Mildura Weekly : Friday May 30 2014 Vol 8 No 30
www.milduraweekly.com.au 14 Mildura Weekly – 30/05/14 By REX ELLIS with GRANT MAYNARD FOR Riverland raconteur, adventurer, author and out- back guide Rex Ellis, walk- ing across South Australia’s major salt lakes is literally an undertaking ‘for the birds!’ Rex, and his retired farmer mate Brenton Hick, are walking eight major salt lakes to raise money for, and awareness of, eight of Austra- lia’s most endangered bird recovery projects. Earlier this month they tackled Lake Callabonna, a dry salt lake with little to no vegetation in north-eastern South Australia, about 120 kilometres, south-west of the junction of South Aus- tralia, Queensland and New South Wales at Cameron Corner. Rex told the Mildura Weekly: “We drove to the western shore of the lake, or to be more precise to within two kilometres of it, owing to boggy conditions. “Our aim with this lake was to attempt to walk across it – 21 kilometres – and re- turn along our tracks be- cause it was too hard to at- tempt a pick-up on the other side. “Leaving early the next morning, we had to pull our two-wheel cart two kilome- tres to the lake edge through a sandy, sometimes boggy, Salt lake walks are ‘a job for the birds’ gutter-strewn Samphire swamp flat. “We had estimated the Lake Callabonna traverse might take two to three days. “Starting across the lake, we set a bearing for the north- ern end of a large island near the centre of the lake. “It was heavy going from the start, with several inches of powdery fine sand sit- ting on top of the salt/mud. Brenton, wearing a body har- ness is between the shafts of the cart, and me, six metres in front pulling with a rope around my waist. “I might stress here that I am not doing this because it’s on my ‘bucket list’ or any- thing like that. It’s ‘strictly for the birds.’ “Brenton has other rea- sons, which include a liking for pushing his body to the ‘max’! “We travelled until mid- day, having five minutes spell every hour, over varying sur- face conditions. After nine kilometres and around mid- day, the surface began getting increasingly boggy, finally pulling us up. “Being just a hundred metres from the island, we left the cart, and walked with great difficulty to the island for lunch. “Our venue was com- prised low three to six-metre sand dunes, with sparsely scattered shrubbery, mostly saltbush, and a few dead trees, probably Needlewood. “By this time a very strong westerly wind began blow- ing. We returned to the cart, unloaded it, and ‘unbogged’ it. In two trips we carried our gear back about two hundred metres along our tracks. Rain was threatening, and we de- cided that attempting the east shore was too risky. “We then returned to the cart, and pulled it to our ‘gear dump’, reloaded and set off back across the flat, walking into the wind. “We had disposed of most of our 30 litres of wa- ter to make travel easier. (It’s necessary to carry a big ‘margin’ of water, and mostly freeze-dried food, in case we get stranded, which could be for days if it rains). “To complicate matters, the wind had blown up a sand storm from the west, which we walked through for about 20 minutes. “It was almost impos- sible to open your eyes, and there were showers of rain all around, but very little fell on us. “Finally, we reached our vehicle again late in the af- ternoon, having travelled twenty-two kilometres in total. “That will have to do for Lake Callabonna. I hope the birds appreciate it!” So ends the story of that walk, but all things being equal Rex and Brenton are planning to set out again this weekend. Their challenge this time is Lake Blanche, in central South Australia, at the end of the Flinders Ranges. The lake lies below sea level, and forms part of the Strzelecki Desert Lakes Important Bird Area, identified as such by BirdLife International be- cause of its importance for waterbirds when holding water after floods. If you want to donate to help Rex and Brenton’s wor- thy cause, log onto www. birdsaustralia.com.au/rexs- trek. Rex Ellis’s outback books are available by logging onto www.safarico.com.au . “It was almost impossible to open your eyes, and there were showers of rain all around, but very little fell on us...” Photograph: MARK DUNCAN, Duncan Images SELF HIRE AND DRIVE LONG & SHORT TERM RENTALS • 12-25 seat buses • Air conditioned latest models • Air conditioned utes • One Tonne Capacity • 3 Tonne Truck 5023 4366 FAX 5021 5041 COMPETITIVE RATES M HIRE SHORT TRIP CARS HORT ORT TRUCKS LONG TRAVEL DISTA NCES LONG TRAVEL DISTA NCES TRUCKS &CARS TRUCKS &CARS 12 - 25 SEATER BUSES FOR HIREE ELF DRIVE VEHICLES MOVERS TRAILERS TRAILERS BUSES TRUCKS UTES EE ELLFF DRRRIIVVVVVVVVVVE LL ONG OORR SH SH SHOR O TTER CCCCCCCCLLLLEEEEEEEES EE VVVVVVVVVVVEEEEE 122 - 222222222255555555555 SSSSSSSEAATER BUSESESESESSESESESES FFOR HIRE TRIPS RRRRRRRE OOOOR ORR HHHHHHHHHHIRIRIRIRIRIRIRIRIII TR OSS OS OS OS OS FFFFFOOOOO ATERERRRR BBBBBBBBUUS US US US US US US USEEEEEEE TTTTT TT TTTTT TT TTTTOOOOOOO THE FASTEST GROWING TRAILER ORGANISATION IN AUSTRALIA. 50% OFF COMPLETE GLASSES INCLUDING THE LATEST DESIGNERS When you choose 1 pair of complete glasses with PENTAX standard single vision lenses from a select range in the $149 collection or above. * OVER150FRAMES *Other lens types and extra options not included. 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