Sunday, 13 August 2017

Coming Home


We had a very colourful start to our day in Mildura, but no, we didn't get any rain, just more wind.


And so our very brief sojourn to Victoria ended.  Once again, no fanfare as you enter New South Wales, as you cross the Murray River from Mildura.


Our morning tea stop was at the town of Balranald, on the Murrumbidgee River.


There seems to be a push to encourage tourism.  The suspension bridge in the background is new since we were last through and there are quite a few little quirky frogs around the town.  Apparently there are another five to be installed shortly.


It was interesting reading the above sign about the environment and the original peoples.  When  you read further, they are trying to conserve the area and the endangered Southern Bell Frog, but there is a cost involved, which will affect the wealth of the town, which explains why the push for tourism.   


I loved this sculpture.


And this one.


There is a brand new Visitor Centre, where I was able to buy some local organic produce and not worry about quarantine areas.  We had some of the pumpkin roasted for dinner last night and it was delicious.  Do you like my new friend with his jaunty scarf.  The local council run caravan park also has great reviews, so they are doing something right in the town.


Across the road from the Visitor Centre there was a great shop with upcycled furniture.  Really lovely stuff.  We had a chuckle at their opening hours sign.


Between Balranald and Hay is very flat, but it kind of follows the river.  It is a huge irrigation area, but unfortunately, too difficult to photograph.  There were several large holding dams.  We were intrigued by this crane which was installing a tank.  You will notice that there is only the boom showing, which means the crane itself is below ground level.  Mick has quite a bit of dealings with cranes and he reckoned that it would have to be at least a 100 tonne, if not 200 tonne crane by the size and length of the boom.  That is quite some tank they have just placed.  They don't do things by halves out this way.  There was lots of cotton waste on the sides of the road, so that must be one of their main crops.


We did come across one mob on cattle on the road.


The Hay Plains just go on for ever.


Then, in the middle of no where there was a cute church.

We weren't sure where we would get to that day, as it is too far to travel home from Mildura in a day.  We thought West Wyalong, but, the half way point between Mildura and home is the tiny town of Goolgowi.  A quick look at Wikicamps revealed that there is a caravan park with great reviews.  We might as well stay there.  The reviews were right.  It is council owned, and all the amenities and services are very new and well kept.


Once we were set up we went for a little walk and saw this chappy.  He is a grey-crowned babbler.  We also saw more Mallee Ring Necks.  (Thank goodness for our bird book, as we have seen quite a few new varieties.)


There were a few old buildings.  The town was founded in 1925, so not all that old.  We had tea at the pub, but there is also an RSL Club that does meals from Wednesday to Sunday.  When we left the following morning we discovered there are also two motels.  All this for an area of only about 200 residents.  The highway traffic and distance from other towns (over 100kms each way) probably helps sustain all of these.


We even found a few flowers on the side of the road (no, not from someone's garden) to put in the little orange vase I'd found at an op shop. (We buy strange souvenirs.)  They looked cute on the table.


Our last day of travel was over familiar ground.  However, we were looking forward to seeing a new feature in the little town of Weethalle.  This was only officially opened last month.  The artist has done a fabulous job.  There are quite a few silos being turned into art installations.  Hopefully we will see some more on our travels.  When we were at Coonable in June they were just starting to paint theirs.  I'm sure we will see it at some stage.


We enjoyed seeing lots of wattle in bloom.  We have seen bits and pieces, but this was the first big area in bloom.  It really looks a picture in amongst the bush.


There was also some canola in bloom.  Way earlier than you see it in our area.


It was also nice to see some healthy looking crops.


And hills and valleys.  It is great fun exploring the big sky country of Australia's interior, but I always enjoy returning to our local area and landscape.


At home we were treated to a lovely sunset, with fine weather forecast for the next few days before another cold change.


Joey was pleased to see us.  As soon as Mick sat down, he was straight on his lap, purring away.  He has been our little (okay, not so little) shadow since our return.

The one thing that was hard to take was yesterday morning seeing the very white frost and this morning the very white frost and fog.  Aahh!  The joys of a Bathurst winter, but we have had lovely days.

Now we are getting things unpacked and settling back into home life.  It seems that our two holidays just weren't meant to be at the moment, but that is okay, there will be another time.  

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Crossing the Border

We continued on our mystery travels on Wednesday, heading east.


One thing we had noticed in Waikerie was the TV aerials.  I've no idea what the reception is like these days, as we didn't have the telly on at all while we were away,  but it obviously has been an issue, with all the tall aerials.  Quite a sight.


As we headed out of town we followed a sign to a lookout.  It is Hodders Bend and has a popular camping ground beside the river.  It was nice to see some of the stunning river cliffs.

You will have to forgive most of my following photos as they were taken out of the ute as we were driving along and have either reflections or windscreen grime. 


The next town we travelled through was Berri.  There were loads of vineyards in the district, huge expanses.  The trellissing must cost a fortune and take simply ages to install.  They are all so precise.  Some vineyards are all pruned, while some haven't been done as yet.  We saw where a few had been removed, but there were new plantings as well.


We also noticed a couple of huge wineries.  The scale was somewhat different to our old next door neighbour's enterprise, but he was still a prize winner.


Berri was a nice town beside the Murray River.  The information centre had a lovely cafe, so we partook of coffee and cake while enjoying this scene.  Rather hard to take.  We learnt that the bridge you can see was only opened in 1997.  Before that all traffic still had to use a ferry to cross the river.  That must have been so inefficient for such recent times.


Of course we had to take a photo of the Big Orange as we drove past.


The next large centre we drove through was Renmark.  Unfortunately, our trip was just travelling at this stage and not really playing the tourist.  We had to briefly call into a supermarket and were somewhat bemused at this motorhome.  It all looked a tad rough, but it seems to work.


Once again we crossed the Murray and the bridge this time was interesting.  It had been an opening bridge, which is no longer used.  They have added a lane for the traffic on either side.  The lanes were only just wide enough.  Rather nerve wracking.  You wonder why they didn't make them just a foot or so wider.  I'd hate to be taking a large semi trailer over it.


We had travelled through various fruit fly quarantine areas in our travels, meaning we had to pretty much buy our veges daily.  This was the final quarantine station we saw.  There are no restrictions as you leave South Australia.


And then we were in Victoria.  No big fancy signs or areas to take a photo, such as when you enter South Australia or Western Australia.


We were noticing crops on one side of the road, but it was still salt bush on the other side.


If you look closely at the above photo you will see lots of animals in the crop.  No, it is not sheep or cattle, it is emus (OK, so they are birds not animals).  There were so many that at first glance you thought it was a mob of cattle.  The farmer would not be pleased to have them grazing on his crop like that.


Eventually, we started to look for somewhere to have our lunch.  We came to a little place called Lake Cullulleraine.  After finding a poorly signposted turnoff we found a delightful picnic ground beside the lake.  There were heaps of Little Corellas making a racket.  As I was taking this photo a couple of council workers came by and said they couldn't believe I was doing that.  They told us that they are incredibly destructive and we could take them with us if we liked.  We noticed later quite a few eating a shade cloth over a playground, so we see what they meant.


There were also several swamp hens.


We noticed that the weather was looking decidedly dark to the south, but we were lucky and it stayed away.

Our destination that night was Mildura, where we stayed in a caravan park in town.  It was very convenient to the supermarket, but it was quite tight for maneuvering the van.  We have visited Mildura in the past, as a Ulysses Rally was held there, so we didn't mind too much at not having a look around this time.

Just a couple more days and we would be home.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Heading East

As I mentioned earlier, our exploration plans have once again changed.  Just as well we didn't really have any plans, as such, to change.


Before we moved on we did have time to explore a bit more of Burra.  Our first port of call was the site of the Unicorn Brewery, which had in its day supplied all the local pubs.    Most of the buildings have long since been demolished.  However, there were lots of these little roofs dotted across the site.


They are the vents from the underground cellars.  You'd want to watch your head on the arches.  Me, I had no worries at all.


There was quite a labyrinth of cellars under the buildings, all still very intact. 


This is part of the Paxton Terraces.  There are three rows like this around a square.  We didn't have time to visit the one that is on display.  They were built by the mining company for their workers.  In the 1980s the Council bought them and turned then into accommodation.  I think it would be lovely to stay in one of them.


Our final historic site was the old mine workings.  Initially there were lots of shafts for underground mining.  Not long before the mine closed in the 1870s they tried the new fangled method of open cut, but the ore at that stage was not of sufficient quality to be viable.  In the 1970s they reworked the area and increased the open cut to the size it is today, before they too ran out of viable ore.  Apparently that water is about 50 metres deep.  Water was a major problem for the mine during its lifetime.


There are a few major buildings still standing, particularly the engine houses, so similar to those in Cornwall, which is no coincidence, as most of the miners were Cornish.  The building on the left houses a museum.  


It originally housed a Beam Engine to run pumps and boilers etc.  This is a scale model.  


A total restoration was carried out in the 1980s, with all new timbers installed.  I couldn't get over the size of the beams, but that is what would have been required to support the Beam Engine.


The buildings look so interesting against the sky.


We went for a little walk up the hill to see the two chimneys.  Square chimneys were built by the Welsh.


Round chimneys by the Cornish.


The tops of the round chimneys were bricked, which must have been easier to work with as the diameter reduced.  They look good, anyway.


There is a chimney at the entrance to the town.  It was located in the mining area that was to be included in the enlarged open cut in the 1970s, so they dismantled it and rebuilt it at its present site.  Now that is one heck of a jigsaw puzzle.


If you look closely there is a little tin man standing on top of the chimney.  That is Johnny Green.  The tourist drive and booklet is called the Johnny Green Route.  We thought it was just a touristy gimmick, but no.  Johnny Green was not a real person.  In the early days the tin cut out used to live on the building that is now the museum (you can see him in some of the early photos) and he was the mine's mascot.  Just a bit of trivia we learnt along the way.


It was now late morning so time to have a cuppa.  We found a rather cute tea rooms in town.


As we would be on the road for a while now, we had an early lunch.  What the heck, let's try another version of a pasty.  This one was yummy too.  Don't worry, that is the last one I had, or I would be starting to look like a pasty.


As we headed on our way we were enjoying having a nice sunny day and saw some lovely countryside.


However, it wasn't long before we were back in the salt bush country.  Yes, we had once again crossed the Goyder Line into the arid areas.


As we were travelling east, we were entering the Murray Riverland area.  Somewhere we haven't been before, as we have only been as far as Mildura previously.


Our first stop was the old river port of Morgan.  It has some lovely old buildings.


We were both taken with the "Rail to River" play area built by the Lions Club. It even had paving laid to look like railway tracks. We noticed right along the Murray that the various service clubs seem to be very active, with parks, op shops, roadside maintenance and other projects.  Good on them.


Yes, he's still just a little boy at heart.


There was even a ferry crossing the river.  


To Mick's delight our route took us on the ferry.


Before long we started to see the benefits of Murray River irrigation.  Lots of riverland vineyards, featuring quite a few names we knew of.


We also saw lots of citrus orchards.


When we arrived at the pretty town of Waikerie we decided to call it quits for the day.  We had excelled ourselves and travelled 120kms this time.  I'm not quite sure how we manage such distances.  The caravan park we stayed in is the newest in South Australia, with some buildings still receiving the final touches.  It is so well designed and also fronts the river. A lovely spot to stay.  


We went for a walk to try and get some sunset photos over the river, but it sets too far around.  It was the first decent sunset we have seen since we left home.




The light over the river was lovely.



As was the changing western sky.

A lovely way to end the day.