Day 188: 4 December – Our 5th state of the trip (briefly!) & back to NSW

Author: Mrs A

From: Renmark, South Australia

To: Balranald, New South Wales

Via: Mildura, Victoria

Distance driven: 306km Walked: 4.5km

We awoke to sunshine and patches of blue sky in between the clouds – our first proper sun in a few days. Tassie was quite enthusiastic about walking and escorted us both on a couple of adventures around Plush’s Bend, totally fearless. I have to admit I wasn’t feeling quite the same, given the tales of very poisonous brown snakes seen around the area, and the lack of frog and lizard activity (also a sign there are predators about). Still, we saw nothing untoward and she got some good exercise before our journey.

We hitched up the caravan and headed on our way. Mildura was our first stop, about an hour’s drive away. Mildura is in North Western Victoria, and more wine country. As we drove into town we could see it was a stark contrast to Renmark, with beautifully tended gardens, new developments, plenty of restaurants and wine bar activity. We dropped Mr A’s bike in to a shop for a new spoke to be fitted, and set off on foot to explore the town.

It was bustling with people given it was lunchtime, and the pavements were filled with people outside the cafés eating. There were even some vaguely interesting shops and I managed to buy a new pair of shorts. Crossing the railway down to the river, there was lush parkland, cycleways, houseboats and interesting walkways. It feels like a prosperous location.Before long, Mr A’s bike was ready to collect. Sadly the bike shop owner told us a familiar tale – cycling here has really dropped back, and he doesn’t know how much longer he can sustain the business. So disappointing. Something needs to change to make people adopt this more sustainable transport method. Mildura is ideal for cycling – it has little gradient and some investment in bike lanes – but clearly not enough to shift the culture of getting in the car.

We continued on our way to Balranald. Balranald is a small settlement at the crux of five waterways – The Murray, The Murrumbidgee, Lachlan, Wakool and Edward Rivers. It has numerous national parks close by as well as critical wetland ecosystems. We are looking forward to exploring.

Unfortunately tonight we are on a caravan site located quite close to the road. Footsteps away is the Murrumbidgee River, which may be its only saving grace – the sound of road trains roaring past is not too attractive, and a rude shock after our three nights with the peaceful bush. We had tried to get onto a sheep station to camp, but when we called up and spoke to the owner were somewhat put off by ‘I have a kelpie which would kill a cat in seconds’, and decided not to stop there!! At least we can get some washing done tomorrow and everything charged up.

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