee vegetation. It also provides habitat for an endangered Mallee Emu wren which has only a few populations in the wild; limited distribution that could be lost in a big bushfire. However controlled burns are necessary as the wrens breed best in an area that has been burned within the last 16 years, as that maintains the spinifex at it optimum size and condition (they nest in the spinifex).
That is not my photo, but it is a lovely little wren. The park is classic Mallee scrub, mallee gums, little bushes and sandy soil, but it is incredibly peaceful. I walked through the bush and the only sound, apart from the sound of an occasional bird was my boots in the sand, when I stopped it was absolute silence. It was a pity it has been so dry as last time Marg and I camped here we found some orchids, but none this time. I really enjoyed the walk.
After the walk I had a picnic in the camping area, again very relaxing. I used a boundary post to support the camera for this photo, it’s great having a camera that has a fold out screen.
Today I went out to Karte National Park that also protects remanent Mallee bushland and the Emu Scrub Wren. We had camped here as well and looking at our campsite bought a lump to my throat and lots of good memories.
On the road to Karte there were many stumpy tail lizards crossing the road, their shape is distinctive so you have time to avoid them if you are careful.
There is one walk at Karte so I did that, not as peaceful as yesterday’s walk at Ngarkat because it was windy, but still enjoyable. The track winds up a sandhill and then returns to the campground.
Tomorrow I will be off to Bendigo for a week or so and then home. I have some tests to complete and Bendigo is the furthest that Melbourne Pathology operate; (I got the specimen bottles from them before I left home so I have to use them now, both the bottles and Melbourne Pathology).