Broken Hill

Feb 22 to 26  Broken Hill is known as the edge of the outback and we can confirm this to be the case. Broken Hill is also the ‘BH’ in the big Australian, BHP, the company being formed because of the immense silver deposits found here in the 1800’s. On the way we pass a tribute to R M Williams the founder of the famous bush outfitter. In Broken Hill we visit the home of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the impressive Broken Hill Sculptures. On a visit to a local museum, imagine our surprise to be asked to be photographed by the local newspaper.

                       

A much bigger surprise happened the following day when we went to Silverton, famous as the place where many Aussie films have been made such as Prescilla, Mad Max and A Town Like Alice. We went into the local museum and the girl behind the counter asked us if we were the same people that were on the front page of the local newspaper – definitely a slow news day !!

        

We play a round at the Broken Hill Golf Course and meet some of the local friendly emus. (Bob wins the par comp with an unprecedented +8).

  

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Port Broughton

Feb 19 to 22  We reluctantly begin our long return trip to the Sunshine Coast by heading north from Adelaide to Port Broughton, a small community on the east coast of the Spencer Gulf for a spot of fishing – nothing major to report there ! One interesting stop on the way was to visit a very small town  – named Dublin !!

  

Adelaide – West Beach

Feb 5 to 19  West Beach is about 10 kms west of Adelaide, near the airport and close to Glenelg (Adelaide’s version of Melbourne’s St Kilda). We book into this large but very comfortable caravan park for a well-earned rest from the road – a 2 weeks stay.

     

Feb 6 – Bob’s birthday – Siobhan arranges a trip to a romantic Italian restaurant in Adelaide.

  

We take it easy for the rest of the stay in Adelaide but still manage visits to the McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills wine regions, Victor Harbour, Port Adelaide a couple of games of golf at Adelaide Shores and West Lakes and finally travel to see where the mighty Murray Darling River finally meets the ocean. Bob also has a couple of games of squash at the local Glenelg club and also went to the Adelaide Oval to watch the one-day game between Australia and India. A final treat was a visit to the Festival Theatre to see Ronan Keating and Sharon Corr (of The Corrs fame) – a truly fantastic show.

           

Tanunda and the Barossa Valley

Feb 3,4  Tanunda lies at the heart of the famous Barossa Valley, one of Australia’s premier wine growing areas, about 2 hours north east of Adelaide. Having visited many and varied wine growing areas on our travels and having sampled much those areas have to offer, we have decided not to visit any more wineries or cellar doors. Why ? Two reasons : we are yet to sample a wine that we do not feel obliged to purchase (at inflated prices at the cellar door), and : buying wine at large retailers is much cheaper !!

     

The Whispering Wall is the damn wall for the Barossa Valley dam at Williamstown. It is so called because one person can literally whisper something close to the wall at one end and it can be heard clearly more than 100 metres away at the other end of the wall.

  

The famous restauranteur, Maggi Beer is based in the Baroosa and we visit her farm and watch a cooking demonstration. That evening we have dinner at a beautiful Asian restaurant in town. After dinner imagine our surprise when we stop for a final glass of wine at another wine bar and there she is herself, Maggie Beer. See if you can spot her in the background behind Siobhan.

     

Berri, South Australia

Jan 31 to Feb 2  Berri features a great riverfront with plenty of areas for picnics or playing sport and also includes floating wharf platforms, lookouts, historic monuments and an indigenous bridge mural. The town is situated on the banks of the Murray River right in the heart of the Riverland region. Berri was originally part of Cobdogla Station and a mooring place for paddle steamers. The town of Berri takes its name from the Aboriginal word ‘bery bery’ meaning ‘bend in the river’ and was proclaimed in 1911. Berri is surrounded by over 3000 hectares of irrigated orchards and has become notable as a fruit processing town. A large percentage of canned fruit and juice come from Berri.

As we cross the border into South Australia, we pass through the fruit fly exclusion zone and have to leave all fruit and some vegetables behind.

The Murray River has now become the Murray / Darling and has taken on the colour of the Darling – more of a grey than the old brown of the Murray. We see some of the most stunning scenery so far with colourful sandstone cliffs running along the river. 

We play the local Berri golf course – Siobhan wins the ladies comp and Bob comes 3rd in the mens. Yet another friendly country golf course, a pleasure to play.

                 

Mildura / Buronga

Jan 24 to 30  Mildura is quite a large town on the VIC side of the Murray and we stay at a lovely park just over the bridge on the NSW side of the river at Buronga. We originally planned for 4 days but end up staying a week. Mildura is one of the premier fruit growing regions of Australia, producing 95% of Australia’s dried vine fruit. It is also famous for its almonds, pistachios, asparagus, carrots, citrus and melons.

More fishing (just carp again but this time big ones !). We meet a couple, Harvey and Sandy, who were next to us when we stayed at Healesville – small world. Our van is sited right next to the river and we enjoy the view every day.

        

Mungo National Park, 110 kms north of Mildura, is the focal point of the Willandra lakes world heritage area, with 17 dry lakes. The highlight of the region is a 33 km crescent shaped dune following the curve of the (now dry) lake, called The Walls Of China. Mungo Man and Mungo Woman are skeletons dating back over 40,000 years which were found in the area. There are 90 kms of unsealed road to get to the Walls of China. Unfortunately, the weather deteorated on our journey and we could not go any further than the ranger station on the dry lake bed. Our 4 wheel drive looked really professional after the trip !! We did see some great wildlife though.

     

The Paddle Vessel Rothbury was built in 1881 at Gunbower, Victoria on the Murray River. Built as a large and powerful Tow Boat, employed in towing barges for the Wool and Logging Trade. She was well known even then, to be one of the fastest Tow Boats. The Rothbury was brought to Mildura in 1909 by Permewan Wright & Company who had an extensive establishment in Mildura, sharing the trade to the district with the Chaffey owned company, the second River Murray Navigation Company. The Rothbury now takes tourists on Murray River trips and we thoroughly enjoyed ours which took us through one of the major locks on the river.

     

Jeff and Faye Chappell were also staying close to Mildura and we arranged a game of golf at Coomealla G C which was a lovely country golf course.

Swan Hill

Jan 20 to 23  Swan Hill is our next stop as we head west along the Murray River. Our site is directly on the river bank and this leads to a renewed interest in fishing for Bob. Unfortunately, there is an abundance of the introduced carp and that is all we catch. It is the law that all carp caught must be killed and cannot be returned to the river alive. Carp is to the Murray River as the cane toad is to Queensland. However, we are visited each evening by a beautiful heron that accepts the smaller carp as a welcome dinner offerring.

Cheese and corn were the most successful baits. Dont know how to keep the cheese on your hook ? Simple. Take a J cloth, cut it into a smallish square, sprinkle shredded Mozarella over the cloth, put into the Microwave until melted, put into the freezer, cut into small pieces which will stay on your hook due to the incorporated cloth.

The famous Pioneer Settlement takes us back to the mid 1800’s with original buildings, shops and transport. A fully restored vintage Dodge travels the streets along with a horse drawn carriage.

           

Lake Boga was an integral part of allied defence during World War II, with a facility that helped to keep Australia safe – the No.1 Flying Boat Repair and Service Depot. On the original site of the Depot, stands an underground Communications Bunker which has been transformed into the Flying Boat Museum. Also at the museum is an interactive map of the Pacific region and an informative 20 minute film in the theatrette about the importance of the site. The Australian Government had known the existence of Lake Boga as a potential site for flying boat activity as early as 1938. It was not until the Japanese attacks on Broome in 1942, resulting in the loss of 16 flying boats, that the establishment of a safe haven for flying boats and amphibians was deemed ‘Essential To The Defense Of Australia.’ Lake Boga was an ideal stretch of water for the flying boats and amphibious aircraft as it was almost circular (offering unlimited choice of landing/take off direction) and free of obstructions. The required infrastructure was already in place. Vacant land around its foreshore, an adjacent railhead and highway, electricity from the Swan Hill power station and lines of communication.

  

Java Spice is an Asian Restaurant in Swan Hill that had an excellent reputation. Note the ‘had’. Our experience was not a pleasant one. Thank heavens for TripAdvisor where we can warn others what to expect.

  

We have a hit of golf at Murray Downs which has wide fairways and could do with a few more challenges !