Seeing that Fiona and I were taking a group of friends on a four wheel driving trip to the Eyre Peninsula, on the west coast of South Australia, I had planned to visit as many confluence as possible that time would allow. In November 2006, I started to contact as many of the property owners as possible, to gain their permission to travel on their private properties to log the respective confluences.
Our first intended confluence visit was S33 E137, which is located on Gillies Downs Station, south west of Iron Knob. Gillies Downs Station is 510 square Kilometres in size and runs mainly Sheep. In good years, they usually run 6500 head of sheep, but because of the drought conditions that they and much of Australia has suffer over the last few years, they are only running 4000 head of sheep at the moment. When I first made contact with the Station owner, Brian Gill, he had never heard of, or knew what a confluence was, but was very interested in seeing first hand on getting those magic figures on a GPS. A week before we started our trip, I again contacted Brian to make sure that it was still OK to travel on his Station tracks to reach the confluence. I explained that we did not want to backtrack to the main highway, but travel further south west through his property and pass Polygonum Swamp before making our way back to the Eyre Highway. Again Brian gave the thumbs up, with the only request that I give him a ring before leaving Port Augusta, as he wanted to come out with us to see what was involved in tracking down a confluence.
Just before leaving Port Augusta, I gave Brian’s mobile phone a call, only to be told by his wife that Brian was in Port Augusta for medical treatment, but said that it was alright for us to proceed by ourselves and that all the gates that we had to go through had been unlocked. Upon entering Gillies Downs Station, we followed the station tracks to South Dam, where it was time to leave our vehicles and walk the 2.3 kilometres to reach the confluence. Apart from the sheep that run on Gillies Downs, we encountered a few mobs of feral goats, as well as lots of emus with their small chicks in the area, so we made sure that we stayed well clear of the very protective male emus, which raises the young chicks by himself. The walk to the confluence was a very easy walk, only having to cross a couple of dry creek beds, with the area mainly covered in bluebush, mulga and mallee trees. One interesting observation that I noticed during the walk, was a clump of mistletoe growing in one of the trees, which was very different to the mistletoe that grows around Clare where we live. Mistletoe is a parasitic shrub that lives off its host tree and spread by the Mistletoe Bird, which after eating the fruit, voids a sticky embryo of seed onto a branch of a host tree, where it quickly attaches, germinates and in time kills its host tree.
Arriving at the confluence point, it was time to show Jim and Jan the finer points of confluence dancing, as this was their first confluence visit. With photos in hand, we set off back to our waiting vehicles and to travel more of the enjoyable station tracks back to the Eyre Highway, again sighting many young emu chicks and their protective dads. As with all confluence visits, it is a great sense of achievement to know that you have logged a successful visit.
I would like to personally say a special thanks to Brian Gill for allowing us to log this confluence on his Gillies Downs Station and for unlocking all the access gates that we had to pass through.