Saturday, July 19, 2014

Day 7 - Journey to the past.


Day 7 - Journey to the past.
The 'Wall of China' or 'Lunette'. Find out why this land feature has been called these names? Mungo Lake

Past Menindee, you leave the comfort of the sealed road to the joys of a wide dirt road frequently changing from creamy grey to red clay. Saltbushes fill the space with sparely placed Native Cypress pine, Mulga & Eucalyptus. Occasionally we are observed by Emus whose neck erects to confirm there is no threat, but just another passing flash of metal on wheels.
I am reminded of the great distances of this land, while bumping along the road to Pooncarie next to the Darling River.
     The Scott pie experience. A warning here beware the cafe petrol station when asking for a beef & pepper pie. Firstly questions are greeted with a steely glare when asking why the pie is frozen in the middle. Secondly after heating in the microwave it is returned to you as a cheese & bacon pie.
So after Scot's pie experience it was just a short hour to our arrival at the ancient Lake Mungo, home 40,000-year-old Mungo man & woman.
Find out what happened to the 'Zinci' sheep station.

The old sheep pens, looking across the Mungo Lake. What other dry lakes are near Mungo Lake?

We spent the afternoon walking a landscape, which made me think of the first Luna landing. Two Paarkantji Park Rangers, Ernest E & Ernest K, were our leaders on this adventure. The Mungo National Park is an example of Aboriginals groups managing the park. The Paarkantji, Ngyiamba & Mutti, Mutti form the Aboriginal park management group.


Salt bushes & Bush Tomato bush. What do you think Aboriginal people used these bushes for?

The leaves on this tree can be used as an insect repllent. Ranger Eric K Paarkanji man explained this to us.

Find the ancient emu footprint. Each day new fossils are uncovered by wind & water. Be a scientist & develop a theory as to why this happens?

A wide expanse of land covered with saltbushes & other ground loving flora bordered by white cliffs of sand, makes up this dry Mungo Lake. This extinct lake has not held water for 15,000 years. As we followed Ernest & Ernest onto the sands named by 19th century Chinese labourers 'the Great Wall China' or 'Lunettes' after observations from outer space, we stopped at a patch of sand. While Ernest K pointed out footprints dating more than 10,000 years old, Ernest E's keen collected an exposed fossil of a small fish. He shared it Graham who passed it around. Such remarkable discoveries are occurring with regular frequency when the wind & rain decide to reveal another surprise.  This landscape is constantly changing as Ernest said 'if we return in a few years compare our photos we take today it will not be the same'. We visit 30,000-year-old campfires, listen to stories of 40,000-year-old Mungo man & woman & learnt about how these ancient people cooked emu. Their trio-toed footprint of emus would be tracked, but once it changed to a single dot like print the tracker knows they are near the nest. The tracker would take more 2 or 3 eggs to ensure sustainability of the emus. There were areas where evidence of ancient ovens existed. 

Ancient oven over 20,000 years old where Mungo Man & Lady cooked their emu or shellfish dinner. Can you see the small sea shells?

At the top of the sand hill Ernest E took off his guitar, which he had been carrying on his back, to share with 3 of his own songs, which were all, proceeded with stories of the land & his early life. This was a unique way to finish this tour, it also demonstrated how the tradition of Aboriginal song lines which we were introduced to me by Dave in Mt Grenfell, is continued today.
     What were & are the purposes of song lines to Ngyiamba people?
    What causes the erosion of sand & soil in Lake Mungo?
    View some clips of Ernest E's songs, which he shared with us during our tour, here. I ask both rangers for permission to photo & video.
    My learning for today included understanding that the spelling of Aboriginal words depends on who first heard the word then wrote down phonetically, so sometimes it could be Baarkantji or Paarkantji, Garingai or Kuaringai or Kooringai etc..
Another beautiful sunset, the sharing of a meal finished by a yarning circle, reflecting on the past week. As the almost full moon smiled down upon us the young ones Hanne & Scott inspired us to revisit 'Lunettes' under La Luna or the moon. The light of the moon was brilliant no torches required, while the reflection of the sand provided a 'Vivid' like light show.

Image if you were an  astronaut visiting this Mungo Lake for the first time, would it be like this......................................?