After leaving camp we walked in Chambers Creek. It was hard walking in the sand and over the rocks — a slog. We had lunch in the creek bed next to a river gum by Pauls Outstation by the Yunta -Arkaroola Rd. where we got fresh water. Ryan talked at length to a station hand from Wertaloona Station.
A native apricot tree (Pittosporum angustifolium) was nearby. Wertaloona Station is a vast property of 2549 square kilometres and sits on the edge of Lake Frome and the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park. It was established as a pastoral lease in the 1850s when the policy was to make the colony an agricultural paradise. The crippling drought of the 1860s ruined many of the early pastoralists whilst the colonial government cutting up of the leased land into farming blocks forced the pastoralists to move further north into the arid land. The good seasons of the 1870s were followed by drought in the 1880s. It is a familiar pattern and many didn’t survive and the land was ruined.
We walked about 16.4 kilometres that day. There were plenty of donkey droppings, but no donkeys were seen. Cattle were grazing on the plain. Ryan carried my pack on the last leg which made walking easier for me. Mt McKinley and the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges were to our right as we looked back from where we’d walked.
I’d never been to these ranges or to Arkaroola. We would be walking the various trails in these ranges under the auspices of the Retire Active SA Bushwalkers in a couple of months. We would stay at the shearers quarters at Balcanoona Station, which was now the headquarters of the national park.
We camped on the plain amongst the salt bush that night. Lake Frome beckoned. The plan was simple: we would reach the edges of the lake the next day, camp there overnight, then walk back across the plain to our pickup location on the following day. This was passed the remains of the old dog fence.