Saturday, 8 September 2012

We're off to see the Paddlesteamers

Friday 7th September 2012

At last we are on the road, a bit later than planned, as we again had a problem with the fridge in our caravan, this is the second time it has had a problem with the element in only 8 months and in a van that is less than 2 years old. Anyway, we have had it fixed again and we are now on the road to Mildura in Victoria.

We left home about 1 pm after bringing the van home to quickly pack the remaining food in the fridge and the rest of our clothes, hopefully we haven't forgotten too much, but at least we can buy anything we need when we get to Mildura.

   We  planned to stop the night at Lock 9 near Lake Cullulleraine, about 4 hours from home, but don't know if we'll get that far as we have left home quite a bit later than planned. The weather was fairly overcast but not raining and after about an hour the traffic had thinned and we were able to enjoy the scenery, mainly paddocks of crops and occasionally a hillside of golden canola.


We headed up the Main North Road and through the small towns of Truro, Waikerie and then on throught Blanchetown, Barmera, Monash and Renmark. We were making good time so decided to keep going. In the Barossa Valley the grapevines, in perfect rows on either side of the road, were at bud burst and then as we headed further into the Riverland area in the citrus growing region of South Australia with orchards of oranges and mandarins and roadside stalls selling the frshest of fruit but as we were heading to Victoria and New South Wales we were not going to buy any as it is a restricted area and we are not allowed to bring fruit from one State to another, so we will have to wait till we are settled in for a few days. We thought we might stop at Yamba but decided to keep going as the roadside stop was fairly close to the road and so on to Lake Cullulleraine.where we hope to camp at the Lock 9 river camping area.

Lock 9 Murray River  near Cullulleraine

 By now the little bit of sun that we had was starting to get low on the horizon as we turned off the main highway and onto a dirt road which thankfully was good and after about 9 km we reached the Lock 9 pumping station and headed along the river to find a suitable area to set ourselves up for the night.  There were several areas with well used tracks and we did a quick look around and settled into a nice spot on the river's edge without overhanging trees. 

After we got ourselves organised we poured ourselves a well earned drink after a day of driving.  Its always good to sit down in a lovely spot and remind ourselves how lucky we are to live here and do the travelling we love to do.

Lock 9 Pumping Station
There are 10 locks on the River Murray.  Locks 1-9 are controlled by South Australia.  -The locks are man-made structures that control the flow and water level of the river.

Saturday 8th September 2012

We left our river camping spot around 9.30 am and headed for Mildura, about 45 minutes away.  We decided to drive around to the pumping station and after taking a few photos took off along the dirt road and to the Sturt Highway, or so we thought, but somehow we took a  wrong turn and after a few kilometres realised we were not on the right track, but its not easy to do a u-turn with a 20ft caravan in tow and sandy edges so we had to keep going hoping to reach the highway eventually.  This was not to be as the track deteriorated the further we got but fortunately we came to a junction and with our map book and compas, neither of which we found to be very helpful, we made a decision to go on the better track and eventually made it to the Sturt Highway and shortly after into Mildura.  We had booked into the Buronga Riverside Caravan Park and found it easily and got our site on the riverfront.  This is a lovely park and we have views across the River Murray to the wharf at Mildura, the perfect spot to watch the Paddlesteamers coming in to berth at the wharf.

Sunday 9th September 2012

Today is lovely and sunny and just a slight breeze, perfect weather for the celebration of the PS Melbourne's centenary.    We spent the morning sitting watching the paddlesteamers cruise up and down the river from our perfect position near our caravan site.  There were all sizes of paddlesteamers from a very small one, the PS Minimus, to the three-storey PS Marion which made the trip from Mannum in South Australia in excess of 830 km by river.

PS Marion

  After lunch we headed across the river as we had booked a cruise on the PS Oscar W as part of the flotilla to end the day's events on the river.  Mildura certainly put on a great day for us all and the paddlesteamers were magnificent.  It was wonderful to see them all on the river together, their whistles blowing and steam bursting from their funnels.  It took us back in time to the days when these old paddlesteamers brought supplies up the river to the small settlements.
PS Marion

The paddlesteamers were cruising up and down the river with passengers on board all afternoon.  On the banks of the river were hundreds of people enjoying the many stalls selling everything from local wine to souvenirs of the Centenary.  The weather was perfect and it was great to see the town of Mildura putting on such a great event for the locals as well as many from interstate.  We  had a great day and were so pleased that we made it in time.

PS Coonawarra

The PS Coonawarra and the PS Marion join the flotilla on the River Murray

The bell on the PS Oscar W
PS Industry

PS Amphibious
PS Melbourne

Add caption
Captain E J Thorp, PS Oscar W

There were boats of all types and sizes on the river and some were hired just for the day so they could enjoy the excitement from the river itself.

Monday 10 September 2012

We reluctantly left Mildura and did a bit of a detour to Red Cliffs as we wanted to look at "Big Lizzie" which you can see from the photos is huge and is on display at Barclay Square.

We left Mildura and headed for Wentworth abou 30 km west of Mildura.   We had a quick drive around the town, which was smaller than we thought it would be, but  it appealed to us and we just wanted to base ourselves here for a few days.  We booked into the Willow Bend Caravan Park and were lucky enough to get a site right on the river front - perfect for sitting and relaxing and the weather is lovely and sunny.

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