Saturday, October 6, 2012

Major Mitchell's Campsite 1846 - 2012

From a raging torrent in February 2012 (that flooded 80 per cent of homes in Mitchell), the Maranoa River at the Major Mitchell Campsite is a clear bubbling stream that meanders towards Mitchell from Mount Moffat in the Carnarvon Ranges.  Pieces of petrified tree trunk nestle amongst banks of rounded pebbles and stones, polished smooth by the action of water, sand and rock -- over millions of years.  

I never could resist picking up interesting stones, consequently it wasn't long before I had several pieces of heavy petrified wood clutched in my hand.  My mind backtracked several million years to a tree growing way before the Age of Dinosaurs.  Their heaviness and distinctive bands of colour marked them as special.

We saw evidence of feral pigs (with piglets) on the sandy bank where they'd been rooting around.  A dozen or so cattle grazed the herbage.  No other human's footprint or presence spoiled the tranquillity of this special place.  We had an outback wilderness to ourselves.  And what a privilege it was soak in this ancient place.

On our way back home to Mitchell we stopped at the top of Orchard Hill where grevilleas (Grevillea juncifolia) and sticky hop bushes (Dodonaea viscosa) are in full flower. Although this grevillea species is a poor-looking straggly plant, it has amazing flowers. Only a month ago this hillside was ablaze with golden wattles (acacias). Now these same trees are dripping long green pods, ripe with seed.

The fence posts in the photo show the activity of termites (white ants).  Thankfully our home is constructed of native cypress pine: a timber that's termite resistant.

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