Christmas in July – World’s End Gorge, 24-27 July 2020

Burra Gorge – World’s End Camp Site

We were very excited to be taking part in this    Overland 4WD Club trip, as we had not been on a club event at all this year, for various reasons. The Club HAS had a couple of trips since the COVID-19 outbreak, but this was going to prove to be a mega number of participants – we ended up with 16 vehicles by the Saturday morning for our first “official” drive.

 The Muhleders, the Butlers and a couple of others arrived earlier than the rest, setting up camp from Wednesday on. We arrived Friday afternoon to find the campfire in full swing, so got our rig set up as quickly as we could, for folk who haven’t pitched camp in more than 6 months!

The camp site is a well-known one to Adelaide campers, a few kilometres from the town of Burra, surrounded by large, old gum trees, housing the usual plethora of Aussie birdlife – so wonderful to hear. There is also a stream running through, with clear water suitable for camp activities. The camp site is also a great one for the Club dogs – they were able to run around visiting participants and spreading their doggy joy!

The facilities are basically a long drop loo, so you have to be pretty self-sufficient and bring all the   luxuries you want! I was VERY excited as, this time, we had a Porta Potty!

Apparently it had been very chilly Thursday night, but due to cloud cover on Friday night, people braved the cold to sit around the camp fire and yarn. Everyone had brought firewood, so the communal fire was large and inviting. Kerry reminded us that the Saturday evening meal was going to be our CELEBRATION meal.  Even though COVID restrictions said no to food sharing, we still planned to eat together, take part in Kerry’s ‘secret Christmas games’ including a hunt for a silver sixpence in one of the individually wrapped pieces of Christmas  pudding and, to cap it off – the judging of the BEST DECORATED CAMP SITE.

Saturday morning saw a leisurely start to the day with perfect weather.  Ida and Gordon Atherton,  and Julie and Trevor’s family joined us that morning for our 10 am departure time, for the drive led by Mark and Carolyn Abbott.

When we gathered together for the briefing, we realised we had a huge group of 16 vehicles for Mark to guide on his planned tour. Usually with a group as large as this, it is split – with a couple of groups heading in different directions. However, as we only had our intrepid leader – we forged ahead as one group. This would prove interesting, as we needed to get through several (many!) closed    property gates!

On the trip we passed Baldina Station, which had once had its own post office and pub, and Wandalla Creek where remains of the original stone work can still be seen.

We travelled on through Red Banks and Caroona Conservation Parks, and saw in the distance the Mongolata Goldfields, which are still privately run. As we travelled through these areas, we had to be wary of the stock, as they wandered along fence lines and sometimes decided to dash across the track. Many of them had young lambs with them, so we had to be mindful of not startling them and separating the mums from their babies.

It is Marino wool production in this part of the country, and Mark told us of a station that was bought in 2014 for $7 million!

For those who were yearning for some 4WD challenges, in the afternoon Mark was able to oblige with some interesting tracks, but nothing too        challenging for those a little less experienced. We were even able to travel across his friend’s property to bounce along over the rolling hills.

We stopped to explore the ruins of William Dare’s property, where we found evidence of the early pioneering lifestyle in the bones of the original buildings. It had been a large homestead, with a separate kitchen building away from the homestead, as was the custom of the day.

Exploring William Dare’s property

We proceeded on to local man, and Australian explorer, Sir Hubert Wilkins’ family cottage (below), which is still in good repair as a museum. Wilkins had been a young man during WW1, receiving a Medal of Honour for his time at Gallipoli, and had flown during the War, later going on to a career in aerial photography. It was only after his death that it was discovered he had never held a pilot’s licence!

We continued on through Princess Royal cattle country – magnificent black cattle, and passed along areas that are part of the Heysen Trail. There were plenty of kangaroos to see, and also some young emus led by Papa emu across a field.

Mark did a great job of leading his HUGE group on this epic trip, at the same time telling us so much about the history of the area.  He had hoped to get back to camp by 3pm – it actually took till 4:30pm –  but we were very impressed that he got us all back without losing anyone – or have any problems with the vehicles!

So – once back in camp, the festivities began….Maria insisted on playing Christmas carols on her sound system to set the atmosphere, and everyone scurried off to put the final touches to their decorations.

We had our dinner together, dressed suitably in Christmas hats and other festive paraphernalia.    We were soooo lucky that Father (Greg Dean) Christmas found us! We played a game that found us with no sense of giving – just the desire to tear presents from each other’s hands!  Harry managed to find the sixpence in his pudding – but as it is a “Kerry Muhleder Heirloom” – he swapped it for a prize!

The judging of the decorations was taken VERY seriously, and after much deliberation the final outcome was:

FIRST PRIZE:             Gavin and Caroline 

SECOND PRIZE:       Harry and Pam   

HON. MENTION:       US!!

Once again, we were able to sit and enjoy our   campfire and conversations with our fellow travellers.

Sunday morning proved to be a little more crisp, and we woke to the sounds of kookaburras, galahs, and many other glorious Aussie birds.

9am saw us gathering with Wal and Kerry for our morning drive through Mimbara Conservation Park. This time the trails were dustier (including bulldust to give us some white outs!). We now had a shorter caravan, with only 12 vehicles, as a couple of participants had left, and some others had stayed behind to pack up.

This time we had some interesting rocky creek crossings, and a rather steep climb to navigate, but all relatively easy to do. We stopped near some rocky formations for exploration and photo opportunities, with some beautiful views. We are so lucky to have these places so relatively close to   Adelaide for us to visit.

We headed back to camp and got back in time for lunch, as some were packing up and heading home. The rest of us relaxed for the afternoon, enjoying the tranquillity.

Monday morning saw most of the campers pack up and head home, after a really enjoyable “Christmas in July”.

I would like to thank those who organised this trip, as it was a great occasion, giving the Club a chance to do what it is meant to do. So to those who came up with the ideas, organised silly games AND PRIZES, spent their OWN time making Christmas pudding for us all, and plotted out the trips – a BIG THANK YOU.

Cecilia Littlewood

Thank you to the photographers – Les, Maria, Val, Carolyn