Finally, we’ve set up camp on the Darling River in Kinchega National Park. There’s not another soul around and I can hear the river calling me for a swim. Menindee Lake is behind us, and in an hour or so the sun will go down and it will be time to photograph one of those famous sunsets over the Lake.
That was my impression yesterday – and it hasn’t changed. We’re still here. After a week of camp, pack up and move, camp, sightsee, move, etc we decided to have a lazy day by the Darling.
Last night I watched the sunset over the lake. It is haunting, but I’m not sure about hauntingly beautiful. A graveyard for trees I can imagine ghosts flitting through the drowned and twisted stumps and branches. As soon as I’d done photographing I hurried back to our campsite.
Sitting with a dinner of Helen’s freshly caught yellow belly (for her, I’m vegetarian and can’t even stand the smell of fish) accompanied by vegetables & rice with harissa (camping is no excuse not to eat well) and a glass of our Printhie wine, we watched the last rays of the sun die away and the stars slowly appear through the gum trees.
Is it any wonder we decided to stay for a day of R&R?
There’s something magical about the Darling. It truly is a beautiful river. Deep and wide – even when it’s not full – and lined with gum trees it has a sense of peace and – forgive my flight of fancy here but this river does it to me – mysticism. I can almost feel the generations of Aboriginal people that would have lived and travelled around here.
The stories of river traffic and trade that I learned at school only add to the feeling of the place.
So we sat by the river and soaked it up. Swam to cool off, and sat around some more. I will admit that it did take me some time to get in for that first dip, and then it was only sitting by the edge. I’m a bit of a wusslike that, I like to know what’s in the water with me. But once I got brave I was swimming out and around and even floated around with fish nibbling on my legs – at least I think they were fish, I don’t want to think it might be something else!
Around 3pm we decided to go for a drive to check out the rest of the place, including the remains of the old pastoral homestead. Yes – they had sheep up here in the scrubby, sandy country.
And I discovered that looks can be deceiving. Even though the ground is cracked and dry on top, it doesn’t mean it’s like that underneath. I lost a thong and nearly myself trying to walk from the homestead billabong to the river.
Now we’re back at our campsite, having a glass of wine and watching the birds flying overhead and coming in to the river banks.
Shh. I can hear the kangaroos hopping down to the river for their afternoon drink. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.
Darling River, Menindee