Almost in the Footsteps of Sturt Terry & Meg with Rob & Anne travelled up through the NSW Desert NPs in two Nissan 4X4 twin cab utes; we were towing a Jayco Eagle van and Rob & Anne a Kimberley camper. Parts of this trip were too tough for the Jayco, which was not an off road van & sustained minor damage: watertank connections broke twice; door rivets sheared. The off-road Eagle would have fared no better as both versions share the same design for these parts. We met at Cobram for coffee at 9am. In Vic and lower Riverina everything was green, but little water in Finley River at Deniliquin, Moulamein & Balranald. RHS Park on way into Finley is a good lunch spot. The ricelands of Moulamein/Finley are flat &, at this time, dry. No rice had been planted for four years. The channels were still running though (Must have enough water to supply towns but not enough for rice). We took the Edwards River road from Finley to Balranald and had lunch by river at Moulemein. After lunch we travelled through flat river valleys with lots of low spreading trees. The plastic fittings of the watertank broke for the first time. On the Jayco Eagle these fittings are standard low pressure garden fittings so we expected we should be able to pick some up in Broken Hill. We were carrying plenty of spare water so the water loss was not disastrous. Unfortunately it was a public holiday this Monday so no hardware shops were open. Mungo turnoff onto a dirt road. Good signage to NP. Flat saltbush plains now start. Pigface blooming in large low clumps in scrub. Low mulga scrub, mallee, red dirt, spinifex. Carpets of small white star flowers with grey/green succulent rosette  leaves Historical So this trip followed almost in the footsteps of the first Australian explorer to travel up through western NSW, Captain Charles Sturt who set out in 1844 with a large party of 16 men, 400 sheep, bullock drays and horses. His MO was to take a small party forward to established water, then move the whole group up to it. This would be repeated as they made their way successfully through arid landscapes where water was difficult to find, except in small soaks the Aborigines knew could only offer water to individual families. In this way he successfully moved up the Darling River to the Menindee Lakes, across to the north Broken Hill area, then north to Depot Glen near Milparinka. His main party stayed there on the billabong for 6 months while he with 2 men completed a reconnoitre north-west across the Strzelecki Track and Sturt’s Stony Desert to the south-east corner of the Simpson Desert. He was searching for good land and testing his belief that an inland sea existed that would offer good pastures for grazing. This trip dashed his hopes of an inland sea by revealing the arid nature of the Centre. Yet he maintained good relationships with local Aboriginal tribes, only lost one man and returned to Adelaide with 200 of the sheep that had been taken as a food supplies. They had thrived on the desert saltbush. Paradoxically billions of years ago there was an inland sea that appeared and disappeared several times as the continent was torn apart and reformed by tectonic plate movements. Even 40,000 years ago the system of south-west-running great lake chains from the monsoon north down as far as Lake Mungo offered rich grazing ranges and lake/river environments for early Aboriginal people. The Centre dried rapidly in the last 20,000 years.  Between Stephens Creek (Broken Hill north) and Depot Glen a series of tracks follow Sturt’s path up the far west edge of NSW near the border. We did not take these tracks but have left them for another time.
Copyright Grey Gypsies Australia 2009
NSW Desert Parks
Grey Gypsies of Australia
NSW Desert Parks
Next: Lake Mungo
Previous: Slide Show
Home Mungo National park Sturt NP Slide Show