Bendigo to Mildura 2008



17 March 2009. After a pleasant three days in Bendigo we are heading towards Whyalla where the CMCA has their motorhome rally. In three days 700 KM to Mannum via Ouyen. We are back in South Australia. The countryside is flat with a lot of grain being grown and very dry. 20 March. Camped beside the Murray River for the weekend and we are spending this with the Adelaide Wanderers, a chapter of the motorhome club.

Chapter meeting with the Adelaide Wanderers in Mannum.     Barossa Valley from Menglers Hill and sculpture park.
23 March heading towards Whyalla and the Barossa Valley. This is one of Australia's premier wine regions. A lot of the villages have still German names and lovely old buildings. All the villages are within a 10 KM radius. We visited Seppelt's winery and did a tour which was very interesting. Their 100 year old port is only $1000. Also visited Jacobs Creek cellar but this is only a modern building with some historical information but no character. We did not spend too much time here but had to visit it, as we have consumed a "few" of their wares over the years. Maggie Beer is a famous Australian TV cook but her potions were a bit on the expensive side.

           Maggie Beer's estate.                                              Martindale Hall.   Mintaro.   Claire Valley.
26 March. Spend the night in Kapunda. When we were here two month ago we left before we had seen everything because of starting problems. This time we did the heritage tour. Which is a 10 KM drive around an old copper mining town. We had our second flat tire but were on the road again within the hour. From one wine region to the next. Claire Valley region has like the Barossa a lot of old stone buildings still preserved. The grandest was the Martindale Hall which was build for a 21 year old sheep farmer. All the furniture was still as it was left in the 1880s.
We spend 3 days at Point Lowly. This is 30 KM north of Whyalla with a view over the ocean. The day of the rally we woke very early to be at the gate at 7AM. There were a few motorhomes in front of us but we did not have to wait too long to be given a place on nice green grass. There were e few people we recognised from previous gatherings and the seminars, and entertainment is keeping up busy.

  Whyalla rally. We are one of 750 motorhomes.   Woomera the birthplace of Australian space technology.
7 Days of going to seminars, talking to people and Susan doing line dancing. The place stops at 4 PM because of happy hour. Every early morning there is bush poets and every evening  entertainment. The rally is finished on Monday but we stay another day to help clean up.
7 April on the way north. As soon as we left the coast the landscape turned nearly flat and hardly any trees. The earth is 70% rock.  For about 1000 KM the landscape is about the same. First stop Woomera. This used to be a large restricted military camp where spy rockets were developed and lounged. We went to two museums but there is not much else going on. The 300 American personnel who were stationed here called it a place of hardship. 
9 April and we reach Coober Pedy. Here low hills but all the action is under ground. A lot of locals live in dugouts which have all the comforts of home Opals are what they looking for and Susan bought here birthday present here.

  Coober Pedy.  All the old houses are underground. You can dig for opals and build a house extension at the same time.
We stayed a few days because everything closes over the Easter break and there is an opal festival on. We parked the bus on top of a hill and the view from the bus are the two photo's above.

 Underground church in Coober Pedy.  Dogfence 2250 KM long. Golfcourse Coober Pedy. They do have a sense of humour here.
10 April. Susan did the laundry. The dryers were out of action therefore we camped a few KM outside town and put the washing lines up. In the afternoon we went for a drive to the dog fence, breakaways ranges, underground churches and in the evening to the drive in cinema. They have it once a fortnight here and free entrance. There are two dog fences in Australia with a total length of 5500KM. They keep the dingoes contained to a part of Australia where they don't keep sheep.
Next day and the opal festival in Coober Pedy.

 This is a giant vacuum cleaner which sucks the diggings out of the hole.     Lake Hart. There are a lot of lakes here but they are all salt.
Another 700 KM to Alice Springs. We were just out of Coober Pedy when there were a few aboriginese on the road hitchhiking. The driver had fallen asleep and they had crashed the car. There was a hitchhiker from Norway amongst them which we did give a lift to Alice Springs. Later on we heard that they burned the car which is normal up here when you can't drive it any further.

       Alice Springs by night.                  Fred and Mien Blom Alice Springs.


13 April. Alice Springs has expanded considerably since we were here  25 years ago. There are no drunk aboriginals walking around as far as we could see. They are asking for money and you can't miss them because the stench which they generate is not pleasant to say it politely. We met Leslie Reilly with who we worked in Port Keats 30 years ago.
Susan had read a book a year ago about a Dutch lady who had migrated to Australia and wrote about her experiences. We did find her and had a pleasant afternoon and we camped in front of their house. Mien has written three books in the meantime and Fred is making "draaiorgels" or street organs. He has four of them under the house. They had a large article about them in the "Libelle."
15 April visited the desert park and the heritage precinct which has a lot of paintings from Albert Namatjira.
16 April. Mac Donnel ranges and visiting all the gorges. Rugged and beautiful country. We spend a few days exploring the sights around Alice Springs.
19 April. Heading south towards Ayers Rock.

   Stanley Chasm. West Mac Donnell ranges. You can just see Susan.
                                                                                               Kings Canyon from the canyon floor.

21 April. It took two days and 470 KM. A lot of people only walk to the lookout at the canyon floor, but to really appreciate it you have to do the 6KM walk over the top. It looks a bit like the Bungle Bungles but a lot more deep gorges in between the hills. Where the two walls meet is called the garden of Eden. There is a permanent waterhole and a very important site for the natives. A lot of driving for this. Ayers Rock is 320 KM away and another long and fairly boring road. We see a lot of camel droppings and hoof prints but no camels. There supposed to be 1 million wild camels here. After we settled at the caravan park we drive to the spot where to observe the sunset from, but it is clouded and the sun disappears quickly with hardly any changes in colour in the rock. 23 April. Next morning up at six for the sunrise over the rock. It is raining which is highly unusual for this time of the year but for a brief moment the rock changes colour with a rainbow beside it. We do a guided tour with a ranger to explain the aboriginal stories from the rock.

                                                    Two different aspects of Uluru.  (Ayers Rock.)
24 April. Leaving the area after we have walked through the Olga's. This is a series of huge domes protruding from the earth but are connected underground. The flies in a lot of places are a big pest and we decided to walk around as tourists and buy a flynet. They look horrible but do the job. On the way back to Coober Pedy we did see six wild camels. I got fairly close but I had no idea what they would do if I got too close and they can run faster than I can. A good telelens can fix this. 
25 April. Did a lot of driving and got to 200KM from Coober Pedy. Spend one night in Coober Pedy.

                    Us with fly protection.   Net fixed to cap.                                     Wild camels.
27 April.  On the way to Port Augusta. A lot of driving with very little to see. There are several road signs in different languages. This cow must have been killed by someone who did not understand the sign.

                Road sign.                                                                      The eagles like something like this.
28 April back in Port Augusta. We end up here because there is not that much choice, unless you want to drive on a lot of unsealed roads. Finally a chance to check out the Flinders ranges. Last time the road had washes out and it was not possible to get in. The road is very impressive. Fairly flat country with mountains in the distance till you get closer and drive through them. We went past the Flinders Ranges through Parachina and started from the top down. They did work on the road and instead of an unsealed road the whole length through the middle is sealed. As soon as you want to see something you get on an unsealed road. The road to the Sacred Valley was very rocky and the Aboriginal rock art was not worth the drive. We booked in at Wilpena national park campground. $20 to just stand there. 30 April. I had a long walk to the top of Mount Ohlssen. Bagge. The track was fairly steep. I can feel I am not 65 any more. Flinders Ranges are promoted as the most rugged scenery in South Australia and it is. You get a bit spoiled when you travel and see many different sceneries but it rates amongst the top.

                               Flinders Ranges.

After I came back from the walk I saw that we had a flat tyre, the third one so far. They could repair them before but this time it had a big split in it. We had to drive back to Port Augusta which we did not want to do but we also did not want to drive around with no spare tyre. I decided to get two new tyres and they had to come up from Adelaide. Another day in Port Augusta. From there we head to Renmark. We stopped at a Terowie and Burra. When you walk through those places like this and most only have a population of a few hundred, you realise how much history here is. Terowie population 200 was an enormous rail junction where the width of the rail changed from standard to narrow gauge. This means that all goods had to be transferred from one carriage to the next. During WW2 42 trains a day passed through here. General Mc Carthy had his famous speech here with "I shall return." Burra was an very wealthy copper mining town in 1860. A few buildings remain. There also happened to be an antique fair on this weekend. Susan in her element. At the first of May the weather changed to winter. We have the stove going in the morning and night for heating. The locals in Burra find it cold too. The photo shows the smoke from the chimneys.

        Burra at eight in the morning.                                    Mildura, paddle steamer on the Murray River.
4 May. On the way to Renmark we pass through Berry. Here is the largest juice factory in Australia. One side of the road is all grapevines and the other side oranges.  Last time we passed here the juice was more expensive here than in the supermarket. Renmark is located besides the Murray River and we will be following the river for a while. Found a camping spot in a national park and we stayed here for a day. Could do some maintenance because all the rough roads have taken their toll on the equipment. Off to Mildura. This city was started as an irrigation project to make the land fertile.
Now it has 20 000 people living here. We stayed for 6 days. Things to see and a bit more maintenance to the bus. The weather is cool but clear skies and perfect for a trip on a paddle steamer.

                                                                      Wentworth sandhills.
On one of the trips around Mildura we went to Wentworth. Here the Murray and Darling River come together. Also there is the little Sahara Desert. A bit of a disappointment but looks good on the photo.   11 May heading east.