Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
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12 April 2012 - Heathcote to Echuca
The night was very cold - down to 1°C measured outside the van at 5:30 a.m. - but the day was bright and sunny with a clear blue sky so the temperature rose fairly quickly once the sun came up. I had connected the caravan and Pathfinder just before dark last night and it didn't take long to pack up the service connections (electricity, grey water and fresh water) and leave the park. We were going only as far as Echuca today, about 100 kilometres, so we took time to have a final cup of coffee in one of Heathcote's bakeries before we left. Now that the hectic Easter weekend was well and truly over the bakery had reverted to a quiet business with only a couple of other customers; it was very different to the hive of activity during the Easter break with dozens of people in the shop.

We left Heathcote on the Northern Highway (the B75) through grazing country (mainly sheep) with a few vineyards nearer Heathcote. The road is reasonably good with two lanes of bitumen; traffic was fairly light but there was a noticeable number of semi-trailers in both directions which appeared to be carrying grain. The UHF radio was fairly busy with business traffic between drivers and there was very little of the social chit-chat which quickly becomes annoying. A number of B-doubles, probably carrying general freight to Echuca, were also encountered; most of them first seen in the rear vision mirror as they caught up then overtook. The bitumen was wide enough for a B-double to overtake our caravan but it was a little tight. The weather remained very good for travelling throughout. Grazing was the main agricultural activity, with sheep and a few alpaca flocks in paddocks along the road. Paddocks were lightly timbered

At the small town of Elmore we crossed the Campaspe River and joined the road between Bendigo and Echuca. The road was a better standard but the traffic was heavier with heavy transports (semi-trailers and B-doubles) well in evidence and a number of caravans heading south towards Bendigo. School holidays in Victoria end in a few days time and that may have had something to do with the van traffic. By the time the road passed through Elmore the elevation was below 150 metres after a gentle downhill run from Heathcote where the caravan park was at 255 metres elevation. Not a significant descent but sufficient to indicate that we were now well out of the southern Victorian hills.

At the next town, Rochester, we crossed a main irrigation channel confirming that we were in the Murray Valley Irrigation area. The land was now flat and open.

Approaching Echuca we relied on the GPS to direct us and were pleasantly surprised when it took us along a route with much lighter traffic than I would have selected on the map. The caravan park we had selected is close to the Port of Echuca and proved to be well run, very busy and just about full, but not noticeably crowded. We had a large, grassed, drive-through site and were soon set up for a week stay.

Setting up the television was interesting; Echuca does not have local television transmitters so we had to find by trial and error which of the available transmitter sites around Echuca provided the channels we most wanted to watch. Once again, we decided in favour of the commercial channels on television and would use the internet to watch ABC and SBS. An added twist to the television story was that many television channels around Echuca use vertical polarisation of the signal which the Wineguard aerials commonly used in caravans (and on our van) cannot receive. After similar problems last year I had added a vertical polarity section to the caravan aerial; this appeared to work quite well despite the unusual appearance it gave the aerial.

After lunch we went into Echuca to refresh our memories of the town and to do a little shopping. Then back to the van where we sat under the awning for some time watching events and talking. The weather all day was bright and sunny and the afternoon fairly warm.

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