I was told about the Menindee Lakes several years ago and I was looking forward to seeing this vast system with my own eyes. Instead of heading straight to Menindee on the tar we decided to head south along the Silver city highway for about 95km to head into the lakes from the south. As soon as we turned off at Blackwell the road turns to dirt, this is part of the Menindee Heritage Trail. We found the road pretty good even after a bit of recent rain, a few dusty sections yet our biggest thing we had to watch out for were the Shingleback Lizards that were basking in the winters sun !.
For 70 odd kilometres the road followed the landscape over a few rises and and dipped through some lower areas- where possibly it would flood. It is hard to imagine out here that in this dry dusty crappy area that you can come over a rise and there is so much water that it can fill sydney harbour- but thats what we saw. Not only that- we cant get over the amount of bird life here. From sea birds we see back at home, native birds and a few local ones too. While we having lunch near the Cawndilla outlet, under some old gums, nearby a stork or maybe a heron strolled past and started wading in the shallow water and caught a fish.
After our lunch break the road took us along the edges of the most southern lake, Lake Cawndilla, we didn't go all the way up but there is a campsite tucked up in the system. Instead we veered right along the Emu lake Drive towards Kinchega Woolshed for an explore. WOW !!!… this shed was massive. The shed was built in 1870's by the Hughes family who held the lease in this area. This was one of the largest leases in this area back in its day- running just under 1 million hectares, and it was reported that 6 million sheep were shorn here !!!
National Parks now look after the buildings and the surrounds and do a great job, with plenty of information boards, walks and also a picnic area here at the shed. We wandered through the shed for an hour looking at the old relics, sliding down the shutes and taking in the smell of the ships oil and crap that have been embedded into the timber and soil.
Getting on a bit we decided to keep on moving and now we headed north towards the main lake- lake Menindee. The roads are pretty well maintained considering we were still in the Kinchega National Park, the road surfaced varied between a sandy base to some low dusty ares- obviously this is where there had been some local flooding and it has dried up. Plenty of emus and roos lined the were seen around the edges of the lakes and the road- part of the weather cycle I suppose- get plenty of rain,then theres plenty of breeding- water dries up,animals get scarce.
After a good 20 minute drive along the edge of the lakes bank passing ancient gums we soon came to the Menindee outlet system. Here the water is regulated through a series of gates. We walked across the top of the gates and it was just like being back on the coast, there were seagulls and pelicans feeding on small fish getting caught up in the current.
Not far down the road is the village ( servo shop and caravan park !!! ) of Mendindee just on the outside of the National Park. With a quick stop for an ice cream we were back on the road back to Broken Hill to our camp 120km away. the drive back was surprisingly interesting with several small ranges, then about 30 km out of the Hill a fairly significant one- well we did have to drop back to forth gear- and PHONE SERVICE !!!.. woo hoo
Another great day out exploring a significant part of Australia's history and the last catchment for the Darling River system before it flows further south to Wentworth to become part of the Murray River system. For dinner I think its pub grub tonite.
Easy day tomorrow then we start heading north towards Tibboburra and the corner country.