West through the Station Country to S.A. and the Tarawi Nature and Chowilla Game Reserves

Tuesday, Sep 30, 2008 at 00:00

Mick O

30th September, 2008
Hancock Creek
Chowilla Game Reserve SA
33 56 3.06 S, 140 55 33.62 E


It was an early start into a beaut morning. A fire, a cuppa and a couple of jaffles for breakfast and then we picked our way out of our Anabranch camp site and back onto the track heading west. It wasn’t long before we came a cross the remains of an old trestle bridge, now in disrepair. Once past this we were on to the saltbush plains again following an assortment of tracks until we eventually reached a well maintained gravel road. This section matched nothing on our NatMaps. It was of very good quality and had obviously been built as part of the infrastructure to service the Bemax Company’s “Gingko” and “Snapper” mine projects some kilometres further east. We had heard the distant rumbling of large trucks during the night, the noise obviously travelling kilometres in the still night air. It wasn’t long before we passed several B-double side dumpers heading east, returning to the mine after delivering their load of mineral sands (limonite / zircon / leucoxene / rutile).

Continuing west, we arrived at the Silver City Highway turning left and heading south the few short kilometres to the Pine Camp- Springwood Road. Here we continued our track north towards the Scotia Sanctuary and Tarawi Nature Reserve. The road west was stony but in fair condition. We intended to head inland across the Tarawi on the old station tracks eventually climbing north into the expansive Dangali Reserve. Our well laid plans progressed well as we headed north off the main road soon locating Sandstone waterhole. The waterhole now supported a huge dam and bore, all dry. We surprised a mob of 30 or so goats as we drove in and soon located our track west towards Canegrass tank. This track was long unused and had the occasional rains had eaten washaways into to it in may places. The shrubbery had also taken hold forcing us into to the bush on many occasions. It wasn’t long before our well laid plans went awry. The Tarawi Reserve has been fenced in its entirety. All we could do was follow the boundary fence back south, crossing the Springwood Road and then around to the west, eventually arriving at the main gate. It appears that the Tarawi only allows transit access on the Springwood Road and is not open to travellers.

Thankfully our itinerary was somewhat fluid so in an ever evolving process, we decided to head south towards Belmore Station finding all routes west blocked by “No trespassing” signs. This eventually squeezed us back out onto the Springwood Road where we continued south to Warrakoo having a morning tea break by the road. Here again, the actual routes available, and those of the maps clashed. We veered south east and down to the old Wentworth-Renmark Road meeting the Old Renmark Road a short while later. On reaching the NSW-SA border, we investigated the cairn commemorating the “redetermination” of the actual border. This occurred in 1993 after it had been in the wrong spot for 123 years. I don’t know who got stiffed in the deal but it’s generally accepted that the border
now follows the 141° east meridian of Longitude to the north. From the border it was only 7.5 kilometres before we decided to have a look at the Chowilla Game reserve The track led in past Lake Umbra and eventually to the swiftly flowing Hancock Creek. We were impressed by the camp site and despite it being just after 2:00 p.m., decided to set up by the creek and enjoy the surroundings. I had noticed earlier in the day that the Engel fridge seemed to be having a hard time keeping things cool and my fears were confirmed, she appeared cactus. It was still getting power and the compressor appeared to be working, just a severe lack of cooling effect. Well that was going to cause some pain in keeping the beverages cold (not to mention the meat. Thankfully it was cryovaced.



We had an enjoyable afternoon with Hugh dipping the rod. The amount of water flowing was quite surprising. We saw a huge carp foraging in the shallows of the opposite bank. All I needed was a .22 to do some 'fishing'! In the later afternoon the roos came down to drink. We had a BBQ dinner and more than a few scotches. The highlight of the evening was Hugh levering himself out of his chair to answer the call of nature. Though we were a good few meters from the creek edge, I noticed Hugh had the staggers up so I said, to his retreating back…”Mate just watch out for that creek b……SPLASH”! Yep in he went. Thank goodness it wasn’t too deep as I was in no state to go in after him.



He did look very funny standing by the fire and trying to light a thoroughly soaked and drooping cigarette! Ever the bastard, I had my camera handy (& thankfully one of the seven shots I took turned out!).



''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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