Travelling Australia - Journal 2006
20 April 2006 - Berri to Burra via Morgan

location map We drove from Berri in the Riverland along a secondary road north of the Murray River to the former river port of Morgan which now has little to recommend it except the historical association. Some older buildings made of the local honey-coloured stone are quite attractive; other stone buildings have been painted nondescript white. The GPS records the Murray River at Morgan as sea-level giving very little fall through the several hundred kilometres to the sea; no wonder it's sluggish.

At the edge of Morgan we passed the pumping station at the beginning of the Morgan-Whyalla pipeline and saw a pair of large pipes stretching to the horizon. This is one of several pipelines taking water from the Murray River to Adelaide, Port Augusta, Whyalla and Woomera. Under good conditions water from the Murray provides 40 per cent of the water requirements of these centres; in drought conditions Murray water provides up to 90 per cent of their water.

Morgan is the site of benchmark readings for salinity in the Murray River. The Murray-Darling Basin Commission has established the target for water taken from the Murray to be below World Health Organisation upper limit recommendations for drinking water and monitors sailinity at Morgan against that goal.
Warehouse at Morgan Warehouse built to serve Morgan's thriving river traffic in the nineteenth century.
Morgan wharf Remains of the much longer river wharf at Morgan once used to tranship freight from river traffic to railways for Adelaide.
Stone building One of many stone buildings in Morgan built in more prosperous days. Many have been painted a graceless white while a few show the native stone finish to advantage.
Leaving Morgan we headed north away from the Murray River bound for Burra. Shortly before reaching Morgan we had passed out of mallee scrub vegetation into bluebush and saltbush scrub and this was the dominant vegetation north of Morgan on the road to Burra. The road began climbing gently, so gently that at first it needed GPS elevation readings to show the increasing elevation. Eventually we reached 470 metres elevation at Burra north of Adelaide in the eastern foothills of the Flinders Ranges. Bluebush/ saltbush scrub is excellent sheep country but there is insufficient rain in normal years to grow wheat. In about 1880 there was a succession of high rainfall years and many settlers moved in to grow crops; when the rainfall reverted to normal they failed leaving behind the ruins of the stone houses they had optimistically built.
Pastoral property Pastoral property north of Morgan and away from the influence of the Murray River. The building is the shearing shed.
Ruined farmhouse Many settlers were deceived by a few good years into taking up land when the long-term rainfall was inadequate for successful farming. These solid stone houses remain as their memorials.
After setting up in Burra we went to the lookout over the former open cut copper mine which was the mainstay of South Australia's economy before Federation. The wind was strong and bitter making it difficult to stay out in the open. At about sunset light rain fell briefly; light rain has been around during the afternoon but the main rainfall crossing South Australia appeared to be concentrated to the south of us.
Wallaby Kangaroo in a hurry near Burra.
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