Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ok, Lets take the tour….

This is the reason why the town is here, the pelletizing plant in the foreground, harbor behind that and the Steel making plant behind that. Also there is a Rolling Mill off to the side and the mine that feeds the whole catastrophe 60km away. The rusty red is the iron ore dust. (Iron ore is basically rust) One entire end of the town is the same colour and you can guess the colour of our house dust?

This is where the town started about 80 years ago and that’s why this is where the largest trees are found. Below the protection of the hill is the town Gardens (big trees) and the town spread on the flats beyond that. (ancient floodplain)
That’s the sea there, several degrees warmer up here in Spencer Gulf where the water is shallow and the sun hot. It's also several percent more salty because of the evaporation rate. (and also why we have a thriving salt pan industry) 

Outside the town looking back. This is typical of the area, low hills with ancient floodplains between, a few low bushes and hardy trees. At least we hardly ever got lost and it's an awesome area for motorbike and 4WDing.

If I turn around to the North we see… more of the same across to the next hill 12km away. Australia originally had huge mountain ranges, over eons they wore away to dust. The dust washed toward the coasts making these huge sand and silt flats. We also have alluvial Gold and Diamonds…the hard part is finding them in all that sand.

..and from the top of that hill….

Typical of the better bits, the red sands of central Australia visible between the struggling Saltbush (light grey) and the darker and useless Bluebush. (dark green/blue) Lucky for Australia *Saltbush is good Sheep food so we managed to build a Wool and Meat trade from this. The trees both alive and dead are Myall trees, long lived and so gnarled and hard you cant do anything with them. (pretty much the only reason theyre still here)
* Saltbush tackles the hard salty soils and horrible temperatures by excreting salt through their leaves to act as sunscreen. You can (and we do) eat the leaves to increase your salt intake. (only take leaves from the top of the bush where theres likely to be less pee)

You can tell the approximate age of the Myall by their shape, this one is over 150 years but not yet 400 years old. Even small fires will kill them and they need a good flood to create seeds, they sometimes go 50 or more years between flowerings and seed setting. For these reasons they are totally protected. The last big flowering was 1974 and I can see the young trees from that year all around. (between 6 to 10 feet tall)

This older Myall is somewhere over 400 years but not yet 600 years old. To put that into perspective, Australia was settled in the 1770's, that’s less than 250 years ago when this tree was middle aged..

..and now I must tell you that these photos were taken in August 2012 at the end of our Winter (our rainy season) when the trees were at their best and every bush had put on it's next years growth.
I keep promising myself to go out in the 48-54Celcius Summer to get pics of what it's really like out here but I keep chickening out..besides, people really do die out there....



Jen said...

Go really early in the morning and pack an ice chest. Or wait until next winter...

Tempo said...

Hi Jen, the tracks are pretty lousy as well so I go bush on my Yamaha to prevent damaging my car, I have a Camelback but it only takes a couple of hours to empty the 2.5 litres that holds. Summer is awesome in it's own (scary) way.

Belle said...

I loved reading about the trees. They are interesting to look at too. I can see myself as a teenager on the back of a motorbike on those trails. I did that in California where it looks similar to your back yard. The town looks quite nice with all the trees and the sea. Thanks for showing all this.

River said...

Gold and Diamonds?
Book me a hotel room, I'll pack extra sunscreen....

The Myall trees look fantastic, I love their shapes. They're not what we call Mallee are they?
I remember mallee stumps that would break axes and some chain saws too, but just one shoved into the slow combustion stove would burn all night and we'd wake up to warm rooms in the winter.
You're in Whyalla aren't you? I've never been there.

Joe Pereira said...

48-54 degrees? Good grief! Incredible continent with more contrasting landscapes than time zones. One day I'd love to visit Australia (if only it weren't so damn far) :)

Tempo said...

Hi Belle, I love these old trees, when I'm out riding I always stop under one for a rest and theyre alive with critters of all kinds. (Ive had the crap scared out of me more than once)
Hi River, The Mallee is a clumping tree where the Myall is a singular tree with much harder wood. They burn steady and slow and throw out nearly twice the heat as Mallee. The Mallee is fast growing by comparison and can stand fire and cutting without dying. Myall is hard to get now that it's protected, it's only available when they clear land for building. Lucky me has a few nice pieces in my yard saved for camping. Yep I'm in Whyalla, just across from where you were born but a very much different climate. The rain always falls on the Pirie side of the gulf.
Hi Joe, Many people come from England to see the outback and spend no more than a day there before retreating to the East coast. It's easy to underestimate the real heat and hardship of the bush.

Anonymous said...

salt bush...interesting.
and you're a white male " like it matters"?
I think you think it does.
that why you have " the face"?

River said...

Grew up in Pirie, but wasn't born there. I was born in Hamburg, Germany.
Yep, I'm a Hamburger.

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