Sturt …

At Cameron Corner it would be possible, if you can bend it like Beckham, to stand in South Australia and kick a ball slightly east of north that traveled into New South Wales, crossed into Queensland and then curved west back into South Australia. Or you could just have a beer at the Corner Store, a pub standing all alone in the desert.

When you cross the border into New South Wales you enter the Sturt National Park.

Charles Sturt left Adelaide in August 1844, travelled north to the Murray River, followed it to the junction with the Darling and then followed that north east. When he left the river it was to head north to Lake Cawndilla, close to modern day Menindee subsequently made famous by Burke and Wills. Sturt thought the river banks would suit graziers well and was proven right quite soon after his return.

From there the going became a lot tougher. His party made progress by scouting ahead until a suitable body of water was found and then taking up the main party with its livestock. Eventually they reached “a romantic rocky glen of basalt” on which Sturt bestowed the unromantic name of Depot Glen. The country was drying out quickly in the heat of an unusually dry summer. The water behind them was gone and there was none to be found ahead. They were obliged to stay put for six months. Exploratory trips were made and, knowing that the devil finds work for idle hands, Sturt had the men build a cairn on a nearby hill. Mr Poole died of scurvy at the Glen. The cairn became his memorial and the hill is now Mt Poole.

When the rains came Sturt took some of the stronger men and continued north west. He established a second depot in a spot that he called the Park. He left men here with instruction to build a stockade and a stock yard. Sturt made three sorties from here discovering and naming Cooper’s Creek on one, and penetrating into the heart of the Simpson desert on another. He had given instruction to David Morgan “to prepare and paint the boat in the event of her being required.” She was never required.

The stockade became known as Fort Grey, it stands by Lake Pinaroo which fills about once a decade and holds water for a few years. It provided Sturt with good feed for his livestock. It was our campsite for a night. These days it is grazed by Red Kangaroos …

Lake Pinaroo

But for some years graziers eked a living out of the land here. This steam engine brought water up from a bore out on the lake bed …

Bore head

A Central Netted Dragon visited us in the camp site …

Central Netted Dragon

Sturt was one of Australia’s finest explorers. As well as a national park he has a university named after him (from which I have a graduate diploma in ornithology) and Sturt’s Desert Pea.

Desert Pea

and this fine example made quite a splash …

Desert pee

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