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 !

Barham

Jan 14 to 20  Continuing west we stop at Barham. The caravan park is one of the best we have stayed at on the trip. We are right on the Murray and very close to the town and its amenities. Imagine our surprise when we checked in and the owner told us there was another van here from the Sunshine Coast. What a surprise to see Jeff and Faye Chapple on a site just 50 metres away. Jeff and Faye (we know them from Pelican Waters Golf Club) were the couple we also bumped into last year at Yeppoon. They have been away since Christmas and are also making their way along the Murray.

We play golf at Barham Golf Club and also at Cohuna (locals pronounce it Coona), which is the home course of Stuart Appleby. Stuart’s father played in the small Sunday comp we played in. Both Barham and Cohuna are great typical examples of country golf clubs surviving with few members and great volunteer workforces. The 5th hole at Barham is known at ‘Gallipoli’ – take a look at the bunker in front of the green and you will see why.

There is a lovely redgum statue river walk with many wooden statues sculptured out of huge redgums using a chainsaw. One of the statues is a likeness of Stuart Appleby.

                 

Echuca / Moama

Jan 10 to 13  We move west to Echuca (twinned with Moama in NSW), which is ,unfortunately and disappointingly, in the middle of large upgrades to all the tourist sites along the River. There are quite a few of the famous paddle steamers at Echuca but they could also do with some updating ! We play golf at Rich River on a very windy day. Weather is still very hot.

        

The Murray River

Jan 3 to 9  Our first experience of the great Murray River occurs at Yarrawonga. First impressions – not that big and very muddy !! Yarrawonga, which is in Victoria,  is twinned with its sister town Mulwala over the river in New South Wales. We find this situation very often and it goes back to the time when poker machine gambling was banned in Victoria but not in NSW. Hence, these ‘twin towns’ developed all along the Murray.

We play golf at Yarrawonga Mulwala, at Cobram and also at Howlong, where Siobhan blows away the competition with 43 points ! Howlong was a typical example of a really friendly country golf course, a pleasure to play. Note the picture taken at Yarrawonga which shows the flood water level in 1993.

Rutherglen is famous for its ‘stickies’ – impossible not to sample some and invest in a couple of bottles. Take a look at the photo of the sand greens at the Rutherglen Golf Club.

Yarrawonga / Mulwala is the site of the first of many weirs along the Murray. As a result the huge man-made Lake Mulwala provides a large body of water for all kinds of water sports – providing you can avoid the thousands of dead trees !!

The weather is now heating up with most days aver 30 degs – even the local sheep have to take to the shade of a tree !