Even though I have travelled up to Menindee for five years now I am always surprised by the diversity in the environment.
As I have said a few times, you look out the car window and see a flat, dry, uninteresting landscape. Is it an arid area? I guess so, although Philip Moore says in the introduction to his invaluable book A guide to plants of Inland Australia
…arid and dry not only mean parched but have connotations of uninteresting, dull, barren, unproductive and lacking spiritual or creative life. Those are not the feelings engendered in most Australians who, according to surveys, describe our natural and wilderness areas as happy, friendly, sacred, huge, roadless, pure, remote, alive, exciting, unique, wild, challenging, inspiring, valuable, restful, free and unspoilt. [p12]
Wow, that is some list of positives. He goes on to say
While we acknowledge that these are perhaps rose-tinted views from the workplace and the city gridlock, they nevertheless do reflect our regard for that large inland portion of sparsely inhabited and starkly beautiful country we affectionately call the outback.
That notion of the Outback is a curious one too. Something I read, and I think it was in Alex Miller’s Autumn Laing, made me stop and think. When a character, who lived in remote Queensland was asked where the Outback was, he said that it was further out. Many would consider his station in the Outback, but for him it was home and the Outback was further on.
I understand that. Before I went to Broken Hill and Menindee the Outback was much of inland Australia. Having explored the fringes of the Inland, including the Flinders Ranges, I tend to think of the Outback as the land further over, over the distant horizon. It’s the area that is unfamiliar, undiscovered and unexplored by me. The Outback has become a concept rather than an actual place. What do you think? And I wonder what those who live in these remote places think.
However it is far from being a dry, barren environment. You only have to walk a little way into the landscape to see the diversity.
Every plant is doing what it can to survive and reproduce. You see the plants that flourish when the season is right for them, the plants that creep or climb on others, that put on a marvellous show like the poached egg daisy. You see the ones that shelter in the shade of the bigger plants or thrive out in the open. You notice that not every bush is a saltbush and that even the saltbushes have beauty and difference.
This is just a small gallery of species that grow there.
Then there are the animals — fortunately no snake photos! There are many species of birds that live along the banks of the Darling River. They move so quickly that often you only catch a flash of colour, so unfortunately photos are very difficult.
Look how well camouflaged this magnificent fellow is, as he strolls through Kinchega National Park.
And speaking of camouflage, can you see the animals in the photo?