On the first day people are unsure what to do re loading the camels and the camels are resistant to being loaded up with food, water, clothes and bedding. It gets easier each day as the camels settle down and we learn the loading and unloading ropes.
We walked through Angorichina Station east of Blinman across 1st plain (running north south) that was full of weeds and had no topsoil. There was very little saltbush or blue bush. The water would just run off the rocky surface. Land degradation is the result of historical overgrazing by the pastoralists since the 1850s.
The land was dry in spite of the monsoonal rain in January. There had been little to no follow up rains and so the long drought hadn’t broken. It appeared to be a continuation of the drought that we experienced in 2018 on the Mt Hopeless camel trek.
We passed the ruins of a Chinese market garden which had supplied fresh vegetables to those living in the town and working at the Blinman mine. Ryan pointed out Glenview as we crossed 1st plain: it had been built for cropping the land: — wheat and hay for the camels and bullocks transporting the ore from the Blinman mine to the Parachilna railway station on the Great Northern Railway in the late 1870s/early 1880s. The land was surveyed but the rains didn’t come.
There is not much water in this part of the Flinders Ranges. When we walked along Gum Creek it was dry. There were no water holes. If the lack of water destroyed the settler’s dreams in the 19th century, then a decade long drought is now the new normal. Angorichina Station had been de-stocked.
We walked around 9.5 kilometres that day heading north east. We camped on 2nd plain that night. Ryan mentioned how the pastoralists are waiting for a good year–ie., lots of rain– then they will sell up. The good years, it would seem, are few and far between. Tourism has passed pastoralism in generating income in the early 21st century.
I presumed that we would see little cattle or sheep grazing, given the drought, and probably lots of signs of feral goats, rabbits and donkeys whilst on the trek to Lake Frome.