This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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1999 Travels April 19

MONDAY 19 APRIL     MILDURA

It was another pleasant sunny day.

We drove to the shops and collected my photos, which were a motley assortment taken during our time back home. At a Disposals and camping store, purchased some gaiters for John. I have some, with me, that date from my bushwalking days, but now that we are venturing north, he could do with some for when we walk. Bought bread rolls from a bakery and ate them for lunch as we went.

Visited Stanley Wines at Buronga, across the river in NSW. We were slightly put out to find that their cellar door prices for their wine casks were no cheaper than in the supermarkets.

We drove on to Wentworth. There we went out to the Perry Sandhills, west of the town. These are a large area of windblown sand dunes, dating from the last Ice Age, that are still on the move. They were impressively vast.

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The Perry Sandhills

Then we went back to the river, to go see the junction of the Darling and Murray Rivers. Having long been intrigued by the river boats era of our history, I felt some satisfaction at being at this point, which would have been such a significant one for so many river boat journeys. We walked around for a while in this area, and spotted a new bird – a lemon coloured blue cheeked rosella, which is a Murray Mallee variant.

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The junction of the Darling – to left – and Murray Rivers

Lock 10 on the Murray is at Wentworth and we looked at that. It is a different one to Lock 11, in that it is at one side of a weir, not separate from it. But the operating principles are the same.

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Lock 10 at Wentworth. The actual lock is at the left of the weir, in shadow. The concrete section is permanent; the part to the left can be removed in floods.

We drove back via Merbein, crossing the river on a bridge not far from Wentworth and driving back south of the river. This made it a neat round trip. Drove 90 kms today.

We called in at the Library, and I borrowed two more books.

Tea was veal in lemon-herb sauce – very nice.

After tea, John phoned daughter R.


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1999 Travels April 18

SUNDAY 18 APRIL     MILDURA

I was rather weary in the shoulders and neck, after yesterday, so had a big sleep in.

Last night was not as cold as previously, and the day was sunny and 28 degrees.

After lunch, we rode the bikes to the river and then followed it – keeping as close as we could – on tracks and roads, around to the city. It was surprising how far this was and is a measure of how much the river winds around. It was a fun ride, though a bit sandy in a few places.

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Cycling on tracks beside the Murray River

The Apex Caravan park, by the river, looks alright, though it is in a rather “public” area.

We rode up through the centre of town and then back here, for a total of 20.2kms. So we were really weary after that.

Tea was ham and mushroom omelettes and salad. We cracked a bottle of bubbly.


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1999 Travels April 17

SATURDAY 17 APRIL     MILDURA

The day was a pleasant one – sunny, with some breeze.

I drove to shops for the morning papers, then spent much of the morning reading these.

We had to be at bowls at 1pm. John had told me that this was a “social” (i.e. casual) mixed pairs game, but that I should wear my white uniform. It turned out that he had not been exactly truthful and that it was mixed pairs for a perpetual trophy called the Smith Cup – and quite a major event. There were lots and lots of competitors, and I was sure I would be out of my league. We played three games of eight ends each. We actually won all three games, though I had a very nervous start, for the first half of the first game. John played brilliantly.

So, we are now the Smith Cup trophy holders for the next year! Our names will be engraved on the Cup – but it stays at the club. Fame at last! We also got $30 each as prize money. John suspected that the prize money would have been greater, had a local won it.

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We are the winners of the Smith Cup

So now John must play at least some of the big tournament that is coming up – he will be in demand. The Club Secretary has already snaffled him up for the chook prize Pairs on Tuesday afternoon!

Some of the ladies tried to get me to commit to playing in the Ladies Tournament that is held at Merbein, whilst the Men’s is on at Mildura. No way! I shall quit while I am ahead, here. The reason we won today was that John played brilliantly – not because of my skills. I do not want my deficiencies exposed! I told them I was going to do lots of reading, courtesy of the Mildura Library.

For tea, treated ourselves to pizza from the Pizza Hut, and also bought a couple of bottles of bubbly – which we then did not open tonight.

John phoned K and left a message about our win. He also phoned his brother in law and talked briefly about it. F does not think he will come up to Mildura to bowl.

We had a rather early night – both tired, from effort and exhilaration.


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1999 Travels April 16

FRIDAY 16 APRIL     MILDURA

We were up at 8.30. Again the day featured blue sky and sunshine, but the morning had a chill to it – long trousers were needed.

We drove to the town centre – like yesterday – but today were able to complete the tasks I had in mind.

We walked around the Mall shops. I put photos in for printing. Bought lottery tickets. Just got a sense of what shops there were, here.

I posted a birthday card and cheque to V.

Went to the Information Centre, and found it a most comprehensive one. The library was in the same place. I was able to join this, for a fee of $10, refundable when I was leaving town. I borrowed two books – all that is allowed at any one time. Can see I will be coming back here frequently, while we are here! But it is great to be able to read for free.

We visited the new Plaza shopping centre, but did not find it anything of note. Did a Woolworths shop, so we are stocked up again.

After lunch, we drove to Lock 11, which is not far from the bowls club.

The Murray River, of course, was extensively used in the 1800’s, by river boat traffic, although Wentworth, near the junction of the Murray and Darling, was the important settlement of those times. Then in the late 1800’s, it was decided to establish irrigated farming and Mildura began. A system of locks and weirs was built along the river to control the river levels; these also had to permit river boat traffic to continue.

Lock 11 at Mildura is in a channel that was dug through a bend of the river. There is a weir across the river at this point, so the Lock allows boats to miss this and continue on the river. Digging the channel created Lock Island.

We spent a couple of hours walking on the island, accessible across the top of a Lock “wall”, and watching paddle boats go through the Lock. It was kind of fascinating. One of the boats was the paddle steamer “Melbourne”, one of the original Murray River paddle steamers, with really interesting construction lines – wide and squat, because of the side paddle wheels.

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The paddle steamer Melbourne approaching Lock 11 from upstream

We watched the “Melbourne” approach the Lock from upstream. The downstream Lock gate was shut, so the water level in the Lock was the same as that for the boat. It maneuvered carefully into the Lock, the gate was shut behind it and the water level lowered, dropping the boat with it. Then the downstream gate was opened and the boat sailed out – at the lower level of the river, downstream from the weir. Nifty!

 

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Churning shows water being released from Lock; the boat is dropping inside the Lock

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The Melbourne steaming out of the Lock at the lower river level

At Lock 11, it is usual or average, for a boat to drop about 3.7 metres, in the Lock.

The river looked to be at a reasonably high level, though I guess it can be hard to properly tell, due to the system of weirs and locks.

There is a flood marker pole at Lock 11. Red lines on it indicate the flood levels of various years. It is hard to credit how high floods have been. The 1956 flood marker was about 2.5 times John’s height on the pole – and it is quite a height above the river, itself!

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The red lines on the pole show water height in various flood years

Tea was fish and chips. I felt they were too fatty – might try a different shop next time?


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1999 Travels April 15

THURSDAY 15 APRIL     MILDURA

We slept in until 10.30am. We must be exhausted from all that socializing we have been doing!

Got up to clear blue skies and a temperature of about 20 degrees.

After our late breakfast, drove to the main part of town, some 5kms away. I was aiming for the Information Centre and some shops, but John wanted to first check out the bowls club. There, he discovered that there was a mixed triples this afternoon, as well as singles on Saturday. He entered us in both! Ho hum – here we go again…..

We rushed back to the caravan park. While John got ready I made him a quick lunch, then I got ready, but had no time to eat anything.

The Mildura Bowls Club is quite a large one, at the eastern edge of town, not far from the river. John played skip, did quite well and enjoyed himself. My game was not very good; I played lead in a game of fours, organized because of surplus numbers. So I only had two bowls per end to worry about! The people were friendly enough, which is one of my main criteria for judging a club.

We were back at the van by 5.30pm. We had some beer and almonds, and then John only wanted soup for tea, so soup we had. I was quite hungry, not having really eaten all day, but couldn’t think of anything to make for just me. We have not had a chance yet to replenish our fruit and vegetable matter.

At bowls, John picked up an entry form and details for a big bowls tournament being held here in late April/early May. We may stay on here so he can play in it. I suggested he phone his brother in law to see if he was interested in coming up for it.

After tea, I started on writing a letter to our Caramut friends – by hand. I went to bed fairly early. The night was cold – it got down to 9 degrees! John played computer games till 3am.


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1999 Travels April 14

WEDNESDAY 14 APRIL   KERANG TO MILDURA   301kms

I had a very restless night, for some reason. Maybe there is something subconscious about heading off into the unknown again.

However, we woke to a great morning – crisp and sunny.

We got away well. Stopped to buy a newspaper in Kerang. John was not hassled by driving around the streets there, with the van on.

It was a very pleasant drive along the Murray valley, towards Mildura.

We refuelled in Swan Hill – 78cpl. That is a huge jump from what we paid at home!

At Boundary Bend, we found an area where we could park and eat lunch, overlooking the river. Saw a white plumed honeyeater.

Stopped at the Information Centre in Robinvale, mainly because it was easy to access, as we were passing. Bought almonds there – the area is a major almond producing one. There was a notice that was a job advertisement for casual harvest process workers, so we asked about it. It involves packing pistachio nuts, for $11 an hour. It would be standing all day and monotonous work it would be. They want females only for that. They also need a fork lift driver, which would be right up John’s alley – if only he had a fork lift licence! We decided not to apply.

We have discussed doing some emergency teacher work in another couple of years, in order to get the $3000-$4000 for the new computer that John wants. In the course of discussing work with the staff person at the Info Centre, were told that they are short of emergency teachers around here, and also need sessional teachers at the TAFE to teach basic computing. All is food for thought. But now that we have begun moving again, I really do not want to prop again for the length of time that something like that would involve.

In the meantime, we pushed on for Mildura, crossing the Murray at Robinvale, into NSW, and going through Euston.

Just out of Euston, we were pulled over at a mobile fruit fly inspection point. We had not given any thought to quarantine zones, and had not seen any signs about same on the back roads we had travelled. They took our new apples! And – brought from home – our kiwi fruit, lemons and figs. We hope we will not be fined – the inspector left that up in the air! It was not a nice feeling. I actually forgot we also had cumquats and guavas from home, tucked away, so they were not taken – whoops!

We were quite subdued as we continued on.

We booked into a very pleasant caravan park, on the northern edge of Mildura – a river front one – the Big 4 Golden River Caravan Park. It is not cheap, though. This week is holiday time, so we pay holiday rate – $109.80. And that is after the discount, and with the seventh night free. If we stay longer, subsequent weeks will cost $14.40 a night, with the seventh night free – that is better.

We had a calm, late afternoon set up, on a pleasantly shaded site.

This is an “organized” caravan park, with holiday activities and the like. We decided not to go to the organized wine tasting happy hour this afternoon. We would probably only have bought wines we can’t afford!

Tea was vegetables left over from last night, and sausages.

Phoned K to report our whereabouts.

I started up my computer. It says the printer is not installed!! What printer? It does not want to proceed further. While we were in Melbourne, John insisted on changing many of my computer programs to “bring them up to date” – even though I wanted them left as they were. Now, I don’t know what I’m doing, and it appears the computer does not, either. John gets very impatient if I ask him for help with such things. I feel un-empowered!

The night was cool. Maybe it is the effect of the nearby river?

I am pleased to be in Mildura, with time to look around. We have passed through several times previously, but never did more than overnight here.

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1999 Travels April 13

TUESDAY 13 APRIL   HOME TO KERANG   337kms

We got away well, at 10.30am. P and K watched us hitch up the van and were amazed at how easy it was – this time! Sad goodbyes were said to all pets. P and K were probably happy to see us go – they are in charge again!

P had asked to borrow all my photos of their wedding, with negatives, and also the ones that R had given us – so she and her mother could get copies of the ones they like. So I left all that with her, and with instructions that, when they were done with them, to put the lot on the bed in our room. In the event, I never did get any back, and so ended up with no photos of son’s wedding, apart from one that was on the tail end of the previous roll of film.

We travelled through the city and out the Calder Freeway. It was a relatively easy run.

At Harcourt John pulled over at a roadside stall and bought $10 worth of apples. It reminds him of “old times” when he used to live in the area and regularly bought Harcourt apples.

Once we got out of Melbourne, it began to feel warmer, and it was a great day, north of Bendigo.

We stopped at Serpentine and ate our packed lunch.

It is back into caravan parks again! We booked into the Kerang Caravan Park, for $13. We were able to stay hitched up. It was clean and on the edge of the Loddon River.

We spotted  new birds  near the river, at the caravan park – a mulga parrot, and a Red rumped parrot.

There is a decent looking bowls club at Kerang. They have big Easter and spring bowls carnivals – which John noted for future reference!

For tea I made an Asian style vegetable stir fry, with rice.

It is excellent to be on the move again

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