|Travelling Australia - Journal 2010|
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|12 May - Swan Hill to Deniliquin|
We were expecting a cold night and that's what we got with the official overnight temperature of two degrees.
We packed up and connected the EuroStar in the cold breeze and drove out of the caravan park at 9:17 heading towards the middle of Swan Hill to cross the Murray into New South Wales on the Moulamein road. Weather was good for travelling; sunny with no rain and no wind. Traffic was very light, mainly trucks going the other way. The C-class road varied from excellent to a bit bumpy.
Initially we passed through wheat paddocks covered in stubble. The wheat paddocks faded a little about 20 kilometres from Swan Hill allowing timber, grass and saltbush to dominate. But there was a temporary revival of wheat a few kilometres further on.
Irrigation was a factor nearly all the way to Moulamein but not continually. Initially, within 20 kilometres of Swan Hill, we passed mobile spraying rigs. After we were more than half-way towards Moulamein we often passed large levelled paddocks set up for irrigation with perimeter banks and long sub-dividing banks. A few irrigation feeder channels contained water but the large paddocks were mostly overgrown; one or two were being used for pasture and one was being irrigated with water creeping across the base. Moulamein has a very large rice storage facility and is the centre of an established rice growing area so we suspect the paddocks were intended for growing rice when there is more water available.
Looking at a satellite photograph on Google showed a large number of irrigated paddocks within about 40 kilometres of Moulamein between Swan Hill and Moulamein. Many paddocks were not near the main road and could not be seen from the road. Irrigation channels to serve these paddocks could also be seen in the satellite image.
In Moulamein (population 465) we stopped for a hot drink at the wharf on the Edward River which is an anabranch of the Murray River; the river was Moulamein's primary means of transport until the train line reached there in 1926.
We left Moulamein on the road heading east and south-east towards Deniliquin. The weather was reasonable and traffic very light; the road surface was beginning to deteriorate in places and I slowed down to minimise bouncing. Closure of the train line (Balranald to Echuca) serving Moulamein means rice is moved by trucks on the roads and local councils are concerned this heavy traffic is the causing damage. Their concerns are probably justified as something had degraded the road surface. Occasionally we passed dry paddocks modified for irrigation but mostly the road was lined with grassland or scattered gum trees. We passed one herd of Angus cattle feeding their way along the road-side (using the Long Paddock) and for much of the way we couldn't see fences on one or both sides of the road.
After leaving Moulamein the fuel consumption had slowly increased because the wind had risen appreciably and become gusty. Much of the bouncing we were experiencing was due to wind gusts as much as rough road. At one stage I noticed in the rear-vision mirror that the EuroStar was weaving gently from side to side in the wind gusts.
After seeing locusts around Swan Hill we expected to see more today. At first there were none visible, possibly because ground temperature was still low after such a cold night. After leaving Moulamein we occasionally saw, or heard, a locust hitting the windscreen but thought there were not too many. Then we saw the caravan front with numerous yellow smears of locust innards when we arrived at Deniliquin. I spent several hours in the afternoon cleaning locust bits off the front of the EuroStar before they dried onto the fibreglass and became even harder to remove.