South Australia has many salt lakes and quite a problem with farmland salinity. But along the road from Adelaide to Melbourne is a lake that’s not blindingly white and is an asset rather than a liability. In my photo you’ll see only a faint tinge of pink in the surface of this lake at Dimboola in the Wimmera country but at other times of the year the pink tinge is more intense. The coloration is caused by an algae that manages to live in salt water and which produces beta carotene. The salt, unlike most table salts, is rich in mineral traces which come from the lake’s underground sources. These natural minerals include calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, sulphur, iron, manganese, zinc and copper. The salt has been harvested since 1912 but until recently was mostly for industrial use. Now a partnership between Olive growers at Mt Zero and the local indigenous land owners, the Barengi Gadjin Land Council, sees a smaller harvest, but one which is aimed at a higher value market as a boutique table salt. My photo was made as a panorama stitch…which explains why we have gravity-defying powerlines in the foreground! Oops.
ON THE ROAD — At the end of a long day it’s nice to meet up with some friends around the pool for a drink, a snack and maybe a dip. Top: Immature Superb Blue Wren (Malurus cyaneus) jumps to take an insect while the mature male thinks only about having a drink. Middle: Scarlet Robin (Petroica boodang) hits the pool for a splash. Above: The diminutive Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) pauses poolside to test the waters. Photographed at a small farm dam on the Fleurieu Peninsular, south of Adelaide.
ON THE ROAD — red sand and desert flowers north of Port Augusta, South Australia.
ON THE ROAD — Australia has 28 species of grass trees (Xanthorrhoea). Some have tall trunks, but not so the grass tree common around Adelaide, Xanthorrhoea semiplana. The narrow leaves are often over a metre in length and dance in unison in a strong wind. The tall inflorescence-bearing stems can be up to 4m tall.
ON THE ROAD — No need for a bird hide to get up close and personal with the Australian magpie (Cracticus tibicen, probably race telenocua). This glossy specimen came to greet us when we stopped the car near the walking track to the bird hide at the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens. “Over there”, he or she indicated with a gesture of the beak. Neither the Black-backed, nor White-backed, nor Western Magpies extend into the Top End of the Northern Territory, but with many races they cover most of the rest of the continent.
ON THE ROAD — Eremophila splendens casts a sharp shadow on the red sands at midday. Photographed at the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens Port Augusta.
ON THE ROAD — The Flowering Lignum (Eremophila polyclada) uses a sweet scent to invite insects of many species to feast on its flowers. Found at the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens at Port Augusta.
ON THE ROAD — In the 1930s Lake Hart, not far south of Woomera, produced 9000 tonnes of the finest salt each year. The commercial operation failed because of the continuing difficulty of sourcing water to process the product, and the tyranny of distance from market. Today the Ghan railway runs beside the lake … but it doesn’t stop. The amazing sight of nearly 30km of brilliant white salt flats makes for a brief stopover for road travellers but there is little to linger for.