Travelling Australia - Journal 2008
5 February 2008 - Narrandera  
Location map The morning was crisp and bright with some dew on the ground and van. Many white moths with black and red-orange marking were resting on the sides and rear of the van as well as nearby light poles and fittings. While walking to the amenities I disturbed even more of them resting on grass blades. These are members of the genus Utetheisa, most probably U. pulchelloides a moth which is widespread in northern Australia but is also often found further south where it feeds on Patterson's Curse. I wondered why there were hundreds of these moths being ignored by birds until I read that they are distasteful to predators and their larvae contain poisons derived from their foodplants, so birds leave them alone.
Utetheisa pulchelloides The moth Utetheisa pulchelloides which feeds on Pattersons Curse and is unpalatable to birds. Narranderra caravan park was inundated with thousands of these moths in the morning.
After breakfast we set off to Leeton going first to the Information Centre. While chatting with the attendant there we found that our experience of yesterday of passing over a flooded creek which had recently flooded the road while nearby creeks were dry was characteristic of the region at present with highly localised heavy rain leaving most areas dry. At our next stop, the Rice Centre, we watched a video describing the industry followed by a presentation from the attendant who then showed us rice products available from the shop.

Rice is usually grown in the Murrimbidgee Irrigation Area, in the Coleambally Irrigation Area (between Griffith and Jerilderie), and in much of the Murray Irrigation Area north of the Murray River. Output in a normal year is 1,200,000 tonnes of rice, but the last normal year was 2005. Because of non-availability of water during drought years no rice is being grown in the Murray or Murrumbidgee Irrigation areas; some rice is being grown in the Colleambally area. There are several rice mills in the rice growing areas but the only one still working is that at Leeton which is processing the small volume of rice grown locally and is also processing imported rice to meet local demand. The use of imported rice is not being advertised in Leeton but has been discussed in the daily media in the context of the world-wide shortage of rice. Other rice mills in the Riverina are in suspension pending availability of water to grow rice locally.

Rice growing in Australia is not mono-cultural; farmers are required to grow other crops and are not allowed to grow two successive rice crops in a paddock. Often a wheat crop will be planted after rice is harvested to use the moisture left in the ground. Rice is grown in flooded, levelled fields; in about March water is drained from the rice and the drying rice matures; by the time the rice is ready for harvesting the ground is dry and firm enough to support conventional harvesting machinery.

Narrandera grain silo Grain silo a few kilometres out of Narrandera on the Newell Highway is an unusual shape.
Narrandera Railway Station Narrandera Railway Station.