from Barossa to Home

16th August, 1994
17th August, 1994
18th August, 1994
19th August, 1994
20th August, 1994

Day 18 - Tuesday, 16th August, 1994

Blanchetown photograph

Lock No. 1 Blanchetown, South Australia

Drop cap eading back east now, we turned towards the Murraylands. First stop was Blanchetown and Lock No. 1 on the river. It was quite large and very well maintained with a long weir holding the water back and a large guardian flotilla of pelicans and cormorants. Next stop was Waikerie where we bought some lunch to take away and headed 15k out to Lock no 2 at Taylorville. Here we ate our lunch at another very well maintained lock and looked at it. It looked much the same as Lock 1. We found Lock No. 3 at a spot between Barmera and Kingston, very much the same. A common point of the locks is the flood markers which mark the height of record flood levels. 1956 holds the record and must have inundated the lock buildings as well as the surrounding countryside.

Drop cap e were intending to stay at Loxton but the motel, (the only one in town) was booked out by a large party and had no double rooms left. We went on and found lock no 4 between Loxton and Berri where we had our coffee. (All the locks have well kept picnic areas) Lock 4 was different because it was the upside of the river, all the others were the downside. We decided all the accommodation in Berri sounded too dear so we found a very el cheapo motel in Renmark where the phone didn't work, the electric blanket switch was broken but at least it is cheap (It had better be) It is right next door to KFC so a Tenderroast meal tonight. Victoria tomorrow.

Day 19 - Wednesday, 17th August

Renmark photograph

Houseboat going through Lock No.5 Renmark South Australia

Drop cap n leaving Renmark this morning we found our way to Lock No. 5, which is at Renmark (practically) and we had the good luck to see a large houseboat go through the lock. It's the first time we've seen one working. Mac had quite a chat to the lockkeeper afterwards and found out all the technicalities. There don't seem to be many.

Drop cap e drove to Mildura, in Victoria, where we had lunch at McDonalds. Mildura is a large river town but somewhat chaotic with traffic and high school kids.

Red Cliffs photograph

Red Cliffs, outside Mildura Victoria

Drop cap rom Mildura we went to Red Cliffs where we took the scenic route and found the red cliffs by the river, the banks really I suppose, the water gets pretty high during floods. Surprisingly, on the way out of Red Cliffs we were breathalysed. First time in years.

After that, a long run towards Robinvale, very flat and uninteresting country.

Murray River photograph

Afternoon tea spot by the Murray River Victoria

Drop cap e stopped for coffee at a lovely spot on the banks of the Murray by what looked like a shell midden. There were enough shells embedded in the banks all around. But it was a pretty spot with table and seats and a litter bin. After that we got to Robinvale, where we intended to stay, to find both motels had no vacancies. (It may just have been their holidays, it is a summer town). So we drove on another 120 k or so to Balranald in N.S.W, the next town, to find a motel. All up about 400k today. We are getting low on both cash and bankcard credit, better be el cheapo from now on.

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Day 20 - Thursday, 18th August

Drop cap irst stop today was Hay. On the way we saw a sign, like the "Kangaroos x km " signs only it had a cow and a sheep on it. Pressed on regardless and first there was quite a herd of cattle being moved by men on motor bikes - having passed that we were tooling along when we came on the tail of an enormous mob of sheep, all over the road with a Clancy type on horseback with a dog. It took ages to get through and we had to be vigilant for breakaways. It looked like he was taking them down the long paddock, it is very dry around here.

Drop cap ay was a picturesque little town with old fashioned western buildings. I should think it looks its best in winter, it gave the impression of being freshly painted and neat. We had morning tea here and descended on the Commonwealth Bank to pay some more into the Bankcard and get some English cash from the Autoteller. So we are cashed and credited up again. The road is very flat, very straight and very monotonous out here. We saw two emus in a paddock and umpteen dead roos on the road. It beats me where they hide themselves in the daytime and why they make for the road at night with all that space behind them. Oh, well, I guess it's one of life's little mysteries.

Lake Wyangan photograph

Park by Lake Wyangan

Drop cap e reached Griffith in the early afternoon so we decided to taste some local wine at de Bortoli's winery. We had a good long chat with the girl behind the bar, tasted some whites and bought three bottles. Then we went to Lake Wyangan to explore and have afternoon tea. It is a very extensive picnic area and the lake supports swimming sailing and rowing clubs. There was a waterfally effect leading down into the water which had stepping stones and we had our coffee there. About 5 o'clock we found a Motel, the second we tried, the first was booked out. Dinner in a chinesery. It'll be good to get back to the Wing Wah.

Day 21 - Friday, 19th August, 1994

Plane photograph

Lions Plane Park West Wyalong New South Wales

Drop cap e headed out of Griffith towards Grenfell. The MIA irrigation channels are everywhere. Obviously Griffith is pretty prosperous because of them but it is a difficult town to drive around. Railway crossings and canals everywhere. We passed another mob of sheep on the way to Grenfell but very little else of interest except at West Wyalong where we stopped to stretch our legs in the Lions Plane Park. For some reason best known to the West Wyalong Lions Club they have parked a DC3 aeroplane in the park. We had a look at it and then carried on to Grenfell. Grenfell is the birthplace of Henry Lawson and has an "historic main street". This means that they have an OLD main street, not tarted up but the way it was when Lawson was a boy. We had, however, a delicious lunch at a little restaurant in Grenfell, called "The Kitchen Table". It occurs to me that I tend to fill these notes with meals. Oh well.

Cowra photograph

View of the Japanese Garden Cowra New South Wales

Drop cap e went on to Cowra, scene of the famous wartime "Cowra Breakout" of Japanese prisoners of war. This Japanese connection is celebrated in the lovely Japanese Gardens and Cultural Centre in Cowra. We spent a happy couple of hours exploring the really lovely gardens and ponds and lakes and waterfalls and the symbolic mountain. It was very peaceful. It's amazing what contradictory people the Japanese are. The garden is lovely, some of the art work in the cultural centre is stupendous and yet they are also suicidal and cruel. Still, the gardens are beautiful. We found a very pleasant Golden Chain Motel in Cowra and settled in for the night. Home tomorrow.

Day 22 - Saturday 20th August, 1994

Drop cap ame home through Bathurst and over Victoria Pass into the Mountains. It was very smoky, hazard reductions going on apace before summer, we assumed. We were told that there had been a number of fires while we were away, some of them being runaway HRs. Neil was home to welcome us back and Geoffrey did not seem to have come to any harm. It has been a nice break, especially around the coast. I'll never be keen on the far west, I'm afraid. The only way through it for me is fast. It's nice to be home.

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