Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
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31 July 2012 - Broken Hill to Menindee
The morning opened a cool day with blue sky, bright sunshine and very light wind and as we packed up and connected the caravan to drive to Menindee 110 kilometres away on the Darling River. Shortly after we left Broken Hill we passed the sign advising us we were entering the zone for Eastern Standard Time but, since we plan to return to Broken Hill in a few days time, we didn't adjust our watches.

The road to Menindee is two lanes of bitumen with a good surface; we were comfortable cruising at 85 to 90 kph. Traffic was very light, comprising a few other caravans, some sedans and the Post Office contractor. About 15 kilometres from Broken Hill the road goes over Mount Darling Range which is a little hilly and requires the road to wind around hills a bit; apart from that section of hills the road is mostly nearly flat and nearly straight. There are no bridges; the road descends onto floodways to cross creeks and heavy rain would make travel difficult. Surrounding land varied from dead flat plains stretching to the horizon to gently undulating, low hills. Everything was covered by bluebush, saltbush or grass with scattered shrubs. Stephens Creek, crossing the road, was lined with gum trees but these did not extend far from the the creek.

The land is pastoral leases, mostly grazing sheep, but with one herd of cattle near the road. These are the first cattle we have seen since far south of Mildura. Fences were few and far between and we passed at least one roadkill sheep.

There were many emus along the road, mostly in groups of up to six birds which we suspect were family groups of a father and his brood of nearly grown-up offspring. Most emus were well back from the road but one pair caused some concern since there was a bird on each side of the road as we approached and there was a strong probability one, or both, would cross the road in front of us so I slowed down considerably. But neither of them moved as we passed. The only kangaroos or wallabies we saw were three roadkill; on a sunny day like today kangaroos are more likely to be lying in the sun sheltered from the breeze than out and about feeding so we were not surprised at not seeing any.

Emus
Emus beside the Menindee Road. The background vegetation is typical of the region.
For most of the way from Broken Hill there are few signs of human activity. As the road approached Menindee we came upon the railway line between Adelaide and Sydney, then the above-ground pipeline taking water to Broken Hill crossed the road, then a row of electrical pylons carrying high-tension lines from Broken Hill to Menindee appeared and ran parallel with the road. The railway crossing was protected by the usual flashing lights and was also floodlit from very high poles; it would be quite a sight in the black of a dark night.

We knew the selected caravan park was on the Broken Hill side of Menindee and were ready for the turn-off down a short length of dirt road. At the park we selected a vacant, well grassed site and set up without the awning since even the "good" sunny days are really a bit too cool to sit out in. While we were setting up a pied butcherbird sat on top of a nearby tree singing its remarkable song; that turned out to be an introduction to the extensive bird life of Menindee. The park is on the shores of Lake Menindee and we were able to look out on the nearly full lake which we were told was dry for nine years during the drought when it was used to graze 3,000 head of cattle. After setting up we went to have a look at the township and at some of the interesting things around the town and lakes systems.

Sunsets are reputed to be spectacular across Menindee Lake but there was still no cloud by the time the sun set and clouds are needed for the very best sunsets. Nevertheless this was pretty good with a wide band of red colouring extending around much of the horizon.
Emus
Sunset across Menindee Lake.
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