Not long back from a week traveling on a motorbike (ATV or quadbike) in outback South Australia, following the great Australian explorer, John McDouall Stuart.
I was hoping to find and camp in Stuart’s camping spot at the Elizabeth, using the bearing he gave from Bottle Hill to the trees in the Elizabeth.
The sun was set by the time I had a rough camp set up and the fire going.
It was mid afternoon by the time I got the trailer assembled and packed and set off from Arcoona Homestead. By the time I reached the general area of Stuart’s camp it was approaching sunset.
A fence line headed the direction that I thought Stuart’s camp was, so I followed it till I met a creek and camped pretty rough under a blue polly tarp, draped over a rope tied at one end to the ATV and the other to a few rocks. By the time the fire was going using debris from the creek bed, it was about dark.
Cheery campfire to cook a feed, boil up the billy for a cuppa and scare of the unknown.
Managed a feed of canned meet and veggies. Ate it straight out of the billy with a spoon. Saves washing up. Water is scarce. No water in the creek, of course.
Up, out of bed bright and early as daylight approached and along the creek photographing the river redgums that populate some of these arid region creeks. It was these trees that John McDuall Stuart saw from Bottle Hill, indicating the presence of the creek.
Friday, 18th June, The Elizabeth. We must rest our horses to-day, they have not yet recovered from their long thirst. I am quite disappointed with this creek and the surrounding country. The water is not permanent, it is only rain water; since we arrived yesterday it has shrunk a great deal. There are small plains on each side from a quarter to half a mile broad with salt bush; the hills are very stony with a little salt bush, and destitute of timber, except the few gum-trees in the creek and the mulga bushes in the sand hills.
A rough camp set up with a blue polly tarp, near the site of John McDouall Stuart’s camp at the Elizabeth. Phbotographed under a threatening sky at daybreak.
On returning to my base at the mining town of Roxby Downs, a check of the GPS coordinates against the map indicated that my camping spot was on Gum Creek, about three killometres north west of where I wanted to camp. Gum Creek runs into the Elizabeth about my intended destination.
After a feed I set off and found the area of John McDouall Stuart’s bearing from Bottle Hill. I think it’s unlikely that he camped just there because the country doesn’t match his description. It’s a wide, sandy plain stretching for miles in all directions.
River redgum in the bed of Gum Creek. Not the stately tree of some areas, but having great attraction to the wilderness photographer.
However, I think he camped five or ten killometres south of there, near a hilly range on the west side of Elizabeth Creek. The country matches Stuart’s description of the country where he camped. Several Killometres further south I came upon a salt water hole in the Elizabeth, a killometre or so long. There would be no good water below this point.
The Elizabeth Creek drains into Pernatty Lagoon which is a salt lake.