A Travellerspoint blog

Buronga to Martins Bend

sunny 23 °C

Thursday 9th

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!

Posted by psstevo 15:48 Archived in Australia Comments (0)


sunny 20 °C

Wednesday 8th

Off to Bunnings to get some suitable screws to keep the microwave fixed in its compartment. That was the easy bit as we had a number of tricky bits to get it fitted, however, the task proved rather difficult and took a much, much longer time than planned. The ute cleaned and the water tanks refilled ready for departure towards South Australia tomorrow. A good night’s sleep would be good after today’s events.

Posted by psstevo 15:16 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Buronga and PV Rothbury

semi-overcast 21 °C

Tuesday 7th

Today was a cool and windy one and we wondered what our planned paddle-steamer trip would be like. As our ute was booked for a scheduled service I journeyed over the bridge and left it to be dealt with while we all anticipated our day out. Rob kindly collected me and drove me back to camp where we had a coffee before the trip.

Arriving early at the dock we enjoyed a view of a very weird vessel apparently owned and presented by a visiting sailor. A very weird sight indeed so I hope the pictures will be available to be uploaded in due course.

We soon boarded the Paddle Vessel Rothbury for our lunch cruise, along with just a few other passengers. The PV Rothbury had been built in 1881 as a freighter of wool and other cargo for some hundred years or so before falling river freight caused her conversion to a steam-driven vessel and later converted to diesel power.

Captain Stainton gave a great presentation of the history of the Mildura area, the Murray River famous paddle vessels as well as passing wildlife. Lunch was available, on an a la carte basis, at the riverside Gol Gol hotel. For me the claimed prawn and mango salad proved to be a great disappointment and so I felt obliged to try a nice desert substitute instead!

The return to port after lunch was very pleasant even though the breeze still remained quite cool. Upon disembarking we decided to drive to the nearby Lock 10 to view a passing paddle steamer use the Lock to ascend to the higher levels of the Murray River. An interesting sight that actually centred on cheeky pelican that had worked out that if they stayed close to the opening lock gates then it may get lucky with a feed of fresh fish or possibly some tidbit from the passengers.

Soon after a ‘wide load’ escort team arrived at our carpark with the usual flashing array of signs and lights advising us of an oversize truck. A massive 7.5M wide truck slowly drove down the access road causing parked drivers to frantically move their vehicles to avoid difficulties with the convoy.
A quick visit to the garage to regain our ute, all ready for another few thousand kilometres back on the highways and byways of Australia. The first requirement was to actually get a replacement microwave for the van so we finally bought a unit that would fit our compartment.
After day we managed some TV and had little trouble getting to sleep.

Posted by psstevo 20:06 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Mamanga to Burong (NSW)

storm 22 °C

Monday 6th

Mamanga to Buronga (NSW) was commenced with a concern over the weather for the next day or so as the forecast indicated serious wind conditions. The ‘red sky in the morning’ was an indication that a change was imminent. All decided that an earlier start was a good idea and so we all headed back onto the Sturt Highway and passed through Balranald enroute for Mildura.

The landscape continued very flat for most of the trip to Euston, a small town on the NSW/VIC border. It seemed to be a very pleasant spot with an excellent river-fronted caravan park and very tidy homes and streets. As there was a clean and cheap laundromat in town Mary and Rilla decided to get the main wash and dry done here as it may be wet on our arrival in Buronga. Morning tea filled most of the wait and then back on the road again.
Shortly after leaving Euston we noted a small roadside fire, apparently set maliciously. As we travelled we saw about a dozen similar fires at different roadside spots and then, as we neared Buronga, the first of three fire engines came flashing along the highway. Some of the fires looked quite threatening so they may have had their work cut out getting control of them all.

The scenery varied depending on whether the farmland was irrigated with Murray River water or not. The difference between the two being very marked. The irrigated land contained a great number of vineyards as well as other fruit trees, such as oranges and stone fruit.

Quite a few stretches of road were quite bumpy which slowed us down a bit but we made the Buronga Caravan Park, on the NSW banks of the Murray River. A very pleasant spot indeed and we looked forward to our stay – except for finding a replacement microwave!

As we already had the washing completed we soon after crossed the river into Mildura to check out the white goods stores. But to no great reward unfortunately.

The afternoon proved to be very windy so no awnings out and even kept the windows closed as the blustery evening with a few light skiffs of rain kept us preoccupied.

Posted by psstevo 20:04 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Mamanga again

semi-overcast 22 °C

Sunday 5th

We stayed another night (great idea) as there was some public event in the Mildura that had filled all the van sites there. A quiet day was enjoyed by us all and the heat of the afternoon had a few weary heads!! Maybe it was the fact that today was the first day of Daylight Saving in Victoria and New South Wales.

The booking we held for a caravan park near to Mildura had been secured from Monday 6th so that our ute could enjoy a routine service and, because the weather forecast included a possible overnight change to very windy conditions we made plans to leave the Mamanga site if rain should arrive. The grey clay along the major river systems is notorious in entrapping the unaware traveller. We did not plan on being caught out and so had an alternative plan overnight in Balranald. Fortunately that was not required.

Posted by psstevo 20:01 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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