5 – 13 May

Wednesday 5th

Lovely morning around camp,

Wandering amongst and photographing giant Trees. So many canoe and utensil scars from Aboriginal times.

Set off at midday towards Balranald. As always, the dirt road, keeping as near as possible to the River- now the Murrumbidgee.

Stayed again at Balranald caravan Park- enjoying the access to Power, etc.

Thurs 6th

Trying desperately to get on top of sorting Photos, Maps, reading, writing, drawing, washing, etc!! Overnight visit from Gazbo and Rabbit Dog.

Friday 7th

Catching up with Balranald people, Kathy at Tourist info centre etc.

When I heard that Castlemaine is only 3 1/2 hours drive away, I nearly weakened and popped home for the weekend! Instead I headed north, out the Ivanhoe rd, to visit ‘uncle Phil’ at the Homebush Hotel.

I thought Booligal was colourful! Phil is such a character, and his Pub completely out of this world. Spent the weekend meeting shearers, timbercutters, charcoal burners, farmers, etc. As well as doing some drawing and painting.

Visit to Paika on the Sat to meet family there

Felt completely at home, camped down in the campground, and hanging out with Phil, etc.

Monday 10th

Headed all of 8 km south to Paika.

Met with Di, Rachael, Duf, etc. What a lovey family: sweet Helina 3 years old, baby Aarchie 5 weeks, Paul the dad. Etc.

Camped my van near the restored Shearers quarters. But spent much of the time at the house with Di, etc.

Tues 11th

Morning with Di and Helina, ‘starting the pump’ over at the River, Archies swamp, etc.

And arvo drawing/ painting with  Helina.

Dinner at the house again, with Phil, Di, Duf. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Great people, beautiful historic old home, and warm welcome for the Expeditioner.

As well, we think the lake on their property, now dry as are most of the lakes, due to channels, etc over the years. Mitchell documented it ‘weromba’ as was the Aboriginal name, and has been mentioned by Hobler.

Wed 12th

Caught up with Rachael, before heading back to Balranald, and then on towards lake Benanee. Saw an interesting rd, which I followed to Tillara Station, and a wonderful campsite, in an amazing area which Mitchell describes in his journal. (May 19/20)

Meandering dry Lagoons, which would fill with water in good years. Amazing old Trees, many with scars from canoes etc. And remains of Earth Ovens Everywhere. Possibly even a burial site, which I have documented and will check with the experts.

8 weeks today, on the road with TL Mitchell.

My Expedition has turned into a great Adventure with my dog, as well as a historical re-tracing of his journey. The country, all previously unknown to me, holds so many stories, and I want to understand it all: the explorers, settlers, graziers ,timbercutters, etc. But more importantly, to understand the Indigenous Story.

ie: by taking their grinding stones, the explorers and settlers  instantly deprived the Aborigines of a major means of living: their ability to grind seads , bulrushes, etc, which formed the basis of their diet.  There are no rocks or stones in this country, so they would have come from afar, probably traded with other resources.

The number of ovens and middens everywhere here, indicates long occupation, and probably large numbers, especially during ceremonial gatherings, when the numbers may have been quite large.

So many questions.

-especially from reading Mitchell, and his ‘take’ on things. Ie: theft of the canoe from Cudjillagong. The inclusion of Aboriginal woman and child in the Party. Where they to make it look less threatening- to help collect food, vegetables, etc? Was Tarandurry Mitchells mistress? As Balandella saw Mitchell ‘majy’as father figure.

Thurs 13th

Walks in the morning and afternoon, exploring, and taking photos! So beautiful- the huge pre-colonial trees, etc.

Too many photos! Big job daily to download, sort, etc. and I still haven’t managed to get any up on the site!!

Again managed to get out the art materials, and get into some drawing!!