It's definitely strange writing about the coast and sea when Jane and I are on a 800+ Kms journey away from the seaside city of Melbourne to get to Broken Hill -which definitely does not have an ocean nearby!
At present we are in the glorious city of Mildura on the mighty Murray River in far northwest Victoria on the border with New South Wales. Check out the location from the map I gave a couple of days ago by clicking here.
The mighty Murray River, one of the world's longest navigable rivers, stretches 2,700 kilometres from the mountains of the Great Dividing Range in north-eastern Victoria to near Adelaide in South Australia. A mountain stream in its upper reaches, the river turns into a meandering river lined with magnificent forests of red gum and sandy beaches in its lower reaches. The region is home to plentiful wildlife, supporting over 350 varieties of birds, as well as many species of mammals, reptiles and fish.1
Traverse the region from end to end and delight in the activity and diversity found along the way. Inhabited by Aboriginal people for thousands of years, the Murray River is now the lifeblood of Victoria's food bowl and the centre of social, sports and cultural activities – from east to west.1
The Murray travels on down through South Australia flowing through several lakes that fluctuate in salinity (and were often fresh in the 1800s) including Lake Alexandrina and The Coorong before emptying through the Murray mouth into the Indian Ocean (Southern Ocean according to Australian maps) near Goolwa, South Australia. 2
But Jane and I are traversing the land northwards not south so we won't be seeing the mouth of the Murray this trip. We are heading for Broken Hill just like the famous explorer Charles Sturt did in 1844 when he went in search of Australia's inland sea! Yes, a few milliion years ago Australia looked more like a partly eaten donut! But back to Mr Sturt and what he was up to in the 1800s when he left Adelaide in South Australia on a little walk to find a beach.
Sturt's expedition consisted of 15 men (including the explorer John McDouall Stuart), 11 horses, 30 bullocks, four wooden carts, and 200 sheep. Hoping that they would encounter the sea, two of the men chosen were sailors, and the expedition dragged a boat behind them. With the carts, Sturt was lucky to cover 30 kilometres a day.4
That's right...Sturt took two sailors and a boat into inland Australia!
When the explorers were passing through the area where Broken Hill now stands Sturt saw and named the Barrier Ranges, and at the time referred to a "Broken Hill" in his diary. 5 And that's how this remote settlement got its name.
David Middlebrook has illustrated Sturt's observation of the broken range most dramatically in ink of paper as shown below.
Poor Charles Sturt didn't find the inland sea but you can read the story of his unsuccessful expedition by following thhis bookmark link.
And what of the inland sea? Did is really exist? Yes - and you can read a short description in the news article below.
With the deluge of rain we have been experiencing this year maybe the sea will return?
I'll check to see if Jane has put a little dinghy in the car boot just in case!!
And are we travelling with a couple of sailors? Now that would be telling!!!