WEDNESDAY 21 APRIL BENDIGO TO MILDURA 390kms
Had the usual early visitor to the van – it makes his day! This time, we took him back inside to his breakfast, to wish daughter a happy birthday for today.
We left Bendigo about 9am. I’d texted M, who had left Melbourne at 7am. The plan was that she would catch up with us today, probably somewhere before Mildura.
The country through to Sea Lake was very green, which was great to see. The long drought that had finally broken earlier this year, had brought lots of good rains.
We fuelled up at Sea Lake, then pulled into the park there to eat the lunch I’d packed this morning.
After Sea Lake, we encountered the prevailing locust plague, that we’d been hearing about. It was really bad, the thickest hordes I’d ever experienced. Guess that was the down side of the lush, green countryside. The nasty yellow splats of expired locusts built up and made the windscreen almost impossible to see out of.
In places, there were thick swarms on the road. We slowed to about 65kmh – they didn’t seem to splat quite so badly then! Truck was “wearing” John’s home made shade cloth bug screen across the radiator grille, because we’d known in advance the pests were up this way. The hope was that this would prevent the build up of dead insects in the radiator body – which if bad enough can wreck the radiator. This one was new – like much of Truck now.
I hoped M had remembered to fit her shade cloth, too.
We stopped at Mittyack to clean the windscreen, then went on to Ouyen. By now, there was a strong smell of cooked locust – yuk! At Ouyen, pulled into the excellent rest stop area. Cleaned the windscreen again.
The bowls club was next to the rest area, and there were locusts all over the green there. Trying to bowl on that would have been a rather unpleasant experience.
We hadn’t been there long, when M pulled in beside us. The Troopy was wearing its screen, and like us, lots of locusts.
The bugs did not seem quite so bad after Ouyen.
We decided to overnight at Mildura. It was enough for the day for John, and for M too, who had come further than us.
We pulled into one of the conveniently located caravan parks on the stretch just before the Sturt Highway intersection. The person on the reception desk was engaged in a personal phone call, and kept on having it for the best part of ten minutes, while I stood there waiting. I was about to walk out, when she decided to deal with me. I really wanted a drive through site, so we did not have to unhitch, but she said they were all occupied. So they were – mostly by unhitched rigs! Some people just do not want to back onto a site.
Since we really wanted to stay hooked up – John was tired enough without having to go through the unhitch routine – the helpful woman suggested we just back onto part of the site behind us – the occupied site behind us! She seemed to have no comprehension that this might not suit the occupants of that site. For this level of customer service, we paid $24.30, after chain discount. This was already mentally tagged as one caravan park we would not be returning to.
WE asked the people on the site behind us if they would mind if we intruded onto their patch, explaining what we’d been told. They were very nice and said it was alright. We actually did not have to go very far onto their site. It was a mixed blessing as they were smokers, so we had to keep the back window closed.
Set up was thus minimal. The clean up of locust carcasses took a lot more time.
We walked across to the nearby shopping complex, as I needed to buy some vegetable matter for tea. As we’d come into the fruit fly quarantine zone, I hadn’t brought any with me. We also need a new dishwashing brush, as the old one had been commandeered for locust removal.
The walk was good for all of us, after the day of driving.
It had been a hot day, in the low 30’s. There was some cloud build up as we drove through the day, and it became quite humid.
We sat outside our van, the three of us, having happy hour. It was great to be travelling together again – the last time had been 2007.
Tea was scotch fillet steak, mushrooms, salad.
John was happy with the new, small, flat screen TV he’d bought before we left, for the van. It replaced the one we’d travelled with since 1997. That had lasted well, considering that it was shifted every time we moved on, from bench to bed and then back to bench, plus the sometimes extreme conditions we’d been in. But it was old technology and John wanted a flat screen.
We were tired though and did not stay up late, TV or not.