This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2000 Travels December 12

TUESDAY 12 DECEMBER   MORGAN TO SWAN HILL   485kms

We got up at 6am and were away at 7.

Today seemed slightly cooler than yesterday.

We paralleled the Murray River much of the way to Renmark. Occasionally we caught glimpses of the river down in its valley.

Refuelled at Renmark – $1.06cpl.

Eastbound traffic does not have to stop at the quarantine checkpoint near the Victorian border, but we still did not want to carry plant material from other areas into the fruit growing area along the Victorian Murray, so I had not stocked up.

Thus, we stopped at the shopping centre on the edge of Mildura where I bought bread for lunch, and some salad materials for tea. Also bought an Age newspaper – great to have one of these again!

We had decided to follow the Murray for a couple of days, rather than drive the more arid and hot route to Melbourne through the Mallee. So we headed off into NSW for a short time, then crossed the river back into Victoria at Robinvale, and from there along the river to Swan Hill.

Ate lunch as we went.

We lost more time today as we crossed the border back into Victoria.

The Swan Hill Caravan Park, beside the Murray, was very pleasant. It cost $20 for the night. We were able to stay hitched up.

John holed up in the van, being justifiably tired, and read, with the air-con going. I walked along the river bank to town and back.

In the late afternoon, we sat outside the van, watching the sunset being reflected in the river water – beautiful.

Tea was again cold chicken pieces and salad.

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2000 Travels December 11

MONDAY 11 DECEMBER   COFFIN BAY TO MORGAN   691kms.

We got up at 5.45am, and were away just before 7am, after a final feed of our magpie friends.

Today was a long, hot, day of driving.

The first stage was along the eastern coast of the Eyre Peninsula. Our schedule did not allow for stops to look at, or explore, the number of potentially interesting small settlements along that coast.

We reached Port Augusta in good time. Refuelled truck at $1.02cpl.

The forecast here was for 38 degrees by midday!

We continued on, up through the Horrocks Pass, where the long climb up did raise the temperature level on Truck, somewhat.

Then it was on through Wilmington, and the rather flat grain growing country of the mid-north. As the road bent around, there were occasional glimpses of the blue Flinders Ranges behind us.

We stopped for lunch near Orroroo, at the giant red gum tree, an impressive specimen thought to be hundreds of years old.

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Very elderly red gum tree at Orroroo

Rather than stop at Peterborough or Burra, we decided to push on to Morgan, because that would break the back of the hot, arid country driving.

The last part, through the hottest part of the afternoon, was really hard going, but worth it because the dreariest part was over.

We got to Morgan at 4.15pm. It was still very hot.

At the Riverside Caravan Park, beside the mighty Murray River, we were able to stay hitched up. That cost $15.85.

I bought a few salad items from the park shop, to go with tea, but not much because I was not sure about fruit fly quarantine checks tomorrow.

With a salad, we had the chicken I’d cooked yesterday – very nice.

After tea, we walked along the river and through the historic area of this once busy riverboat port. Watched the vehicle ferry or punt, take the odd vehicle across the river.

The river level was surprisingly high.

With the sun gone, the walk was quite pleasant.

There was a huge, pink, anvil shaped cloud in the distance and, later, a huge full moon.

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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?