MONDAY 27 APRIL ECHUCA TO HAY 200kms
Due to the rain we had not done any preliminary packing up, so it was well gone 10am before we pulled out of the caravan park.
A little hiccup had occurred when we couldn’t find the locking pin for the Treg bolt. It must have been loose in the van boot somewhere. This was pretty full of “stuff”, so we eventually used the spare I kept in the cutlery drawer. Must remember to replace that.
In the continuing rain, we drove north into NSW and on to Deniliquin. The road roughly paralleled the Murray River or tributaries, with swampy sections or billabongs coming close in a couple of places. But overall it was not particularly interesting – mostly broad grazing country. Tree lines marked creeks or rivers and the occasional homestead complex provided something different to look at, as did the small town of Mathoura, about half way.
In Deniliquin, we pulled into the van parking area so thoughtfully provided, and walked to the nearby shops to buy papers. John wanted the football post mortems from the weekend.
Whilst walking, saw a big flock of silvereyes in some bushes.
We stopped to look at a community art work project – featuring utes (utility vehicle) as objects of art. I took a photo of the very first one of these that had been completed – a mosaic covered ute. “Deni” had attempted to tackle the difficult task that faces such rural towns these days, of finding some unique niche that would attract visitors. Their quite successful solution had been to run an annual ute muster – a kind of festival and get-together for ute enthusiasts from all over the country. The art project was a spin off from that, I guessed.
We headed north again, out onto the Hay Plains. Flat, featureless, unattractive, especially in the continuing rain. According to some sources, the Hay Plains are the flattest part of Australia. Not only were they flat, but barren too.
After some time of the monotony of the plains, a single, tall dead tree came into view, with a big eagle’s nest in its few branches. It was so stark and somehow symptomatic in its deadness, that we simultaneously said “photo”.
The bitumen part of the road here was a bit narrow, so John pulled off onto the gravel verge – and down we sank! I couldn’t believe it.
Truck’s driver side wheels were about 1cm off the bitumen, the van wheel on that side was still on it. But we couldn’t drive out of it – trying only made the van start to move sideways, sliding down the roadside slope, threatening to pull Truck down backwards with it. It didn’t take much imagination to envisage the van slid right down, at right angles to truck….
I went and took photos of the tree that was the cause of all this, while John pondered options. We had never before been bogged with the van on. As with previous times we had bogged Truck, there was never an accessible tree or pole within cooee to attach the winch to. There must be some sort of rule of stuck vehicles – like, never where convenient or easy.
While we were trying to come up with some solution, a 4WD came along. This was not a very frequently trafficked road, either. We waved him down. He turned around – very cautiously – and came back to us.
We used our snatch strap and he pulled us forward and thus out – carefully, but easily.
We were very relieved. It just seemed so ridiculous, given all the hairy places we had taken the van, to be bogged on the verge of a made highway!
Later, we found out that this section of the plains is called the Black Swamp. That explained why I felt the ground was spongy underfoot, when I walked up a little track to take my photos. I also found out later, that the Black Swamp was supposed to be haunted by the ghost of a dead drover, who appeared as a horseman riding – but without a head! Given the nature of the country here, it was believable! Not somewhere I would want to do an overnight camp, for sure.
We drove on to Hay – carefully and uneventfully. Decided to stay the night here. It was still raining, and we’d had enough adventures for one day!
Went into the Hay Plains Caravan Park, for $21.60, after discount. We were able to stay hitched up, which was a bonus.
Did get a bit damp, doing the minimal set up, and felt the need for some exercise, so – despite the rain – walked to the shops. This took us across the bridge over the Murrumbidgee River – like the Murray had been, very low.
At the Visitor Information Centre, I collected some propaganda, otherwise called tourist information. There was a featured display of local postcards, prominent amongst them one of THAT tree! It kind of added insult to injury. I bought one to send to grandson; thought I could spin a pretty good story on it, for him.
We found a hardware store and bought a new coupling pin, to be the spare in the cutlery drawer.
The forecast was for very cold nights in inland NSW, this coming week. Not sure this trip is getting any better……