|Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
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|13 July 2012 - Pinnaroo to Kingston on Murray|
The overnight rain had gone by morning as we prepared to leave Pinnaroo. There had been a surprising number of trucks on the road passing the caravan park during the night. This is the road between Tailem Bend and Ouyen but we couldn't see any reason for so many truck movements. The day promised to be sunny with some cloud and no rain as we left Pinnaroo on the B57 road with Loxton as the immediate destination enroute for Kingston on Murray.
As soon as we were clear of Pinnaroo we were in extensive crop country. There was no sign of grazing animals, there were crop paddocks all around. Many paddocks looked as if they had been recently seeded, several showed germinating crops. Silos to store grain on-farm were reasonably common. Although there were no sheep or cattle in sight several paddocks had windmills with tanks to serve as watering points for stock if the farmer chose to run some.
The roadside reservations was native mallee scrub but many paddocks had been completely cleared sometimes leaving a perimeter line of trees. White-winged coughs were quite common running along the ground and feeding as they went; occasionally taking to flight (showing the white wing panels leading to their name) if running isn't fast enough for them. They tend to fly about half a metre off the ground which can cause problems when they fly across the road. White-winged coughs are fairly common birds but often over-looked; on this occasion there were so many groups they could not be missed. Apart from one or two ravens and a few magpies they were the only birds seen.
The sudden change from mixed grazing and cropping south of Pinnaroo to cropping as the only activity was striking; we began deliberately looking for grazing animals just to confirm the emphasis on crops and finally passed some sheep after driving 40 kilometres.
We stopped briefly at the village of Paruna for a cup of coffee in the caravan and had a look around the village. The boarded up general store near the abandoned Brown's Well Council office set the scene. The golf club closed in 2008 because of dwindling membership blamed on the drought and the District School closed in 2007. Population in the 2011 census was 198.
Paruna was slightly higher than the surrounding country and as the B57 left the Paruna turn-off we could see many kilometres to the north, east and west; it was all cropping land. The terrain was not flat but gently hilly reflecting underlying sand dunes; long and gentle hills meant the road gradually rose and fell with the land.
Although there were large tracts of cleared grazing land, native vegetation remained in some parts. Peebinga Conservation Park, south of Paruna, preserves more of the mallee vegetation than roadside reservations. Nevertheless, the overwhelming impression left on the traveller is of cleared cropland. The sheep and lamb feedlot we passed just before Loxton was a clear exception to this cropping dominance. We did not see a single head of cattle between Pinnaroo and Loxton.
About five kilometres from Loxton we entered the Riverland irrigation region and cropland was replaced by citrus, fruit trees and vinyards. The road from Pinnaroo had been quite good for most of the way with a poor section about seven kilometres long just outside Pinnaroo. Traffic had been very light in both directions; mainly sedans, two or three caravans going the other way, and one or two heavy transports. Weather had remained good for travelling.
From Loxton we followed the left bank of the Murray River to join the Sturt Highway (Route 20) west of Barmera and just before the turn-off into Kingston On Murray (the "On Murray" distinguishes this Kingston from the coastal Kingston which is officially known as Kingston South East or Kingston SE). Kingston On Murray is a very small settlement on the Murray River containing a caravan park, a general store, about a dozen houseboats secured to the bank of the Murray River (one of them for hire), and 20 to 30 houses. Vineyards extend to the edge of the house blocks. We checked in to the van park and set up on a site with a concrete slab which would be useful if forecast rain eventuated.
After lunch we drove along the Sturt Highway to Waikerie to have a look around. This is the main highway between Adelaide and Sydney; traffic, mainly sedans, was moving quite quickly on this good road and we were frequently passed. This road runs through a mixture of country with grapevines prominent.