Travelling Australia - Journal 2015c
|30 May - 1 June 2015
Warrawong-on-the-Darling is a caravan park just outside Wilcannia on a sheep station. The property is reached by a short (few hundred metres) good gravel road. This is a newly established park with grassed sites and excellent amenities; there are an estimated thirty sites (powered and unpowered).
Much of the property is on the Darling River floodplain. The caravan park area of the property is on a natural island reported to be above flood level; the access road is also reported to be above flood level. The property has several kilometres of frontage on the Darling River which has mostly high and steep banks but with some lower level access suitable for fisherpeople.
But the centrepiece of Warrawong-on-the-Darling is undoubtedly the billabong beside the caravan park. The billabong is U-shaped in plan a few kilometers in length and width. Levee banks isolate the billabong from the Darling River. Levees are across the top of the U formed by the billabong. When river levels permit, water is pumped out of the river over the levee bank near the caravan park and into the billabong where the water level rises perceptibly and slowly. When the river floods the billabong is flooded and the water level topped up. Provided the river level is adequate the level of the billabong is maintained as an excellent natural resource supporting birds, fish and native animals. Fishing and setting yabbie nets are recognised activities for people staying at the caravan park.
Alongside the river bank and around much of the billabong is black clay which turns to slippery mud after rain. Black clay extends over the central part of the 'U' and between the two arms of the billabong. Further back from the river, still alongside the billabong, the ground is red sandy-clay which is less affected by rain. Rain and wet clay were to be major factors in our activities.
On the 29th (the day we arrived) I went walking around the billabong in cloudy-sunny weather. There were many vehicle tracks but the surface was extremely slippery and even walking without slipping over was a challenge.
Next day (30th May) it rained all day and everybody stayed in their vans (or tents if they were campers), tracks in the caravan area got muddy with pools of water to be stepped over.
30 May - 1 June 2015 - Warrawong-on-the-Darling, page 2
The 31st of May began cloudy and it looked as if we were in for more rain but the cloud cleared to the east leaving a clear blue sky and bright sunshine for several hours. When a bank of cloud arrived from the west it broke up over us leaving scattered cloud, lots of blue sky and plenty of sunshine. I went walking in the central part of the U between billabong arms; this is all floodplain with scattered timber and very little undergrowth. The black clay was drying out but my boots were still caked with clay when I returned.
On the 1st June the sun shone brightly and the sky was mostly blue but a bitterly cold wind blew nearly all day. I went walking in the central part of the billabong to resolve some bird identification questions and found the clay was drier and firmer although whether a vehicle could negotiate the tracks was unclear. The few people there were walking and nobody tried to drive.