The Old Talisker Mine

15 Nov

The view from the top of the hill is spectacular. Soft winter pasture still covers the ground in sharp contrast to the spiky Xantheria or grass plants that characterize the harsh coastal scrub and the blue of Baxter’s Passage and hazy profile of Kangaroo Island beckon on the horizon.

 

Backstair's passage and Kangaroo Island

Backstair’s passage and Kangaroo Island (double click to enlarge all images on this page)

 

As I get out of the 4WD to capture this image I notice a pair of western grey kangaroos on the edge of the scrub no more than 20 meters from the vehicle. They are wary, ears twitching and sniffing the air. One is considerably larger than the other. They are probably a mother with a joey at heel and her pouch looks a little enlarged suggesting that she may have another little one tucked away. There could even be two in the pouch; one permanently attached to the nipple while the other simply enjoys the ride. In good times kangaroos can multiply quickly.

Western greys by the track

Western greys by the track

 

 

I am in the Talisker National Park about an hour and a half journey from the city and 10 kms from Cape Jervis at the toe of the Fleurieu Peninsula. The park centres around a series of bush trails that surround an abandoned silver and lead mine dating from the 1860s. Old machinery, buildings and shafts add an historic dimension to an area rich in scenery and wildlife.

Crushing house and old boiler

Crushing house and old boiler

 

 

From my cliff top lookout I backtrack along the dirt roads to the entrance of the old Talisker mine site. The walking trail to the mine is not too steep but the scrub on both sides is dense and full of life. In both the treetops and bushes I can hear the calls of wrens and honeyeaters. Eventually one of the delicate little birds pauses on a branch to announce its territory.

Crescent honeyeater

Crescent honeyeater

 

 

The track ends in a small clearing where the rusted remains of crushers, boilers and old buildings mark the main site. They are all that is left of a mine that once was the workplace of dozens of miners and supported a community of 300 souls at nearby Silverton; now also long gone.

Pied currawong

Grey currawong

 

 

The buildings are surrounded by a forest of eucalypts and I can hear the more distinctive movements of a larger animal in the branches on the far side of the crushing plant. I focus my long lens on the area and start to search for the perpetrator, expecting another roo or even a possum disturbed from its daytime sno0ze. But it is a large crow-like bird that I spot amongst the leaves and branches, a pied currawong, a relative of the white backed magpies that are so common on the plains where I live. Currawongs are a group that I have rarely photographed successfully as they tend to be a little more wary than their magpie cousins.

Bush track surrounded by eucalypt forest near the park entrance

Leaving the park along a bush track

 

 

It has been quite a long day walking, driving and stalking wildlife and the ruins are a great place to sit and unpack a well anticipated lunch picked up at the local Yankalilla bakery; nothing flash, just a steak and mushroom pie and an indulgent apricot tart to round off the meal. Good South Aussie ‘tucker’ to fuel up for the walk up the hill and drive home.

 

Cheers

Baz                  

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