Sydney Trip June 2011
On the second day of our trip home from Sydney earlier this year we stopped at the Malleefowl Rest Area. This is part way between Balranald in far western New South Wales and Mildura in north western Victoria. We were heading to Mildura where we had a cabin booked in one of the caravan parks for the night.
The rest area is set just off the highway in the midst of typical mallee country complete with saltbush, bluebush and spinifex. This open eucalypt scrubland is widespread in these parts of Australia, as well as large tracts of South Australia and Western Australia. I have a strong affinity with this type of bushland because the farm house I grew up on was set in the midst of some mallee scrub. And for the last twenty eight years I’ve had my own piece of mallee bush to live in.
I recently had occasion to visit the township of Pinnaroo in the mallee region of eastern South Australia. The main road by-passes most of the town, so visitors just passing through rarely get a chance to see much of this charming and thriving country town. On this occasion I had to deliver a parcel in the main street. It was the first time I could ever recall seeing more than just the outskirts of the town while driving through.
Pinnaroo is situated in the mallee regions of the state. Mallee is the generic name given to a wide range of eucalyptus trees common in the area. They are also found in other parts of SA, as well as large parts of Western Australia, Victoria and western NSW. Typical of the mallee tree are the multiple trunks stemming from a large root called a lignotuber. This is more commonly called a stump, and can range from the size of a football through to a wheelbarrow or even bigger in older trees. These stumps, when dry, are prized as fire wood for their dense wood and long burning qualities. Sadly, large areas of mallee scrub have been cleared and burnt over the last 175 years and only remnant patches still exist.
In the photo above is one such remnant patch of scrub – right in the heart of town which is unusual but commendable. Most of the surrounding district has been cleared for farming. A typical settler farmer’s cottage can be seen in the photo below. Click on the photo to enlarge the image, and to see the old farm equipment left to rust near the farmhouse.