23/10/15 We were sorry to leave Marree as we’d made such good friends in Jo and Brenton, the owners of the Drovers Run Tourist Park where we had been camped.
Just a little south of Marree, we pulled in to Farina Station for smoko and a look through the ruins of the old Farina Township, comprising remnants of quite a few stone buildings. We happened upon two Nankeen Kestrels and their juvenile chick that were happy for us to get close enough for some photographs.
148kms south of Maree, we took the turn-off east to Beltana Station, not too far in along a good gravel road. On our way down, I’d reinflated the tyres at Lyndhurst when we’d hit the bitumen, and wasn’t going to drop them down again for just seven kilometres of gravel, so they stayed as they were and we just took it steady. Emus and wild goats were plentiful, including a kamakazi emu that almost t-boned the Landy as it dashed across in front of us. We camped next to the 1860 shearer’s quarters at the homestead, originally intending to stay just one night, but were so pleased by what we found that we stayed on longer.
The property was established in 1854 and many of the buildings date back to that time, constructed of lime-washed stone. Many have been tastefully renovated to provide accommodation and entertainment for the tourist trade, but the 1876 square kilometre property is still very much a working sheep and cattle station. The station had been the starting point for exploration expeditions including one made famous by Ernest Giles to Western Australia in 1875.
Judging by the sizable museum in the shearing shed, nothing at all must have been thrown out since the property was established. There were heaps of photos and old wares on display, providing a great insight into the history of life on the property.
In the afternoon, we gave Michelle a hand to bottle-feed the orphans – five kids (goats), a calf, and a three day old lamb.
The following morning, we went on a camel ride with Kamahl who, with his Canadian partner, Marie, had walked their group of eight camels south from Alice Springs in April last year. By the time they’d arrived at Beltana Station in November, there had been four births along the way, taking the number of camels to twelve. It was appropriate they were now located at Beltana Station as this was the first property in South Australia to import camels from the Middle East back in the 1860s, and became one of the largest and most successful breeding studs and depots for camels in Australia. So it’s had a long connection with camels and cameleers. Portions of the movie Tracks, about a young woman who goes on a 1,700 mile trek across the Western Australian deserts with her four camels and a dog, had been filmed on Beltana, and it has also featured in the movies “Gallipoli”, “Thousand Skies”, “Stealth” and “Rabbit Proof Fence”.
On our last night, we had dinner in the Saltbush Restaurant in the shearing shed with the owners, Graham and Laura, all the station staff, and the four other travellers staying there. We’ve always enjoyed station stays and this one was definitely up there with the best.
“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – Albert Einstein