Travelling Australia - Journal 2006
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23 March 2006 - Ouyen to Swan Hill  

Location map Today we continued along the Mallee Highway from Ouyen east towards the Murray River. The land was devoted to grain (wheat, barley or oats, mostly wheat) with a few Merino sheep stud farms. The wheat had been harvested recently leaving stubble on both sides of the road stretching to the horizon. For much of the way the original mallee scrub has been preserved on the side of the road and along the adjacent railway line. This scrub which once covered the region had proved very difficult to clear in the early days and had broken many of the early settlers.

This Victorian wheatland was different to many other regions we have driven through. The land was under continuous cultivation from the side of the road to the far horizon, sometimes with scattered gum trees lining dry water courses. The sandy loam soil was a uniform reddish colour not that different to the colour of the crops. Despite the very obvious evidence of human activity in the form of crops and fencing there were no buildings or any other sign of people; no houses, no sheds, (and no advertising either). Even the recently cut hay had been removed. Neither did we see birds or animals. There was even a lack of roadkill animals; whether that was caused by no animals or very few vehicles at night to kill the animals, we did not know.

Then the wheat came to an end. Quite suddenly, as we entered the village of Piangil about 90 km from Ouyen we were among grape vines and citrus orchards drawing water from the Murray River just ahead of us. Shortly afterwards we reached the Murray Valley Highway and turned south-east towards Swan Hill which we reached before lunch.
Murray Cod statue A large Murray Cod at Swan Hill marking the importance of this fish in the Murray-Darling system
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