|Travelling Australia - Journal 2008b|
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|8 July 2008 - Berri to Mildura|
There was some rain overnight and it was a dull morning but there was no wind. We connected the van then drove out of the Riverside Caravan Park and through Berri to the Old Sturt Highway on the way to Mildura via Renmark. The Sturt Highway passes through the edge of Renmark then crosses the Murray River and through Paringa before heading for Victoria. As soon as we passed Paringa, paddocks of green crops lined the road with some areas still devoted to vines; then the vines petered out leaving croplands on both sides of the road with obvious remnant mallee along the road and between paddocks. A few kilometres before the Victorian/South Australia border we had to slow down to pass the Quarantine Inspection on the other side of the road where vehicles entering South Australia were checked. There were no checks on traffic leaving South Australia. When we reached the border there were a few signs and that was it.
Victoria and South Australia have half an hour time difference. My mobile phone time changed before we crossed the border, presumably because it changed to a Victorian base station; that must cause problems for the few people who live on the South Australian side of the border if their mobile phones display Victorian time.
As soon as the Sturt Highway crossed into Victoria it entered the extensive Sunset National Park; cropland ceased and was replaced by scrub and mallee for many kilometres. Towards the far (eastern) edge of the national park the road ran along the southern boundary of the park with cropland stretching to the horizon on the right and extensive scrub in the national park on the left. The contrast was striking. After we passed the national park cropland dominated until we reached the outskirts of Mildura.
Traffic was quite light on the Sturt Highway, there were a few heavy transports and a number of caravans. The road is mostly straight and fairly flat so transports could overtake us with little difficulty. The weather was reasonably sunny, but cold in the open. The wind appeared quite light but the fuel consumption shown by the fuel computer (17.8 litres per 100 kilometres) was remarkably low and indicated a substantial tail wind.
In Mildura we checked into the selected caravan park for a week. This park was across the Calder Highway from a major shopping centre. On a previous visit to Mildura we had stayed at a caravan park on the banks of the Murray River among River Red Gums which I have become wary of because older trees drop large branches without warning when there is no wind blowing. Earlier this year at Darlington Point on the Murrumbidgee we saw a horizontal branch about 25 cm in diameter which had fallen without warning from a River Red Gum; the branch had intact bark and looked healthy but the interior was powdery and didn't have much wood supporting the weight of the branch. No wonder it fell to the ground.
But there were no River Red Gums at this park. We were led to a concreted drive-through site and directed to park with the caravan neatly aligned. After setting up the caravan we walked through the gate in the park fence to the bakery next door which we knew from previous visits served excellent food; then across the road to look at our new neighbouring shopping centre. Later in the afternoon I visited the local Visitor Centre which has an excellent collection of literature and some good historical background on Mildura.