A report by guest Alan Pickering of the SA 4WD & Touring Club:
Traditionally, the Jackaroo 4wd Club of Victoria run a trip over the first weekend in October every year, to visit the Little Desert National Park and surrounding area. The wildflowers at this time are usually at their best. Members of the NSW Jackaroo 4wd Club and the SA 4WD & Touring Club are always invited to come along too. With Covid-19 travel restrictions removed at last, the 2022 trip was the first return to the Little Desert since 2019. Thirty two people in seventeen vehicles took part in the weekend’s activities.
The Serviceton Recreation Reserve, located one and half kilometres south of Serviceton, was where we camped. There are eight powered sites in the main area, with another two general power outlets accessible from the amenities block and water pump.
As it was a base camp, people could arrive and leave on the days that suited them. Some early birds arrived on the Thursday and a few late leavers stayed until Tuesday.
Four trips were on offer, namely:
- Nhill Historic tour
- Bordertown Highlights
- Kaniva Silo Art
- Mt Moffat area
There was also a tour of the Serviceton railway station on the Sunday.
Given the number of vehicles involved, people were rotated through the trips, allowing six vehicles in any one convoy. It was all very free and easy, with individuals able to choose what they wanted to do and when. This made a nice change from normal tours, where you are on the road most days travelling on an itinerary.
Happy Hours were held around a campfire on all nights, except Saturday when we had a group dinner at the Woolshed Inn in Bordertown. The sunsets were stunning, keeping some of us at the campfire well into the gloaming. Weatherwise, there was no rain and the days just got better and better. The early days of overcast cloud improved to blue skies and plenty of sunshine.
The drives were pretty, with bright yellow canola crops interspersed with green wheat and darker green broad beans. We were told, this area of Victoria grows the bulk of the broad beans grown in Australia. It’s been such a wet year, the wheat crop had to be crop dusted for rust. On Saturday, we were treated to a display of low flying by a crop duster in the fields around the campsite. Roger Hall explained, GPS guidance enables crop dusting to be perfectly applied these days.
The wet, cold year also meant the wildflowers, especially the orchids, were not yet in abundance. Our Victorian friends, who have been regular attendees on these weekends for thirty years, were able to point out:
- Purple waxlip orchids
- Fire orchids (or were they Running Postman)
- Greenhood orchids
- Spider orchids
- Donkey orchids
- Fringe Myrtle was in abundance in most areas,
- while south of Mt Moffat, there was Pink Heath.
In terms of four-wheel driving, the sand was generally firm, with some sections of the tracks holding water in mud holes. Once we determined the ground was firm at the bottom of these holes, we started to drive straight through, albeit with a little caution. (Note: I am speaking for myself here)
Mt Moffat was a highlight. Its summit was a good lunch spot. It provided 360° views over the never-ending mallee scrub and in the sun, was perfect. The steep sand track off the top, down to the floor of the park, provided a bit of a challenge for drivers. At the other end of the scale, height wise, was Broughton’s Waterhole, located just off the McDonald Highway. This was a delightful camp area around a large waterhole, about the size of a football oval. Perfect for a break after we had climbed the nearby Mt Turner. As previously stated, the program was free and easy.
On Sunday afternoon, after a visit to the Serviceton railway station, Alyson and I made our way to Nhill to visit the ex-RAAF base, which is only open on Sundays.
After a guided tour of the hangar and its three planes, many photographs and displays, we left and crossed the highway to find the target bombing range. We completed a round trip with a drive through the park and back roads to camp.
While we did our trip, others ventured back to Mt Moffat to play in the sand and mud holes. The Serviceton Recreation Reserve is no longer used for football, or cricket. However, its facilities are available in the old pavilion for use by campers. Although the showers and toilets are basic, they are well maintained and kept to a high standard by a shrinking band of local helpers.
While we were there, the toilets and showers were refreshed daily. A big thank you to these volunteers.
In summary, the weekend was a great little break. Everyone was in good spirits, with much friendliness within the whole group. The weather was good to superb and the trips interesting and enjoyable.
Full marks to Alan Dash and the Jackaroo 4wd Club of Victoria for making all the arrangements and to everyone who participated so well.