|Travelling Australia - Journal 2009|
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|2 April 2009 - West Wyalong to Benalla|
The morning was bright, sunny and warm. Our caravan park in West Wyalong
was on the Newell Highway on the edge of town so we were clear of the
built-up area very quickly. Traffic was very light. Terrain was flat, the
land used mainly for cropping and grazing sheep and cattle. The ground was
pretty dry compared to the land around Dubbo further north. Native
vegetation along the road and fence lines was dominated by mallee and box
eucalyptus, two species which covered this land before settlement but have
now been mainly cleared.
The highway stayed between 200 and 300 metres elevation going south. By the time we reached the vicinity of Ardlethan the land was nearly entirely devoted to cropping and the native vegetation on the roadside was dominated by cypress.
|Cropland with residual cypress trees near
South of Narrandra there was a substantial change in the land which was now
flat as far as the eye could see and there were no longer trees along the
road or fence lines. The region was dry. Many dams were empty,
or nearly so; a few had windmills pumping bore water so dams were full
but surrounding paddocks were dry and barren. Emus looked more
comfortable in this dry land than the few cattle we could see.
The township of Finley on the highway is in an irrigation area but there were few signs of any irrigation activity. Main feeder channels are full of water but it is not moving and water-weeds grow along the edges. A few supply channels used to distribute water on and around individual properties were visible from the road but these were completely dry. We did see one paddock being flood-irrigated but it was the only sign of activity in a normally busy irrigation area.
Near Tocumwal we crossed the Murray River into Victoria and stopped at the Big Strawberry where we included a strawberry pancake in our lunch. This is another place that we visit whenever we are passing.
Just past the Big Strawberry the Newell Highway meets the Murray Valley Highway and we turned off both of them to go to Benalla. This part of Victoria, south of the Murray River, is fairly flat but with many low, rolling hills; patches of eucalyptus trees grew along the roadside and over paddocks. The area was not nearly as dry as parts north of the Murray and many of the farms along this road had large stores of hay rolled into circular bales.
At Benalla we made our way to the selected caravan park and set up for two nights. The sky was still clear and the temperature was quite high making for a fairly warm night.