This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2010 Travels April 21

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.

Through the windscreen…..

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.

Bug screen

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.

Windscreen at Ouyen

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.

Bowling green Ouyen – with wild life…

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.

Occupying a site and a bit at Mildura

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.


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2007 Travels May 1

TUESDAY 1 MAY     BENDIGO TO MILDURA     415kms   

Grandson got to do his routine of waking up grandma – early! We had the expected cuddle in bed, before he had to go in for breakfast, and we got organized. It always surprises me, the simple things that give little kids so much joy.

We pulled out of the Bendigo driveway about 8.30am. Although coming across town yesterday, in what was after-school traffic, had been somewhat tense, the bonus for today was that we were on the “right” side of town, only a few blocks from the highway to the north west.

It was very foggy for the first hour or so, as we drove up the Calder Highway.

Stopped at Wedderburn to refuel – $1.30cpl.

Stopped at Ouyen, eating the sandwiches that I’d made this morning, and making coffee with hot water from the thermos carried in a basket in Truck. This always contained items that could be needed for a roadside break – plates, mugs, a knife, wipes and so on. It saved having to open up the van for such stops.

Ouyen has a very pleasant rest stop, centred around a feature made from a huge Mallee root. Looking at this, one could see why clearing this Mallee scrub country was such a challenge for the early settlers – and why the stump jump plough was invented. This machine, invented in the late 1800’s, as the more arid Mallee lands were being opened up, simply lifted up the plough blades when they hit a stump, and dropped them down again when the plough was over the obstacle.

Our overnight destination in Mildura was the Desert City Caravan Park. After discount, the powered site cost $20.70. This park was conveniently located within easy walking distance of a major shopping centre. Having been very good and not carried vegetables or fruit into the exclusion zone, we needed to stock up a little, here, on fruit and greens, so we made a brief foray over to the supermarket.

Sat outside in pleasant late afternoon sun, just chatting.

On Sunday, I’d cooked three chicken maryland pieces. These were rather a traditional first meal on the road for us. Marinated in lemon juice, sherry, soy sauce and garlic, then baked, they were really tasty – and kept well in the fridge. With some coleslaw – also made on Sunday, they were an excellent meal. I would not be catering, most of the time, for M, but some times when we were just overnighting in a place, it saved her having to unpack her cooking stuff from the Troopy.

Our fridge was definitely not cycling properly.


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2004 Travels March 27

SATURDAY 27 MARCH   MARONG TO MILDURA   386kms

Today’s was a comfortable stage.

Refuelled at Wedderburn. Diesel was 97cpl – making it 7c a litre dearer than at home.

Along the way, John realized that he’d left the plastic diesel jerrycan at home – hence the “empty” space in back of Truck, where he couldn’t remember what normally travelled there.

We took a break at Ouyen, at the very pleasant travellers’ rest stop there. I took a photo of the Big Mallee Stump that had been made into a display. This was a very large root system of the Mallee eucalypt that is endemic to the region. These trees are not all that tall, have multiple trunks, but have these massive root systems beneath the ground. It was evident why it had been so hard to clear this land for farming – and why the stump-jump plough was invented to deal with the problem.

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Big Mallee stump at Ouyen

It did not seem all that long until we were approaching Red Cliffs and then the outskirts of Mildura, moving from the arid mallee scrub country to irrigated farm land.

We booked into the Desert City Caravan Park. It was quite pleasant and adequate, and central. After discount, $18.90 a night.

Although the Park was by the main highway, traffic noise was not an issue.

We unhitched, but did not do a major set up, as we did not intend to stay here more than a couple of nights.

Went off to have a quick look around the shops in the complex across the highway. John bought some sneakers – Colorado ones. Costly, but comfortable on his hard-to-suit feet.

We bought fish and chips, from the supposedly good Sweet Lips shop. Very greasy and definitely not to be recommended by us!

We’d changed mobile phones shortly before coming away, and were still learning its tricks – much more convoluted than our very basic old one. I sent son a message – just to surprise him that I could do so. Received a reply about teaching an old dog new tricks! Also messaged daughter and she replied about how surprised she was!

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