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Sturt's Stony Desert (Read 19295 times)
 
Jan 31st, 2012 at 9:43am

Graybeard   Offline
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Dear Peoples

This is a very Photo Intensive thread. If you have a slow internet connection and you are interested in Sturt's Stony Desert, then you just may wish to make a coffee while this thread loads.

Click on the photos and they will enlarge

Sorry about the inconvenience.

cool bananas ... greg
 
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Reply #1 - Jan 31st, 2012 at 9:48am

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Hi Peoples, just got back from another trip out towards Central Australia and its time to show off my photos ... Wink

My old friend and I travelled out to Sturt's Stony Desert. Sturt was the first white explorer to travel to inland Australia.
He believed there was an inland sea in the heart of Australia. He was right, but he was 60 million years too late.

His expedition party suffered great hardship and the second in command, Poole, died. They were trapped for 6-7 months
in Sturt's Stony Desert, unable to break away from a single remaining billabong (a waterhole in a dry creek bed), and the
billabong was drying out.

Here is some of their story.

The Stony Desert is covered in vast Gibber plains. Gibber is the Aboriginal word for 'fist sized throwing rock'.
Animals will not walk on these plains unless forced, and to walk one or two kilometres is agony, I tried it.

Quote:
=Sturt's Diary:  The horses were limping and the stones wore down the hooves of the cattle and the sheep.


...

In the stony desert, where there are no gibber plains there are just bigger stones. If you find a place to stand where there
are no stones at all, then there are Bullock Head Burrs. These are small seed pods with 5-6 hypodermic needle points
sticking out, and due to the wonders of evolution in miniature, which ever way they land they always have one needle
sticking straight up. Their motto is simple ... 'I may be here a long time, and nothing may happen, but if it does I'm ready'.

They can drive up to 10mm into you and they inject a toxin that stings and the next day causes your arm or leg to throb.
If your not careful when you pull them out the tips break off and the toxin works for days. (This is evolution at its most
amazing. No doubt the animal picks up the burr, and after a while the toxin can be felt and the animal tries to scrub it off.
It falls in a new animal feeding ground. The seed pod has achieved its aim)

So, all in all, Sturt's stony desert is not right up there with the top tourists spots like Ayer's rock and the Tananmi.

Into this desert Sturt took the following:

Quote:
=Charles Sturt's Diary....so that the expedition was now complete, and mustered in its full force for the first time, and consisted as follows of officers, men, and animals:--

   Captain Sturt, LEADER.
   Mr. James Poole, ASSISTANT.
   Mr. John Harris Browne, SURGEON.
   Mr. M'Dougate Stuart, DRAFTSMAN.
   Mr. Louis Piesse, STOREKEEPER.
   Daniel Brock, COLLECTOR.
   George Davenport,  Joseph Cowley, SERVANTS
   Robert Flood, STOCKMAN.
   David Morgan, WITH HORSES.
   Hugh Foulkes, John Jones,  Turpin,  BULLOCK DRIVERS
   William Lewis, SAILOR
   John Mack, John Kerby, WITH SHEEP.

11 horses; 30 bullocks; 1 boat and boat carriage; 1 horse dray; 1 spring cart; 3 drays. 200 sheep; 4 kangaroo dogs; 2 sheep dogs.


Some of these men were colonial prisoners of the Crown, earning their freedom. Please note the boat. Mad dogs and Englishmen go
out in the noonday Sun. This party took a boat, weighing near a tonne, into the heart of the driest continent on earth in the
hope of sailing on an inland sea !!


Quote:
=Sturt's Diary.....which I had vainly hoped would have
ploughed the waters of a central sea.


The rest of their tale is heart wrenching. They were hard tough men but they were in a desperate situation, attacked by
scurvy, and in temperatures that reached 57 C (135 F). The thermometers burst. The last billabong on Preservation creek
was evaporating. They had to keep their candles and ink buried in the creek bank to prevent them evaporating.

Quote:
=Sturt's Diary .... I had violent headaches, unusual pains in my joints, and a coppery taste in my mouth.These symptoms
I attributed to having slept so frequently on the hard ground and in the beds of creeks, and it was only when my mouth
became sore, and my gums spongy, that I felt it necessary to trouble Mr. Browne, who at once told me that I was labouring
under an attack of scurvy, and I regretted to learn from him that both he and Mr. Poole were similarly affected, but they
hoped I had hitherto escaped.

We regretted to find that Mr. Poole was seriously indisposed. His muscles were now attacked and he was suffering great
pain,

Mr. Poole had gradually become worse and worse, and was now wholly confined to his bed, unable to stir, a melancholy
affliction both to himself and us, rendering our detention in that gloomy region still more painful.

Mr. Poole became worse, all his skin along the muscles turned black, and large pieces of spongy flesh hung from the roof of
his mouth, which was in such a state that he could hardly eat.


As Poole became worse it was determined to send a return party to Adelaide, at whatever cost or Poole would die. But the
return party had not gone far when Poole died.

Quote:
=Sturt's Diary... About seven o'clock p.m. we were surprised by the sudden return of Joseph, from the home
returning party; but, still more so at the melancholy nature of the information he had to communicate. Mr. Poole, he
said, had breathed his last at three o'clock. ..... About a quarter before three he had risen to take some medicine, but
suddenly observed to Joseph that he thought he was dying, and falling on his back, expired without a struggle.

On the 17th the whole party, which had so lately separated, once more assembled at the Depot. We buried Mr. Poole
under a Grevillia that stood close to our underground room;  
his initials, and the year, are cut in it above the grave, "J. P. 1845," and he now sleeps in the desert.


...


...
 
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Reply #2 - Jan 31st, 2012 at 9:49am

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Quote:
=Sturt's Diary... we pitched our tents at the place to which I have led him, and which I shall henceforth call the
"Depot," on the 27th of January, 1845. They were not struck again until the 17th of July following.

This ruinous detention paralyzed the efforts and enervated the strength of the expedition, by constitutionally affecting both
the men and animals, and depriving them of the elasticity and energy with which they commenced their labours. It was not
however until after we had run down every creek in our neighbourhood, and had traversed the country in every
direction, that the truth flashed across my mind, and it became evident to me, that we were locked up in the desolate
and heated region, into which we had penetrated, as effectually as if we had wintered at the Pole.


It was long indeed ere I could bring myself to believe that so great a misfortune had overtaken us, but so it was.
Providence had, in its allwise purposes, guided us to the only spot, in that wide-spread desert, where our wants could have
been permanently supplied, but had there stayed our further progress into a region that almost appears to be forbidden
ground.





This is 'Depot Glen', the Billabong where Sturt and his men were trapped.

...

...

Below is a picture of the last Billabong, currently dry.

Quote:
=Sturt's Diary ... On the 10th, to give a change to the current of my thoughts, and for exercise, I walked down the
Depot creek with Mr. Browne, and turning northwards up the main branch when we reached the junction of the two
creeks, we continued our ramble for two or three miles. I
know not why it was, that, on this occasion more than any
other, we should have contemplated the scene around us, unless it was that the peculiar tranquillity of the moment made
a greater impression on our minds.

Perhaps the death-like silence of the scene at that moment led us to reflect, whilst gazing on the ravages made by the floods,
how fearfully that silence must sometimes be broken by the roar of waters and of winds
. Here, as in other places, we
observed the trunks of trees swept down from the hills, lodged high in the branches of the trees in the neighbourhood
of the creek, and large accumulations of rubbish lying at their butts, whilst the line of inundation extended so far into the
plains that the country must on such occasions have the
appearance of an inland sea. The winds on the other hand had stripped the bark from the trees to windward (a little to the
south of west), as if it had been shaved off with an instrument, but during our stay at the Depot we had not
experienced any unusual visitation, as a flood really would have been; for any torrent, such as that which it was evident
sometimes swells the creek, would have swept us from our ground, since the marks of inundation reached more than
a mile beyond our encampment, and the trunk of a large gum-tree was jambed between the branches of one
overhanging the creek near us at an altitude exceeding the
height of our tents.



...
 
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Reply #3 - Jan 31st, 2012 at 9:50am

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Sturt's Stony Desert


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Reply #4 - Jan 31st, 2012 at 9:51am

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But Sturt's Stony Desert also has its softer side. These are some photos taken at Sunset and Sunrise.
 
 
Sturt's Stony Desert

 
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Reply #5 - Jan 31st, 2012 at 9:52am

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Sturt's Stony Desert

 
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Reply #6 - Jan 31st, 2012 at 9:52am

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In some of these photos Roos can be seen feeding on Saltbush.
   
   
Sturt's Stony Desert

   
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Reply #7 - Jan 31st, 2012 at 9:54am

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Campfire photos.
   
   
Sturt's Stony Desert

   
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    Below, the 'Warri Warri' Gates. The far western border between QLD and NSW and also part
    of the 5,400 KLM long Dingo Fence. The longest fence in the world.
   
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    Below, Roscoe searching for Gold ... lol
   
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    Hope you enjoyed. Sorry about the slow loading time. Was it worth it ?
   
    cool bananas ... greg
 
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Reply #8 - Jan 31st, 2012 at 9:55am

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The computer in our car was telling us we had a serious engine fault, a duststorm was racing up behind us.

We found the fault, fixed it, and raced to Milparinka ( a one pub town, and nothing else except a closed courthouse) just ahead of the storm.

The AFL Grand Final was on in Melbourne ... hence the crowd ... lol


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We bought a bottle of Bundy at the Milparinka pub, and that night we got pissed at the camp .... lol



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maybe that was stoned as well .... lol



cool bananas ... greg
 
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Reply #9 - Jan 31st, 2012 at 12:25pm

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Well done Greg.  Couldn't open this on my iPad and on the main PC she took quite a while so hope others can get a look as they are amazing photos.

Amazed that you did it in the Falcon wagon as well.


Derek
 

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