FRIDAY JULY 17 MILDURA TO BROKEN HILL 332kms
It was another cool and cloudy day.
I was up at 8am and walked Couey along the river path again. On the way back, up a different track to the park, I noticed a sign pinned to a tree warning that rabbit bait had been laid in the area. I had never heard of the substance mentioned and there was no indication if it would be harmful to dogs. Couey had been free ranging along the path but I hadn’t seen her snaffling anything. Mind you, she could be very quick and furtive, because she knows I get cross with her for eating anything apart from meals and treats provided by us. I think the dingo ancestry in cattle dogs makes opportunistic eating a hard trait to train out of them.
Left the park at 10.15. The manager had said, yesterday, to let him know when we were going, and he’d lift the “in” gate up for us to use, as the angle was much better for a rig our length. Such a helpful man. I didn’t really need to call in at the office to tell him – I had Couey on the lead and once she heard Bus start up, I think half of Mildura knew it was on the move – without her!
This was definitely our park of choice in Mildura, now.
The GPS tried to direct us to avoid going into town, by going west via Merbein. This was quite logical from where we were. But John wanted to stock up on citrus at the Orange World farm complex, so we drove back into Mildura, across the Murray and out through Buronga.
Stopped at Orange World, a few kms out of Buronga. As the plan was – I thought – to buy a bag of mandarins, I was OK with John going in alone and I would stay in Bus to alleviate dog dramas. He returned with a whole box of mandarins that he thought were a bargain for $15. But he’d also bought three jars of marmalade – orange, ruby grapefruit, and lime and ginger – that were $6 each, two jars of orange blossom honey (with an attached citrus peeler) that were $10 each, a $6 bag of lemons. He was given a free bag of oranges. Some of the produce would be gifted to his daughter in Broken Hill, but that was still a hell of a lot of citrus. Buying the lemons hurt – our tree at home was laden, but of course we couldn’t bring fruit into the quarantine area around Mildura.
I don’t bring jams away with us as John is a Type 2 diabetic. It appeared that I had been outflanked this time and marmalade was going to replace vegemite on his breakfast toast.
Passed the nearby Stanley Winery. It is absolutely huge – and expanding.
Part way to Wentworth, turned right at a T intersection. At this point, the Silver City Highway begins and this was where the GPS had wanted to bring us via the other side of the river.
Crossed the Darling River at Wentworth. The river was full. This rather surprised me, in view of the extended drought in the upper catchment regions.
We were soon into saltbush and sheep country.
Scrub country beyond the irrigated areas
Stopped at the Seven Trees Rest Area to switch to me driving. I hadn’t driven Bus for almost two years. It felt a bit strange at first. Of course, I received much ongoing instruction from the passenger! He preferred me to drive much more in the centre of the road, when there was no oncoming traffic, than I was comfortable with. He was just not used to seeing the fog line disappearing under the little side window in the footwell of the passenger’s side.
He soon fell asleep for a short time. Was much better when he was asleep….
I pulled into the Popiltah Rest Area, as we usually did on this route, for lunch and to give dog a run.
There were signs up warning to beware of the bees, and even a sign in the toilet to check under the seat for same!I won’t elaborate on the mental images that conjured up. As it was cold and windy, I think all the bees were tucked away cosily elsewhere – we didn’t see a one.
Because of the weather, we ate in Bus.
Saw the first of a number of triple trailer trucks going past, heading south, carrying dirt or ore of some kind. Found out later that there was a mineral salts extraction operation nearby.
Triple trailer road train
After we started off again, for several kms the picture on the GPS showed us driving through water. Supposedly, the road is in Coombah Lake. Along here, there was a series of lakes along the lower ground, Popiltah being one, filled occasionally when there are floods.
Came to a sign saying unfenced road – and the roadside fences disappeared for a while. At the same time, regular little heaps of white bones kept appearing beside the road.
We saw lots of goats beside the road, in small herds. Saw a set of small stockyards and thought they might be holding yards for goats. Increasingly, pastoralists in these parts are seeing goats – both feral and farmed – as an extra source of income. Saw some black faced sheep grazing near the road. A ewe was feeding twin lambs – one on either side of her, with their little tails waggling furiously.
Goats beside the road
Saw signs directing off to a gold exploration operation. I did not know that there was gold in the area to the south of Broken Hill.
Changed drivers again, as John was tiring. I was supposed to stop just south of Broken Hill, to change back and allow him to drive us through town. However, by then, there was a big truck following me very closely and I didn’t get a chance to pull off the road. I was quite happy driving us through town and out to the caravan park, anyway.
We went, as usual, to the Broken Hill Tourist Park ,arriving about 2.30pm. I had booked our stay here before we left home, asking for en-suite site 9, if it was possible. And that’s where they put us – great! It is a nice big site, with a fence on one side, so is a good area for Couey to be tethered. The park was very busy, as I had expected. Our site cost $42.50 a night, after discount.
After set up, John phoned his daughter. He was surprised to find she had finished work early and spent the afternoon at home. He thought this was because of our arrival and felt guilty for not making more of an effort to arrive earlier. Much apologizing. Next day, she let slip that it was because she had not been feeling well!
We had been looking forward all day to buying fish and chips for tea and maybe sharing same with daughter. But she told John she was on a diet and no longer eating take away foods. Hmmm….
Drove to her place, with Couey in the back of Terios. Upon arrival we were greeted with a statement that we couldn’t have the dog in the house or yard because it would upset her cats. She had given away the dog she had last time we were here, in 2013. So Couey spent a few hours in the car, apart from when I went out and took her for a walk around a couple of blocks. The blocks in that part of Broken Hill are huge and we walked a long way.
When we got back to the car, parked in the driveway, I was about to put Couey back in the car, when one of said cats came thought the side fence. It puffed itself up, hissed really loudly at Couey, and advanced on her. Couey jumped into the car in a big hurry. Who was going to upset who, I wondered?
We were going to return to Bus, buying fish and chips on the way for our tea, but daughter decided she would cook up some pasta. She warmed up a tin of tomatoes to go with it. I think the pasta was rather stale; the parmesan she put out was months past its use-by date. A token gesture, in all. She kept feeling her neck glands, so we left as soon as possible. Arranged she would come to Bus tomorrow, and I would cook steak. It pays to be specific, in advance.
Daughter mentioned several maintenance type things that needed doing round her house and it was arranged that John would go round there tomorrow at 1pm to tackle the work.
We were back at Bus at 7pm, local time. Watched football on TV.
It was a very cold night.