|Travelling Australia - Journal 2008b|
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|2 July 2008 - Port Augusta to nr Morgan|
The worst of the cold spell appeared to be over on a not-so-cold morning. We connected the Eurostar and Territory easily on the large site and moved off at 9:20. The site was under a very large she-oak which had dropped into the windscreen which was very clean last night after yesterday's rain; but I had to stop and clean the windscreen before we left the park.
We drove through Port Augusta and along the A1 towards Adelaide turning off the A1 at Crystal Brook to cross over the hills to Burra and Morgan. Traffic was surprisingly light. Weather was initally quite good for travelling, no wind and some cloud. But light rain began falling just after we drove through Crystal Brook and was quite heavy by the time we passed through Gulnare and Spaulding. From Spaulding the road was accompanied some of the way by two large water pipes carrying water from the Murray.
After Spaulding there was a subtle change in the landscape. From around Crystal Brook we had been driving through extensive paddocks of green, newly germinated crops with patches of remnant mallee. After Spaulding (elevation 484 metres) the road to Burra continued climbing gently, to reach highest elevation of 547 metres before Burra, while the terrain changed to be far more open, with far fewer trees. This was still cropland but not as intensive as before, with some sheep and now scattered windmills.
Birds increased as we moved eastwards, especially after Spaulding when the rain stopped and the sky cleared. Flocks of 100-200 pink galahs were feeding in paddocks; one flock settled on the road ahead of us and covering the bitumen from side to side, fortunately they squawked away before we got to them. Earlier, a small flock of parrots or rosellas flew just ahead of the car for minute or so. But the more widespread birds were hawks, or a related species - we saw 8 or 9 birds hovering, flying or perched on trees. Crows remained common but there were also a number of coughs which look a bit like crows at a distance but have large white patches under their wings only visible in flight.
Our route joined the Barrier Highway for a short distance before reaching Burra. The highway itself bypassed Burra but we needed petrol so went into the town and returned to the highway by a minor road. Burra is at an elevation of 470 metres on the eastern side of the hills and the road steadily descends to Morgan on the Murray River from Burra. The land degrades on this eastern slope; by 11 kilometres from Burra cleared paddocks had large areas of weedy growths and a few kilometres later bluebush and some mallee appeared. There were still a few large cleared paddocks but the grass growing in them was dead-looking. There were some sheep grazing but fairly soon the sheep and cleared paddocks were left behind leaving mallee, she-oaks, bluebush and saltbush covering the land.
|Bluebush provides scattered ground-cover beside the Boulia-Morgan road.|
|Approaching Morgan we turned outside the town onto the road to Renmark. We had visited Morgan previously outside the tourist season and did not wish to repeat the experience. We stopped for the night at a gravel storage area about 13 kilometres from Morgan on the Morgan-Renmark road.|