Sunday 21st October 2012 Charlton to Mildura (295Kms)
We have a slow start, because we really don’t have to hurry. We leave at 9:45, it is a beautiful morning, but chilly. The road is straight and the paddocks are filled with young wheat as far as the eye can see. We stop to stretch our legs at Wycheproof, the railway line still runs up the middle of the broad main street, but the town appears to be dying, only one cafe is open. On the site of an old petrol station there is a truly wonderful ironmongery, where someone very creative has turned mundane pieces of metal (railway lines, springs, plough shares and brake drums) into works of art.
On we go through endless wheat fields and small towns to Sea Lake “The Heart of the Mallee and Home of the Mallee Rally”. This is the most prosperous town we have seen since Inglewood. It is quite small but most shops are filled and people are eating breakfast out front of the Bottom Café, the local constabulary are getting their fill at the Top Cafe.
The road starts to climb, it’s lined with mallee scrub and in between wheat fields, there is cactus, saltbush and evidence of salt problems. We have country music playing, there is very little traffic and I’m enjoying the drive so, so much. We stop at Ouyen for lunch, it’s really hot now and we pull into a wayside stop under some shady trees. We haven’t sighted a bakery, so we have salmon and Tasmanian wallaby & pork German on biscuits for lunch. There are a lot of houses in town but only a few shops, they’re well shaded by grapevines. Only another 100kms through undulating desert and mallee scrub to go.
Twenty Kms shy of Mildura and we are assaulted by bright green grapevines, yay, we’ve reached the oasis of Sunraysia. After only having a quick Pommie shower this morning, we decide to wimp it and book into the Buronga Caravan Park just across the Murray River. The park is right on the riverbank opposite Mildura and we’ve often admired this beautiful spot in the past. It’s very shady with lots of gums, palms and a variety of shrubs that are a gardener’s delight. The owners seem to have a fetish for garden statuary and fairy lights. A green grocer, taking advantage of the fruit fly protection zone, drives in and sells us some local fruit and vegetables, which later prove to be delicious. Our neighbour from Loxton in SA gives us her potatoes and onions as she can’t take them through the ‘zone’. There are so many birds in this park and we are pestered for treats by begging ducks and butcher birds.
We drive into town and have a quick stroll then head back for smoked salmon pasta and a salad. We are serenaded by a group of happy but tuneless Country & Western singers across the way, who certainly enjoy making music. We only manage to watch half of the movie Pushing Tin before falling asleep.
Pommie Shower – A basic wash. Our little ‘pop top’ didn’t have a bathroom.
We’ve visited Buronga Caravan Park several times since and really enjoy the feel of the place. However, there were some tense moments on one visit when a guy ran amuck with a shotgun. But that’s another story.