Monday, 14 March 2011
After the floods of January much of the central Grampians' access roads and track network had been washed away and thus the area was closed. However Mt. Sturgeon to the south and Mt. Staplyton in the north both provided good walks - the latter particularly so with an airy scramble to a lofty viewpoint proving to be a highlight. Quiet Parks camping near thought provoking aboriginal drawings was much appreciated after which we headed through the vast Victorian wheat fields with sleepy hamlets dominated by enormous silos.
Occasional clouds of locusts coated the windscreen in a smeary mess but were prevented from clogging the radiator by a smart new skirt as we drove to the Wyperfeld and Murray Sunset Parks which jointly are half the size of Wales and are bisected by just the one major road.
We had got in to Little Desert Park but access to the campground was very silty and with the isolation we did not want to risk getting stuck but Wyperfeld was fine and we spent our first three night stay of the trip there. Good cycling along sandy tracks through the mallee gave us access to a number of walks in the dry desert scrub with occasional vantage points providing views across the endless landscape. The bird life was noisy and varied ranging from large but wary emus to inquisitive superb fairy wrens, raucous galahs and sulphur crested cockatoos.
The mercury hit the 30 degree mark by day and did not fall much overnight but at least we were able to use our solar shower again to great effect and despite the long holiday weekend very few people arrived to share the solitude.
Murray Sunset contains old salt workings at the Pink Lakes where we stayed a night in isolation and enjoyed a ride round the Pioneer Track past the old salt stockpiles which were once carried by Afghani and Pakistani camel teams to a rail head 3 days away. The lakes were indeed a surprising pink hue due to a small organism that can tolerate water 800 times saltier than the sea and is comprised largely of beta-carotene.
A shift west took us in to South Australia where the fruit and veg. police inspected our stores before we headed south to the Fleurieu Peninsula from where we will cross to Kangaroo Island for a few days before dropping Sarah at Adelaide airport in ten days time.
This post's slideshow is a compilation of photos taken during our travels of the trusty van which has now completed 220,000 miles, half in our ownership over the last 6 years. Considering the many months we have spent living in it the degree of wear and tear is minimal with a few cushions and curtains looking tired but otherwise serviceable - perhaps whilst Sarah is home I will get round to a spring clean!