The group gathered at Kiata campground at various stages during Sunday afternoon and evening. The last member arrived well after dark. The group consisted of Richard & Maria as overall leaders, Paul & Tineke and Phil & Gill as trainee leaders, happy to hone their skills, Murray & Judy , Graham V and Bill & Gill.

 

Day 1, 6 vehicles set off to explore the eastern end of the Little Desert. The pace was to be quite leisurely to enjoy all the desert had to offer, and we certainly did that. Within a few minutes we were amazed at the wild flowers along the side of the road and in the fields along side. There were sightings of kangaroos and emus but not the elusive Mallee fowl. Morning tea was beside a very unusual coloured white lake in the sunshine.

 

 

There were rain showers through the day and one came as we entered Dimboola. Monday is not the best day to visit this town as many shops were closed but whilst darting through the rain we entertained ourselves for 1/2 hr. The cold day enticed some of us into the pie shop and also some good finds were made in the antique shop. We then went out of town and found a beautiful spot along the Wimmera River for lunch and the sun came out for perfect timing.  After lunch we set off into more sand hills area and got some elevated views of the desert with more interesting flowers and shrubs. We did a short walk up Pomponderoo Hill with the Ranger’s notes of interesting things along the way. We also donned the sand flags to do some sandhills which added another element to our day.

 

We returned to camp having travelled 89 km. It was a very relaxed and pleasantly enjoyable day ably led by Paul and Tineke. In the early evening we were blessed with vivid rainbows but were driven to our tents soon after dinner by rain showers.

Little Desert Delights 2016
 
 
 
 

Day 2. Now for something completely different. We gathered for the briefing in brilliant blue sky but with news and photos of hail/ snow covered gardens in Donvale, and outages in Ballarat. We needed to meet in the sun to gain the best warmth on a freezing morning. The plan for this day was to explore the central area of the park and we needed to travel along the farms to enter the area from the north. We went past very interesting countryside. We enjoyed the knowledge of several members of the group about the crops grown in the fields. - Beans (for baked beans), triticale, also many more beautiful wild flowers /wild barley. Another interesting feature was the creative nature of the locals with wonderful letter boxes. A brightly painted train engine was the best exhibit.

 

 

We took some tracks that were very wet and Phil and Gill responsibly turned around on one occasion to be thoughtful of the farmers needs above ours. Another road was a dead end. Morning tea was on the track. We then set off, still heading towards the park but hit trouble with 4 of the 6 cars getting stuck in a quagmire. It was necessary to turn around but with water on and beside the road it took the collective skills and wisdom of everybody working together - vehicles, equipment/ man AND women power and fortunately the rain stayed away long enough for us to get back onto a dry track. An amazing team effort taking less than an hour in what seemed a very difficult situation. We stopped for lunch at 1.00 having just got on the edge of this part of the park at Broughton' s waterhole. A beautiful spot and again bathed in sunshine.

 
 
 
 
 

We set off after lunch full of optimism for an afternoon free of adventure to enjoy this part of the park. Oops not for long. A very long water hole across the road halted us in our tracks. This was tested by Tineke in gum boots and found to be hard enough underneath so we all got through no trouble. A few kms down the track Tineke again tested the ground in her ' dancing shoes'. A decision to have a go wasn't the best for this stretch of track. Bill & Gill, as second car were stuck in a hole in the middle of it. Again good equipment (a long winch and snatch strap) and fearless skill of waders got us out. Many photos were again taken. The one that summed up the situation was Tineke in gum boots and Gill L in bare feet.

 

Time had worked against us so the decision was taken to return to the highway and back to camp. Never a dull moment with

Phil and Gill leading, they kept us on the edge of our seats but a wonderful day of variety and more beauty. We had travelled 180 km. The evening was spent around an excellent fire made and maintained by our expert fire wardens.

 
 
 
 

Day 3 the day was planned by Richard and Maria to be an easier and shorter day. Moments after leaving camp a kangaroo with Joey was seen by some. We then did a walk to a trig point. It was further than advertised and so we didn't get to the end but enjoyed lots of lovely flowers, views and conversations.

 

Morning tea was on the road back at the cars. The track was thick sand but easy driving. We soon arrived at the lunch spot by a salt lake. On previous visits this has been walked on but today it was full of water and a pleasant sight. After this we were enthralled by many grass trees with their interesting flowers. They were plentiful and as far as the eye could see. All different shapes, sizes, colours and groupings - a photographer’s haven. We then travelled along the southern border noticing wattles in flower and stopped at Leah 's Well. This was surprisingly deep – applying the falling stone test!! As we turned back for camp the planned route had to be changed several times due to closed roads. A quick look at Dahlenburg's Mill before stopping at a path where there were very unusual orchids. 

 

 

We were greeted at the camp entrance by a large goanna – which decided to climb a tree when it saw all the vehicles approaching.  At 5.30 we set off again for Nhill and were again entertained by the local resident goanna in an artistic position on the tree. There was much good humoured merriment at a pub crawl in Nhill to find the only one of 3 that was open would serve food. It was dilapidated but we were happy to support the local business. The one that was booked over the phone we found had been closed for 2 years – apparently the phantom owner still answers the phone to take reservations!

 

 

Day 4 It was hard to crawl out of the snug sleeping bags on this brisk morning which had frost on the tents, following a brilliantly clear night, but a day of adventure enticed us out. We were just 5 cars heading out again to attempt a way into the central part of the park. We serenaded the Paul & Tineke before we left as we discovered we had 3 upcoming birthdays! 

 

We stopped at the marker to show a route for the gold escort. We then skirted around the boundary to find a route in that was open and passable. After morning tea on the roadside we had a walk to the crater. There were many viewings of wildlife.


 

 
 
 
 

 

Lunch was beside a very picturesque impassible bog on a track. We had made several attempts to find a way through. We were again thwarted by the McDonald highway having now attempted it from both ends. In the end we decided to travel back to camp. We passed by several roads we had travelled on in the morning but which looked totally different from the other direction. We passed through an area that had been burnt by a bush fire at some stage in the last 2 years and now with all the rain it was lush with the new growth in an array of different amazing colours. This trip was exactly 100 km. 

 

Two more vehicles had to head for Melbourne that afternoon after the trip so the remnants had an exclusive time around the fire. 

The whole trip was a wonderful experience and a great mix of good humour, perseverance, beautiful wild flowers and abundant wildlife. The collective knowledge shared was also a highlight. Thank you Richard and Maria for organizing the trip and introducing this gem to us.