Day 27 - Chowilla SA to Buronga VIC

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

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Sunday, May 13, 2012

We woke to a chilly (about 5 degrees) but sunny morning which was good because as soon as the sun hit the van at 8am it began to warm it up. We had heard a distant intermittent banging noise throughout the night, not loud enough to bother us or keep us awake but enough to make you wonder what it was. We suspected it was either something supernatural (if only) or something blowing in the wind over at the shearing/woolshed. Since it was only 400-500m away it was the most likely explanation. Before too long it has turned into a nice sunny day and we were packed up and ready for the day's adventures.

We had an explore around the station and woolshed before embarking on the bumpy ride back to Renmark. It seemed quicker going back (it always does), and as soon as we got into town we went straight back to the same friendly cafe again. Once we had finished topping ourselves up it was time to head to the Old Customs House at the Border Cliffs area not far from Renmark. The drive was about 30km of well formed dirt road from Paringa so we did it fairly quick but we were horrified to see a dead dog on the road somewhere along the way. It was no little dog either and to make matters worse, the locals don't appear to make any effort to avoid hitting the carcass. This was probably someone's pet. I despair in the human race sometimes (well, quite lot really).

II was still drinking my coffee from Renmark when we arrived at Old Customs House. We had a quick look around but there is not much there except for a general store. There were a large tour group there at the time having a catered lunch which killed the serenity somewhat. The camping areas were a few hundred metres west of the homestead. They looked OK, but nothing to write home about. If you know where to look, this area has loads more secluded and serene places to camp.

After the 30km dirt road back to Paringa we got onto the Sturt Hwy again and were steaming towards the SA/VIC border. It was nearly time to say goodbye to South Australia. Since our 2010 trip we have become big fans of SA. The run from Renmark to Mildura is 140-odd km, however at least 100km of that is on a dead straight road......dead straight. One could have a broken steering system and still get to the other end. The whole reason we had come to this part of Australia was because I am obsessed with rivers, especially the Darling and Murray river systems. They are just freaking awesome. Anyway, at Wentworth just near Mildura is the confluence of the Darling and the Murray. At this point in time, massive amounts of water were coming down both systems and all waterways were swollen with water. This excites me.

Just before Mildura we took a turnoff to Wentworth which is only about 12km from Mildura. As it was now after 3pm and we hadn't eaten lunch we were feeling a little run-down. Wentworth itself is a pleasant town - not overly flashy or anything, just a nice little country town. While we were driving to the river junction we stumbled across the Artback Cafe which looked quite clean, smick and inviting for us weary travellers in an unfamiliar place. They were still happy to make us toasted sandwiches which was good. They had a nice collection of books and art in there. After we had finished we headed over to the river junction.

The two rivers meet alongside a nice bushy reserve with barbecues and plenty of parking. There is a high structure you can climb up with a lookout platform up the top so we climbed up to take some photos, have a gander and reflect on the significance of where we were

It was getting bloody cold, so it was time to find a place to camp. As we had bush camped for the past 2 nights, we needed showers so a caravan park was needed - not that there is any bush camping nearby anyway. We tried a few in the Wentworth area - none looked good enough so we drove in to Mildura. It was larger than we expected, almost a city. I guess they call it a city. We drove to all the caravan parks and they just didn't look inviting enough for us. It was now almost dark and we were getting a little bit nervous. Luckily Julie found one in her travel literature which was located smack-bang on the river on the other side. Before too long we were driving across the bridge towards Buronga.

The people running the place were cool and said we could drive through and have a look. The place was pretty full in the sections with cabins and powered sites with concrete slabs and ensuites. As we got to the other end we noticed a small a-van camped on it's own in a nice grassy area by the river. When we got back to the office we asked if we could camp over there. They said we could have whichever spot we wanted. We asked why no-one else was there and they said it was because they were unpowered sites. Hah! We don't need power. We are fully self-sufficient except for heating, even then, if it gets too cold we just put a pot of tea on the gas cooker which heats up the van pretty quick. We got an awesome spot by the river, still a decent distance from the other van. Nice.

The usual evening activities followed, we cooked dinner in the van, put the antennas up on the roof for TV and intergoogles and walked over to the shower block for showers. The amenities were awesome, the block was almost brand new and there was no shortage of showery hotness. It was a pretty good choice of caravan park. When we got back to the van we enjoyed the view across the water to Mildura. A couple were staying in a houseboat across the river from us and they ran a generator for a while which worried us, but they turned it off after a while. It had been a pretty big day and we were pooped, after a little bit of TV we were kaputted.

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