This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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1999 Travels April 16


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


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!


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?