l have found that when most people camp at Fort Grey they dont know about the hidden wonder that lays just over the dune. Lake Pinaroo is a massive 2 lake water source that covers a total area of some 2000 acres and it is reported that it can take up to 6 years to dry out. In past years we have seen an array of birdlife enjoying this outback oasis but this year was totally different. As per normal l was keen to show the others this massive lake, but as we walked up the dune and looked into the distance - we or more so myself were totally gobsmack- the bloody lake was bone dry !!!
It was so dry that NPWS have cut a walking track right across the centre of the lakes to the other side, past several significant sites that included, Aboridginal cooking hearths, water well complete with a walking beam and all this leads across to where Charles Sturt carved markings into a tree back in 1845.
Not haveing seen this lake dry before, and maybe never again Steve and l took the challange up to complete the 7km round trip across the lakes and back to visit the sites and to see the tree. It was a darn long way across and back due to the cold wind, barren landscape and the flatness of the walk. But all in all def worth it. Being a significant history marking we took the chance to explore these amazing pieces of history. Finding the ovens was a bit of a challenge, they were sign posted but probably due to the years of water and drought passing them saw them collapse. Futher on where the water well was located, we were really suprised to see what was still left after a good 150 years. Supports from an old building, parts of the walking beam, the old boiler and other bits of machinery were still visable. It had us scratching our head to why and how. Best answer was they were out here in the driest of dry times and this was the only way to draw water up- a major feat to do what they did, especially when you walk around and see the water marks some 10 feet up on the huge gums that have died in the lakes. We continued on to Sturts tree and while the markings were not as deep and signifigant as the Dig tree, we still saw the bark cutout , while a nearby sign highlighted the actual name and date carving and other information. It is reported that the tree died in the 1956 flood and by 1990 the tree was looking pretty sad, so NPWS placed 3 poles under the massive branches to help preserve the tree.
So after our epic walk to the tree, we had the trip back, and oh man it was long. Another interesting place to explore beside the lake are the ruins of the old homestead and survey station beside the lake. Where the ruins are now is the second time that they have been washed down- yep the wind got up that much across the lake that it created massive waves and smashed into the buildings. Great to wander around the old stone buildings, stockyards, awe at the still standing windmill and the piles of glass around the area. The original buildings were a lot closer to the lake, so after it happened the first time they moved up the dune- only to have it done a second time.
Back at camp it was still windy, cold and crappy. Its a good thing that you cant have a fire here cause it just wouldnt work tonite, the good thing though are the free gas bbqs in the shelters, so after a simple dinner it was an early night.
Tomorrow we head around the top of Lake Pinaroo along the Middle Road and start heading east for the next week.