Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
3-13 May 2012 - Mildura
We spent more than a week in Mildura. The weather was variable, probably typical for a mild Victorian autumn; some days were bright, sunny and reasonably warm while others were overcast, windy and cold; a few days were a bit of everything. We remained in and around Mildura, except for one visit to Wentworth in New South Wales at the junction of the Darling and Murray Rivers, and to sandhills near Wentworth.

Mildura is a large rural city containing a full range of shops and businesses. The Rural City of Mildura includes Mildura proper and outlying settlements more than 100 kilometres away. An accurate population figure is hard to obtain because the title 'Mildura' can mean the rural city, the central township, or some other definition of the Mildura Region. Best estimates appear to be about 48,000 for the Rural City and about 30,000 for Mildura proper.
Mall Shopping mall in central Mildura. There are surprisingly few people around for a normal weekday.

Mildura is on flat ground on the southern bank of the Murray River and has spread widely to the south. To the east and west residential blocks merge into blocks of grapevines and it is hard to define any edge to the built-up area. The single business district remains near the river with the longer established shopping district around it. A secondary shopping district has developed around the Centro shopping centre well south along Mildura's main thoroughfare (Deakin Avenue). Growth in the vicinity of the Centro shopping centre has been quite startling with Big W and Dan Murphy under construction and planning to open at the end of May 2012. We were told that a Coles supermarket (the second in Mildura, Woolworths already have two supermarkets open) will be built on a nearby site presently occupied by a caravan park; there is already one Woolworths supermarket in Centro as well as the usual range of clothing, food and drink businesses attracted to shopping malls.

When the city was laid out the practice of using consecutive numbers for many of the main east-west streets and roads was adopted. This system works very well and allows visitors to find their way around the city. For example, when we were trying to find which of the several post offices with Mildura's post code was the one to collect our mail from I was told to go along Deakin Ave and turn along Eighth Street. It was easy to go from Fifteenth Street, where we were, to Eighth Street without looking at a map.
vines Grape vines are widely grown around Mildura. The eastern and western edges of the residential suburbs,especially on the east, merge into hectares of grapevines

The Mildura region has an average annual rainfall of 280 millimetres which puts it in the semi-arid category. Average summer maximum temperature is 32°C but a daily maximum of 40°C is not uncommon; winter averages range from 4°C to 15°C. Low rainfall is offset by availability of irrigation water from the Murray River; this water combines with lots of sunshine to facilitate agriculture. Mildura was founded in 1887 as an irrigation settlement and, despite drawbacks along the way, remains primarily an irrigation area concentrating on grapes (wine and dried fruit) and citrus (oranges with growing emphasis on mandarins). Surrounding the irrigated area and Mildura city is an extensive grain-growing area on cleared mallee scrub.
vines Citrus orchards are also widely found around Mildura, this one is across the Murray in New South Wales.

graft This photograph shows a mandarin grafted onto a mature orange tree. The Orange World citrus orchard we visited has replaced many orange trees with mandarins but new trees take about seven years to develop root systems and begin full production. Many orange trees are having mandarins grafted on; the mandarin will use the existing root system and begin producing fruit much sooner than a newly planted tree.
Heavy reliance on fruit has prompted a fruit-fly exclusion zone around Mildura into which travellers are not allowed to carry fruit and vegetables from outside in case they are infected with fruit fly. Fruit and vegetables may be taken out of the zone without limitation except that South Australia has a similar exclusion zone at the SA border and will confiscate most fruit and vegetables from travellers entering South Australia.

Tourism is a major activity in Mildura. Caravan parks and motels are widespread and houseboats are a major activity with a houseboat marina along the Murray River. At least two paddle steamers operate excursions from the Port of Mildura.

houseboats Houseboats along the Murray River are part of Mildura's tourist industry. Houseboats are normally moored bow on to the bank eliminating the possible difficulty for inexperienced operators bringing a vessel alongside a bank or wharf.