Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
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17 July 2012 - Kingston on Murray to Mildura
Kingston on Murray caravan park was fairly empty as we drove out this morning; not quite completely empty but plenty of vacant sites. We were soon on the Sturt Highway bound initially for Renmark with Mildura as the destination for the day. The weather was excellent for travelling; bright sun, clear blue sky and no wind. Temperature was about 9°C according to the Pathfinder external thermometer but we were comfortable in the vehicle. Traffic was light, comprising heavy transports and sedans. When the Sturt Highway turned to go around Berri it became clear most of the sedans were local traffic as they went into Berri instead of going around the town and on to Renmark.

The Sturt Highway passes through Renmark but total traffic remained light. We were seeing a surprising number of caravans on this road. After weeks of seeing three or four a day and going into nearly empty caravan parks we passed many vans going the other way. This steady flow continued all the way to Mildura, most were Victorian or South Australian registration. The major category of traffic on the road was heavy transports, but the Sturt Highway is the main road between Sydney and Adelaide so truck traffic is to be expected.

The area between Kingston and Renmark is heavily devoted to wine with numerous vines in paddocks along the road and several wineries with rows of tanks for holding wine.

Beyond Renmark the road crosses the Murray River at Paringa Bridge (speed limit 30 kph). Then the Sturt Highway leaves the Murray River heading east towards Mildura. The highway has an excellent surface at this stage, mostly a two-lane highway with several passing sections as it made its way towards the Victorian border. Just before the border the highway passes the quarantine check point but that checks only vehicles entering South Australia; vehicles like us, going into Victoria, were not stopped or checked. Before the SA/Vic border the road passed through a cropping area with this years crop (probably wheat) about 20 centimetres high and bright green from fence to fence in the paddocks.

The Victorian border was marked by a sign and a reduction in quality of the road surface. Whereas the Sturt Highway in South Australia had retained a good surface despite the number of heavy transports on it, in Victoria the road surface was not nearly as good. Not bad enough to have to slow down but definitely less comfortable. The other difference was the ending of cropland along a very sharp line at the border. In Victoria this land was been designated as a national park and remains covered by mallee.

As soon as we crossed into Victoria we were faced with a sign proclaiming that we were now in the Rural City of Mildura, although Mildura itself was more than a hundred kilometres away.

The Sturt Highway in Victoria east of the SA border is nearly dead straight; even a slight bend in the road is an event. But it is not flat, the road is going up or down a gentle hill nearly all the time. The slopes are gentle in a motor vehicle but a cyclist may find them harder. The generally straight road with gentle slopes and low hills, combined with low traffic levels to ensure that faster vehicles, especially heavy transports which prefer to cruise at 100 kph, could easily overtake even on the mostly two-lanes of bitumen. Overtaking lanes were now unusual.

After the National Park ended the road was passing cropping land but different to cropland in South Australia passed earlier in the day. Whereas the SA land was green with growing young crops many of the Victorian paddocks appeared to be empty, or retaining the stubble from the last crop in a no-till arrangement. Eventually we saw some paddocks with a light tint of green, presumably a very young crop, but most paddocks appeared not to have a crop in them.

Near Cullulleraine, about 56 kilometres from Mildura, we passed through an irrigated region. One property was growing grapes drip irrigated from the Murray River while further along was a drip irrigated almond orchard. Grapes and almonds around Cululleraine were exceptions; wheat is the main product of this area, known as the Millewa stretching from Mildura to the national park adjacent to the SA border, but why there was so little wheat growing today was not known.

The lack of livestock had been obvious today; we did finally pass a flock of sheep 15 kilometres before reaching Mildura.

The caravan park we use in Mildura is on the Renmark side of town so we didn't need to go into Mildura proper to turn off into the park to check in and setup on a good site. The weather today had warmed up a little from the morning; the sky had remained clear and sunny but some wind had come up for the last hour or so.

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