Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
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12 July 2012 - Bordertown to Pinnaroo
We heard steady rain on the caravan roof all night. I had connected Pathfinder and caravan last night but I began to expect I would be packing up water and electricity connections wearing wet weather gear. But the rain had stopped by morning and a reasonably dry day looked likely.

Today's destination was Pinnaroo with a planned stop around lunchtime at Pertendi Hut in the Ngarkat Conservation Park (Ngarkat is pronounced with a silent G as Narkat). Pertendi Hut was one of the few sites in the conservation area claimed to be suitable for a caravan and we wanted to check it out. To get to Pinnaroo we planned to leave Bordertown on the Duke Highway (the highway to Adelaide) then turn along the Pinnaroo Bordertown Road (the B57) which passes through the Conservation Area.

The Duke Highway was very quiet with hardly any traffic and the Pinnaroo Bordertown Road had even less traffic. In the 50 to 60 kilometres we drove to reach the Conservation Park we passed one tractor, three B-doubles and two or three sedans going the other way; fewer vehicles overtook us. The road was classed as a B road but was variable in quality; for much of the time to Ngarkat the surface was good but occasionally we came to a poor section and had to slow to 70 kph.

Between Bordertown and Ngarkat the road runs through cleared farmland with sheep and cattle grazing or crops being grown. Land use was less intensive than we had seen between Narracoorte and Bordertown a couple of days ago; there were far fewer animals grazing, many paddocks appeared to be resting and a lot of native vegetation remained. The striking green seen from the road south of Bordertown did not continue. Centre pivot irrigation sprays were not uncommon; presumably they use artesian water since there is no natural drainage and we didn't see any dams. The soil was fairly sandy by now.

This stretch of road from Bordertown to Ngarkat passed a fundamental change in vegetation. River red gums had dominated the scenery around Bordertown with their single vertical trunks to a metre across and characteristic branch shape; they were completely replaced by mallee eucalyptus with several trunks (four or five usually) growing at an angle from a central point. Mallee trees grow to a much lower height than a fully developed river red gum. At first, river red gums were common on paddocks along the road with mallee widespread in the roadside reservations; then mallee appeared along paddock boundaries before spreading across paddocks. A mix of river red gums and mallee prevailed for a while then the river red gums were completely replaced by mallee. As the road approached the conservation park (the boundary was 66 kilometres from Bordertown) farming activity faded away so there wasn't a sharp vegetation change at the boundary.

Pertendi Hut is advertised as not only suitable for caravans but also for 2WD vehicles; it is reached via a short gravel road from the bitumen of the Bordertown Pinaroo Road. We drove into the caravan area and I reversed into one of the three caravan bays. These bays were gravelled and easily large enough for caravan and awning; they are designed for self-contained caravans with their own water and power or for camper-trailers which are equally independent.
Ngarkat Conservation Park
Vegetation in part of Ngarkat Conservation Park.
We had a cup of coffee before I went wandering around the area looking at plants until after lunch. Mallee dominated in some parts while other parts had a mixture of shrubs and trees. Some she-oaks and cypress, which usually grow into trees many metres tall, were stunted shrubs less than two metres high. Except for some eucalyptus, most vegetation was stunted reflecting the poor quality of the soil (and possibly low rainfall).

Then we drove out to the road and set off for Pinnaroo; we had confirmed that Pertendi Hut had caravan parking areas, there were three formal ones with the possibility that a van could be squeezed into other parts, or could possibly double-up in one of the three areas.

The road from Ngarkat to Pinnaroo was memorable. Still the B57 and two-lanes of bitumen the surface varied from good with 80 kph comfortable to rutted and poor; we have driven on many gravel roads with a better surface than parts of the B57. On several occasions our speed was down to 50 kph to avoid damage to the caravan towing gear. One roadside sign warned of an "Undulating Surface" for the next few kilometres; that was an understatement.

In Pinnaroo we turned into the caravan park which does not have a manned office. We set up on an empty site and the $20 for the night was collected just after dark. Later on a thunderstorm passed over but it was mainly noise (thunder) with a very heavy shower of large raindrops which were so noisy on the van roof I thought they were hail. The storm was followed by continuous rain for an hour to two.

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