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| Topic: An Island Holiday (Part Two)
08/7/2021 at 5:01am
Location: Melbourne Australia
Outfit: Windsor Rapid Off Road Van + tents
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Previously we had gone on a boat trip up stream, on this occasion we headed in the opposite direction. Our destination was part of the Murray called Higgins Cutting, it is a relatively new path for the river. It’s far narrower than the previous course, one that can challenge larger vessels as the current is far stronger there.
This next photo was taken after we had gone through the cutting, we had turned around to head back towards our camp. The pic looks as though you would continue straight ahead to make your way upstream, but if you did you would not be able to get through (ok for kayaks though).
There are signs on the trees on the left that points to the narrow channel (Higgins Cutting) as being the Murray River now.
A pic of Higgins Cutting and the next one making our way through it.
Here we are a bit further up stream heading back to the van, just before an amazing experience, one that would be part of an event that would be one of the hi-lights of our trip.
If you look closely along the bank of the river on the left in that last pic, you can just make out a small dinghy. Strangely it was making its way towards us with two men in it who were flagging us down, they had never seen a folding/Porta Bote before. They had come from a property which can just be made out amongst the vegetation on the far bank.
They encouraged us to call in and check it out, quite historic they said with plenty to see. With the mention of historical buildings etc, I didn’t need any more persuading!!
The station welcomes all visitors, encouraging all to stop and say G’day. (Proven by what happened to us)
The owners Eric Thomas and Kerry Alderson greeted us like long lost friends or family. Eric filled us in on the properties history and their role in it. They had purchased the property in 2019 and are currently turning it into an eco friendly tourist destination.
The Homestead was built around 1920, abandoned in the 1960s it remained derelict until they purchased it. They are now renovating/restoring it to its former glory.
They had only recently built a camp kitchen and deck for visitors and guests, what a sensational position/outlook!!
We spent quite some time with Eric who regaled us with the most terrific spiel on the history of the property and surrounding district. His research and knowledge was amazing and he spoke with such enthusiasm that he had us hanging on every word. I’m known for having a keen interest in such matters so was in seventh heaven. I was keen to see some of the really old stuff, in particular the stations shearing shed that was only a few hundred metres away.
Built in the late 1800s its age could be seen by the condition of the fencing and sheep yards/runs out the front of it. The Cypress Pine that they were made from is an extremely hardy and resilient timber, it takes a very long time for it to weather and break down.
Modifications were carried out around 1910 (to modernise it), it’s still old with so much character!
The rear of the shed.
Before leaving, Eric told us more of the regions history. One tale was when the Paddle Steamer the Gem sprung a leak and partly sunk in Higgins Cutting (just downstream from where we were) it was the owners/residents of Wompinni Station that gave the crew and passengers comfort and lodgings until they were finally taken to Renmark. Wompinni was part of the larger Kulcurna Station which at that time was still owned by the Higgins family.
In time the Gem was re floated and is now in a static display at the Swan Hill Maritime Museum after being lovingly restored.
I will return to Wompinni and the history of the Higgins name later in these reports.
We bade our farewells and headed off back upstream, these cliffs were not far from Wompinni and then our campsite as we arrived back from an amazing trip in the boat.
The next morning we were greeted with scenes on the river that left us awe struck, how I love being out in the sticks, immersed in mother nature, particularly when this happens right in front of you.
A Pelican joined the show.
Reflection photography doesn’t get much better than that, just sensational to witness it, wow. After it we set out on what would be a full days drive. We crossed the Lindsay River and made our way towards Wentworth.
Our first stop at Wentworth was the towns Fotherby Park where a number of displays took our eye.
Inside it was fairly basic!!!
Whist pottering about the house we lost Kristie, then she found me (and I her) as I took this pic Ha!
Also there was the Paddle Steamer Ruby (built in Morgan in 1907) maintenance and restoration was being carried out by volunteers which was just about complete.
From Visit Wentworth’s page.
“Specially Designed with a Shallow Draught Ruby was 205 tons gross, 132’9” in length and had a beam of 18’9”. It was built with a whaleboat stern, a straight stem and was of carvel design. The depth of the hull was 6” and she was a light draught, drawing only between 2’6” and 3’ when fully laden with around 85 tons of wood and supplies. This enabled her to operate on much lower river levels at times when other steamers were still tied up. She was also able to carry 30 passengers in style and comfort”
Located on the bank of the Darling in the towns Caravan Park can be found this historic tree, known as Sturt’s Tree.
A quick stop at the junction of the Darling and Murray Rivers (Darling coming in from the left) before we were on our way again.
We pulled up at Perry Sandhills, an area of rolling sand hills that formed around 40,000 years ago. These dunes were used as Aboriginal burial grounds, they also have many fossils of extinct mammals such as the diprotodon (a giant bear like animal) the procoptodon golia (a huge kangaroo) thylacoleo (a marsupial lion) as well as giant emus and goannas.
We drove further west, stopping at the Darling River Annabranch (nearly 400 kms long) it was the original course of the Darling up until around 10,000 years ago, when the river formed a new and current course.
This is such a picturesque spot with mature River Red Gums framing a very historic bridge.
The old bridge was first constructed in 1867, it was upgraded in 1895 and again in 1950 to cater for heavier and larger vehicles.
In 2003 it was closed when a new bridge was built just to the south of it.
How much more character does the old bridge have compared to the new one?
All of the places we had seen so far on this trip were new for Kristie, the next place we visited was one that I was keen to show her. Kristie a school teacher has shown a keen interest in learning more of Australia’s history something that was lacking in her (and most others) education.
We stopped at Rufus River near its outlet from Lake Victoria. Sadly its significance is that it was the site of an horrific massacre of our indigenous peoples many years ago.
The Rufus River Massacre Memorial where a number of interpretive panels, tell of not just that sad event, but so much more.
Right beside the memorial were these.
Rufus River itself as it continues south towards its junction with the Murray River
It wasn’t even lunch time yet on our big drive, the afternoon and a whole lot more will be shown in my next report.
Regards , Col, Jen & Kristie.
The worst day above ground, is a whole lot better than the best one under it. Live life to the fullest while you can.
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