09.10.2014 - 09.10.2014 23 °C
Buronga to Martins Bend (C6 # 163) near Berri. This morning Adrian and Rilla advised, that due to urgent family reasons they would be returning home. We understood their situation and wished them both Godspeed. The previous plan had been for them to depart about now as they wished to travel the whole length of the Murray but as we had seen the lower reaches four years ago had decided to head into South Australia at this stage.
The difficulties in travelling along the Murray River is accentuated by two critical factors – the most important being the very strict quarantine regulations to keep out imported fruit flies (mainly from Queensland). The arrival of these pests would devastate a large and very productive fruit industry employing many thousands of people and making many millions of export dollars. This quarantine requirement covers both NSW and Victoria but crossing backwards and forwards across State borders further complicates buying fruit and vegetables as one moves in and out of quarantine zones.
We made a decision early on to buy canned or frozen fruit and vegetables and so avoid legal problems and heavy fines. This certainly helped in managing the quarantine but not everyone makes suitable decisions and therefore get caught.
So, today we have to keep NSW and Victoria happy but also South Australia as we enter that State today and, another pain, and have a further change in clock times! However, we headed off toward the small but famous town of Wentworth. The road took us past more vineyards and fruit orchards with a few olive farms to add variety. Once again the complete contrast between the semi-arid un-irrigated land with the regularly irrigated farms shows how important water from the Murray River is to support many communities along its banks for many hundreds of kilometres.
The town of Wentworth is an old town with Australia’s oldest purpose-built gaol. The other point of fame is the junction of the Murray and Darling rivers – both large rivers covering thousands of square kilometres of Australia. Both are also famous for the hundred plus years of paddle steamers operating up and down both river systems conveying wool and general cargo.
Morning tea on the banks of the joined rivers and then back on the road towards Waikerie in South Australia. Similar farming to recent days and then massive wheat fields as far as the eye could see. As it was a nice sunny day it was quite a nice trip, with the only excitement being a fruit and vegetable inspection at the Quarantine stop in SA.
The other bit of excitement was crossing the Paringa Bridge over the Murray as this is an old ‘lift’ bridge allowing houseboats to pass under the bridge after one span was hydraulically ‘lifted’ sufficiently high for the boat to pass under the span. Obviously the Sturt Highway had to be closed temporarily while this happens!
We reached Martins Bend (C 6 #163 SA) as an (almost) free campsite just outside the well-known town of Berri – famous for its grapes and fruit products. The local council owns the land, that includes a basic toilet, and now charges $5 per site per night. A nice spot near to the river and adjacent to the local Water-skiing Club. Suitable for dry weather only as the river clay would bury your rig if it got really wet!