Day 24 - Adelaide to Murray Bridge to Blanchetown

Trip Start Apr 17, 2012
Trip End May 27, 2012

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Where I stayed
Blanchetown Caravan Park

Flag of Australia  , South Australia,
Thursday, May 10, 2012

We were a little bit sad about leaving Adelaide today, but it was another nice South Australian day which made it a little bit easier. We had our usual campervan cerial breakfast and took our time packing up, Julie played some guitar while I mounted the bikes on the rack and locked them up. We got out right on the 10am checkout time. We headed straight to Brighton to find a cafe, and stumbled across the Broadway Kiosk (‎) at South Glenelg which had absolutely delicious coffee. 

After our stop it was time to drag ourselves away from Adelaide, we set the GPS to take us towards Murray Bridge and slogged our way across Adelaide and up into the Mt Lofty ranges. It actually didn't take too long as the traffic in Adelaide is bearable and the city is smaller which mean you can traverse the whole city in less than an hour. Soon we were heading up through the mountains in the tunnel which looked pretty cool. We had to do the diversion up to Mt Lofty lookout to see if it looked the same as in the 80's when I went there. Sure did, there was a restaurant, gift shop and whole complex thingy there, in the 80's it was just a gravel carpark.

The views were great but it was too hazy to do any decent photography so we made our way back to the van and continued on to Murray Bridge. We had to stop at a supermarket to grab some supplies which we found there. We knew we were coming to some remote campsites in the next few days so we wanted to stock up. We walked past a newsagency that had some dodgy unknown DVDs for sale for $5 each and I had a quick look and found something with Dax Shephard and Bradley Cooper in it so I bought it. We had a few movies and TV shows on hard disk but we thought this would be a laugh and since we were going to be out of TV range we figured we'd need lots of entertainment material.

We really wanted to go to the Monarto Zoo out there but decided that we would be better off doing it next time. Always leave something for next time....

Now that we had reunited ourselves with the Murray, we followed it up through Mannum where we had to do a car-ferry river crossing to get us onto the eastern side, from here it was a fairly scenic drive alongside the Murray. Some parts were a little bit over farmed and just looked a bit barren and bare. There were clusters of houses but you wouldn't call them towns. They all looked quite shabby and in need of TLC. Towards Walker Flat we noticed that these little riverside shanty towns existed. The living conditions look quite basic - corrugated iron, car shells, solar panels and gas cyclinders everywhere. I could only think that they are remnants of former glory days when the river was more bustling therefore there was more money around the place.

There were lots of old houseboats in pretty crappy condition compared to what you see in NSW. Some weren't even functional anymore, they were just tied to the shores with no working motor. The owners still try to flog them off to customers who don't mind having a holiday in a floating caravan tied to the shore. I guess there is a market for it though - it's cheap, you can go fishing and you can walk around in your singlet and stubbies. Bogans would have a field day at these places. It appears that there was probably an overabundance of unregulated river businesses back in the day. Then in the early 2000's when the river stopped flowing due to the drought it stuffed everything. Now the water is back but the communities and boats have deteriorated and there still aren't enough tourist dollars to bring it all back. I can't see it improving soon either, there are still some quite backwards pockets of backwards people who think that clearing land, killing animals and shooting birds are cool

A few kays before Swan Reach we stopped at a roadside lookout near Nildottie and took some photos of the sun getting low over the Murray. It was a nice spot and we considered setting up camp for the night (and a freebie) but there were a family already there and they were pretty rough looking so we drove on after taking our photos. It was only another 5-10km to Swan Reach where we hoped we might find a caravan park. We checked out the town's offerings which seemed ok but just a tiny bit not good enough for us. We were getting a little bit tired by this stage and I mis-read our intended direction off the GPS and we made a wrong turn taking the Swan Reach ferry across the Murray towards Sedan, but noticed my error as soon as we hit the other side because I wanted Swan Reach - Blachtown Rd not Swan Reach - Sedan Rd. The pub looked quite inviting as we drove past it and the thought of a nice steak was tempting but we really needed to get our accommodation sorted as it was nearly dark. 

We took a gamble on being able to find something in Blanchtown which was still 30 kms from Swan Reach. The drive was spectacular with the post-sunset red sky over the river. It finall got dark on us just before Blanchetown. In need of a shower, we were attracted to the sound of the Blanchetown Riverside Holiday Park. The office was closed so we started to drive in to look around. It looked small and congested but right then the woman came out and offered assistance. We seemed to have faith in the fact that it was a Big 4 park so we paid our money and asked her where we should go. She directed us into a tiny area in between two occupied caravans. We drove in - looked at each other - and agreed that we just couldn't do it so we reversed back out without even turning the engine off.

The woman had gone back to her house so we had to ring the doorbell again and tell her that we couldn't stay, we explained that we had travelled too far from Sydney to camp like a carpark. She apologied and gave us our money back. The Blanchetown pub looked inviting just like Swan Reach, but Julie (being a vego) isn't the biggest fan of pub food. To get to the other caravan park in town we had to cross the bridge over the river. The river was looking very swollen and massive amounts of water were coming down the river and in many places the river had burst it's banks. Huge billabongs had formed on any flat ground adjacent to the river. Only a few hundred metres from the other side of the bridge we found the caravan park, the office was closed but after pressing a doorbell we were able to get some service. This place was more like it, quiet and spacious. There were only one other visible couple staying there and they were in a massive RV. We set up camp just as it was getting freezing but we had a powered site so we ran the heater and got the van toasty.

The toilets and showers were immaculate and the water was hot hot hot. After eating out for the past 3 nights it was nice to cook some simple camper food. Blanchetown had no TV stations so we pulled out the new DVD (It was called Brother's Justice - with Dax Shepard - it's meant to sound cheesy) to give it a go. It ended up being hilarious. It provided us with many laughs that night and for many weeks after. I almost started feeling sick from exhaustion after a while which resulted in lights being out by 11pm. It was a cold night outside at 5 degrees - probably our coldest yet so far on this trip (it was still autumn - but we were in a cold part of Australia).
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