Saturday, 16 August 2014

North of Goyder's Line

In 1865 George Goyder was Surveyor-General of South Australia when he surveyed a 'line' that indicated reliable rainfall areas for agriculture. He advised against planting crops north of the line. His line has proved to be remarkably accurate.

The last couple of days have been a bit of a shock, weather-wise and visually. After seven weeks of travelling up and down the Stuart Highway through central Australia we reached Port Augusta then crossed the Southern Flinders through Horrocks Pass. Immediately we were in a different world. The small fenced paddocks were green and lush.

The weather was cold, bitterly cold, and wet - a shock after weeks of warm sunshine. We discovered some delightful towns as we moved down the Main North Road - Wilmington, Melrose, Murray Town, Wirrabara and Laura - towns we didn't know existed, set in rolling hills beneath the range to the west. The weather has been so cold and wet that we haven't dallied to explore (and there is a new grandson to meet) but we plan to come back one day and do so. We did manage two 'indoor' activities. We visited the delightfully creative couple at Walnut Tree Studio in Laura, and we spent time exploring the Steamtown railway museum at Peterborough and stayed to see their excellent sound and light show.

Mulga and termite mounds
Some thoughts on our trip north of Goyder's Line:

  • There's a lot of mulga vegetation in Australia. Let's hope it stays that way. And further north the mulga is replaced by fabulous open savannah woodland. Spinifex and saltbush and desert oaks and red sand dunes and ancient red rocks - all wonderful. Wow!
  • There are a lot of tourists and caravans moving through the landscape in northern Australia each winter. We waved to a lot of them on the road and we've met friendly and interesting fellow travellers everywhere we went. The grey nomads are spending a lot of money in the north.
  • Thousands of Black Kites populate the Top End each winter. They are ubiquitous.
  • Every hotel in outback towns employs backpackers from all over the world. The Chilean girl at the Oodnadatta Roadhouse had been there eight months and was leaving the following week. I asked her what the summer had been like and she shuddered and said 'Horrible'.
  • Termite mounds are amazing. All shapes, sizes and colours. There must be millions and millions of termites recycling organic matter throughout the centre and north of Australia. And travellers the length of the Stuart have delighted in dressing the mounds in old tshirts.
  • We geocached all the way - a delightful way to explore areas we wouldn't have seen otherwise, and a great way to break up those long stretches of highway to stretch the legs and the brain.
  • I don't think we have enough time left in this life to fully explore this marvellous country we live in.
  • Our biggest expense was diesel. There are a lot of kilometres between Geelong and Darwin!
  • We didn't explore the east and west Macdonnell Ranges at Alice Springs or Coober Pedy because we did that in August 2011. You can read my posts about our time there in the archive list in the panel on the right side of this blogpage.
Camping in the Mulga
Tomorrow we cross another state border as we move from South Australia into our home state of Victoria. I'm already looking forward to our next trip.

Sunset, north of Port Augusta.

1 comment:

macmsue said...

I always find the homestead ruins in the Flinders sad, I'm not sure if the people who built there were ignoring Goyder's Line or it wasn't widely known then. Shame you couldn't have brought some of the northern warmth back with you. I've enjoyed reading about your roaming.