Around Australia Week 44 – Mildura and the Murray

There’s nothing like a good social event at a park, and they do it well here at the Mildura/Deakin Big 4! Adele and Michael put on a sausage sizzle for their guests on Sunday night: talk about a good way to kick off the week! We even had some guests who were not actually at the park… Rob and Jan Miller called around to see us for a while just before the sausage sizzle and stayed on to socialise. (We actually bumped into Jan at Centro across the road when we were doing a bit of shopping, when she came over to talk about the DVDs.)

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Also at the Sizzle were: Jan from the Avan that I mentioned last week; Ray & Denise Green, Janet & Trevor Lowe; Douglas & Shirl Geekie (travelling in their Roma Elegance van),  Elaine & Dirk Carrols (on the road with their Jayco slideout), and Sylvia and John Saunders travelling in their Winnebago. We were taking photographs galore, with our camera, my phone, and other people’s cameras… but when it came to taking a photo with my touch phone, it defeated the Grey Nomad who was trying to make it work. What else could we do but call in a teenager? Sure enough, Tamika Clifford snapped off a series of photos in a nanosecond.

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Tamika is travelling with her mum (Vicki), dad (Peter) and younger brother (Joeby). Peter expects to be able to pick up work on the road, armed with licences to drive heavy vehicles, forklifts etc.; and both kids are studying. Tamika is doing online study, and Joeby is doing distance ed. We’ve found that there seem to be a lot more families taking to the road to see Australia, with kids being home-schooled by parents with the aid of materials mailed out to them. This is the first time we’ve found kids of two different ages doing different kinds of distance study. Great to see!

We spent several days in Mildura, using it as a base to see plenty of tourist attractions in the area. The Perry Sandhills were an unexpected sight (well, unexpected for us. Rob and I are coastal dwellers… we’re used to seeing the ocean near sand dunes!) Pity I missed getting a photo of Rob trying (and failing dismally) to coast down a sandhill on a piece of cardboard. I thought he’d take off at warp speed and end up half-killing himself at the bottom of the hill, but he had the opposite problem… he couldn’t get it moving! (Maybe he should have waxed the bottom of his cardboard?)

The locks, of course, weren’t operating because the river was all one level after extensive flooding, but it was interesting to talk to the lock keeper and find out how they create a navigation channel by using a crane to lift out the concrete logs that form the weir. We also ran into Phil and Lyn Deaves (who are on the C&M forum) who were having a coffee at Lock 10 – then a little bit later, we met Brenda and Ray Bow from Broken Hill, who were at the Murray-Darling Junction lookout at the same time as we were.

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Kayaking was fun, with our guide Ian. Rob and I had thought about putting the kayaks in a few days beforehand, but the river was flowing so strongly that Rob thought I’d probably end up either paddling furiously and going nowhere, or slowly be borne backwards. However, Ian isn’t a guide for nothing: Moontongue Kayak Eco-Tours are very savvy when it comes to the best spots to put the kayaks into the water, and where you can enter nice peaceful billabongs. All was fine until we took the kayaks into shore at the end of our paddle… and my kayak rammed into the bank and tipped over. Dang!!!! And I was hoping not to distinguish myself this time by tipping over. The good thing is that the river was warm.

The other good thing was that I had my camera-phone in a watertight pouch around my neck, and it worked perfectly. Not a drop of water touched my phone. (In case you’re thinking I just should have left the phone at home, there are actually safety warnings for kayakers advising them to take a phone with them, and to make sure it’s in a waterproof pouch.)

What else did we do? Hmmm… lunch at Stefano’s café and bakery was yummy (and much, much cheaper than going to his famous restaurant around the corner); a tour of old Wentworth gaol was interesting; and then Rob went fishing with Rod Mackenzie – who is famous for being THE angler to take you fishing on the Murray: guaranteed to catch a Murray Cod! Well… maybe most people can do it… perhaps it’s time to let Rob tell you what happened.

Rob here… My last outing was with a professional charter in Broome, where I did achieve some success, so to get a fish here on the Murray the option was naturally to go to the professional.  Well, after setting up at the optimum time and location with correct tackle, bait, lures and local knowledge it was only going to be a matter of time before the Murray Cod sacrificed itself. 

That was the theory at any rate. 

Rod cast into the likely spots and while achieving a couple of strikes no fish took the lure.  I, on the other hand, had several tangles, misdirected casts, lost 3 (expensive) lures, and didn’t even get a strike. Rod provided as much moral and practical support as possible, and even conceded that the fishing had been quiet during and the after flood waters had been through.  So yes you have guessed it – empty handed once again.

So that’s it. Rod & tackle has been stowed deeply in the Isuzu & won’t come out again until I unload from this trip. After that……… well who knows?

(By the way, I got an email from my son telling me to lift my game. He told me that my grandchildren had been catching fish like there was no tomorrow  down at Lake Conjola – 14 bream, 2 yellowtail, 1 whiting and a couple of toads between the three of them. Huh. I’m sure they’re exaggerating. Where’s the proof, I want to know?)

Back to Marg: Just before we headed out of Mildura ready for the next stop along the road, we met up with a happy band of travellers who had set up camp together in the park: Paul & Christine Nolan, Jan & Peter Hogan, and Gary & Majella Campbell. They all agreed they were having a terrific time… and their smiles seemed to prove it!

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