Day 6 Friday 10/6/2022 Lockhart to Leeton, 8 – 11 cold
“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travellers don’t know where they are going.” Paul Theroux. That sounds familiar.
After chatting online over breakfast to blogger Derrick from DerrickJKnight, I realise that this life, that he says sounds so attractive, is actually ‘backpacking for old farts’.
We jump into the car (as best a septuagenarian can jump, into a four-wheel drive vehicle) and don’t know what to set the GPS to. Ok, Boree Creek it is, after all the politician and Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer always talked about his old home whenever he was on the TV. Now Boree Creek, well, at least we can say we’ve seen it, but I’m sorry folks there’s not a lot to report. There’s a statue of Tim Fischer riding a small train (he loved trains as much as Boree Creek), a pub and a general store and that’s about it I’m afraid, because we were far too early for the pub and Woody was not going to park the van just to see a statue of a bloke on a miniature train.
In our haste, we don’t read the road signs and obediently obey the GPS which happily directs us back to Urana, the town with the bird aviary and no diesel fuel. I guess we can be thankful that the GPS didn’t send us down a bad road or land us in the middle of someone’s farm, but really, was Urana worth a second visit? I think not. We curse the GPS and take the Federation Way northbound again. It’s a good road with no traffic and there are flat brown paddocks to the treed horizon. We see a few apostle birds, some unidentified green parrots and no roadkill, thanks to the wet weather and abundant feed.
Eventually, we pick up the Newell Highway. The last three times we’ve been on this road it has been dead quiet due to Covid quarantine restrictions. Just past the old wooden railway bridge we turn onto Irrigation Way. The scenery changes almost instantly to orange groves and grape vines. We’re in the MIA (Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area) and this is Wiradjuri country.
Leeton is a large and busy town with an Art Deco feel which they celebrate with an annual festival. It has a proud multicultural population of around 11,000. The town was founded in 1913 and designed by the celebrated American architect Walter Burley Griffin. If you’ve read about him before on these posts, he was the guy who designed the nation’s capital, Canberra with his trademark concentric circles. And here too, we can see that circular street layout.
We pull up at the Leeton Showgrounds which because of those circles are quite central to town. I ring the bell of the caretaker’s house and wait…the door flies open and a woman yells “Boo!”. She checks us in for the grand sum of $51 for 3 nights, a bargain.
On the trotting track a horse is going through its paces. This is one of the positives of staying at Showgrounds, there is always something happening. Our neighbour is a fruit picker who works his way up and down the eastern states from mandarins in QLD to cherries in Tasmania. Here in Leeton he is picking oranges and gives us some. Fresh, juicy and delicious.
Fuel here in Leeton is much cheaper than it has been on the way up here, but getting to the service station is no mean feat. Why? Because of those circular roads. We do some shopping at Aldi which is next to the Sunrice factory, Leeton is the rice capital of Australia. Anyway, I digress, the checkout girl at Aldi spots my camera and mentions that we shouldn’t miss seeing the wetlands here as they are important in the bird-watching world.
Birds aside, we cook salmon risotto for dinner.
Accom: $17.00 (power, water, toilets, showers, dump point)
Fuel: $76.26 (210.9c/l)
Towing Kms: 156kms