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South Australia

Parkin Sturt Patrol

Based in Victor Harbour, South Australia. This is a combined patrol.

The Parkin patrol area covers east of the Stuart Highway (Port Augusta to Marla in the far north), the north-east and north-central areas of South Australia to the Queensland and Northern Territory borders. This includes remote stations like Todmorden and other outlying remote stations/properties.

A number of small communities are associated within this Patrol. They include Andamooka, Angorichina village, Beltana, Blinman Leigh Creek, Copley, Lyndhurst, Marree, Oodnadatta (UAICC faith community, presence), William Creek, the Moomba Gas Fields, Innamincka, Mungerannie, Mintabie and Marla and the indigenous communities of Iga Warta, (Mt Searle) and Nepabunna.

There are also tourist facilities, including Arkaroola and the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Parks, Wilpena, Oraparinna, Balcannoona and a variety of horse/camel races and gymkhana events which provide opportunitites to connect with the local communities and tourists.

There are stations like Angepina and many others that now may have a mixed business, including stock and eco-tourism applications. In Hawker, the patrol minister has a range of opportunities to engage with locals and tourists (e.g. camp fire nights with Camel treks Australia where the story and legacy of Rev. John Flynn, AIM, can be shared).

The Australian Inland Mission originally commenced in this area through the Smith of Dunesk Mission at Beltana. The Parkin Patrol was expanded from a Congregational patrol which began in the 1950s and had previously included the Sturt Patrol. Visiting of pastoral stations, national parks, road gangs and the number of small towns in the area is important. The Patrol Minister celebrates the sacraments, conducts services as appropriate and supports the Hawker Uniting Church congregation. Much of the ministry involves spending time listening to people and offering friendship and support in both good times and the not so good times.

The Sturt Patrol covers an area 150 kilometres on the northern side of the Barrier Highway from Peterborough to Cockburn. It includes the settlements of Yunta, Mannahill, Olary and Cockburn.

It also covers the area south of the Barrier Highway down to the Sturt Highway just north of the Murray River. This southern part of the patrol covers everything east of Burra, to the NSW border, including the rangers at Danggali Conservation Park. The boundaries are Curnamona/Frome Downs in the north, Danggali Conservation Park in the east, Redcliffe Station in the south and Woolgangi in the south-west. These boundaries are shared with parts of the Parkin Patrol.

The Patrol also covers the stations west of the Stuart Highway up to and including Marla, the Gawler Ranges, and the towns of Kingoonya and Tarcoola in the west. The stations in the north-west (north of Tarcoola) of the patrol extend to the Great Victoria Desert and Tallaringa Conservation Park and include Commonwealth Hill, Mobella, Mulgathing, and Bulgunnia. The station of Wilgena, south of Tarcoola is also part of the patrol.

The Australian Inland Mission (AIM) originally began in this region of South Australia with the appointment of the Rev John Flynn to the Smith of Dunesk Mission at Beltana in 1911. Soon after Flynn's appointment AIM hospitals were built at Birdsville, Innamincka, Beltana and Leigh Creek.

The summer months have extreme temperatures, and combined with some arid country, some of those living in the area feel and experience a strong sense of isolation from services and neighbours. People of these pastoral stations have had a long association with the land. Recovery from the recent years of drought will take some time.

Along with general pastoral care, the Patrol Minister conducts funerals, weddings, baptisms and town celebrations in a variety of circumstances and seeks to bring something of the grace of Christ as he ministers to people. On many occasions the conversations will be long, thoughtful and much appreciated.

Parkin-Sturt Patrol