Murray Meander

We left on Friday to the Murray Mallee via the central Mt Lofty Ranges. We had a short coach tour of Mt Torrens township, and morning tea at Mt Pleasant. Cooke’s Hill, provided an expansive view east over the Murray Flats towards the Murray Mallee and was used to introduce members to the physical character of the Mallee region. Sedan was toured and lunch at Swan Reach. In the afternoon we entered the heart of the northern Murray Mallee to see sites connected with Aboriginal occupation, late nineteenth century pastoral settlement and farming development from the early twentieth century onwards. Highlights included an inspection of Nildottie Well and afternoon tea with members of the local farming community at Mantung. Dinner and overnight accommodation was at the Loxton Community Hotel Motel. On Saturday we travelled south through climatically marginal cereal growing country, and heard about some of the hardships in developing farming, particularly through the depression years of the 1930s. After a short stop near Peebinga to look at an Aboriginal occupation site at a freshwater soak, we reached Pinnaroo for morning tea and a visit to the Tourist and Heritage Centre. Lunch was at the nearby Pinnaroo Bakery and we then headed east into Victoria to Cowangie, the site of the remarkable Kow Plains Homestead – a recently restored pastoral complex dating from 1879. After returning to Pinnaroo the tour turned south, with a short walk at Pertendi Hut to look out over some of the mallee and heath covered dunes and flats of the Ngarkat complex of conservation parks. Overnight accommodation was at Dukes Motor Inn Bordertown and dinner at the historic Mundulla Hotel. On Sunday we had a coach tour of local historical features and an inspection of Clayton Farm where we had morning tea. Then to Keith where the AMP land development scheme of the 1950s was discussed. Lunch was at Keith’s Henry and Rose Restaurant. During the afternoon return to Adelaide, we had an on-board commentary about the Gold Escort Route of the 1850s, Murray Darling Basin salinity problems around Cooke’s Plains and the impact of early mining on the woodlands of the eastern Mt Lofty Ranges. The tour was conceived, researched and led by BHS member Colin Harris, with comprehensive notes provided for all sites visited. Logistics and general trip administration were looked after by BHS Vice President Peter Davies.