Sunday, 28 September 2014

A brief visit to the Southern Riverina

As we haven't fired up the camper for a few weeks we decided that a visit to the Murray River would be good, before it gets too hot.  Here is approximately the area we visited.
Indeed, heat was not a problem.  It was surprisingly cold, possibly mainly due to the quite strong wind.  As we set off it was a tad showery, but nothing dramatic.  (We found out at Berrigan on the second day that they had scored 23.5 mm out of this front which was very welcome to the cockies.)  This did mean water was lying about all over the place and some of the dirt tracks seemed very sticky when walked on - and would have been 'interesting' to drive on!

On the subject of cockies the paddocks were often yellow with canola flowers, as has become common at this time of year/
 We passed through Lockhart where a bit of art was photographed !  The cut-out farm animals made of corrugated iron are quite a common sight decorating front yards, but this was a very large accumulation of them.
After Urana the roadside had quite a good collection of flowers.  Unfortunately the wind made photography rather difficult but here are a lily ...
 .... some daisies
 and what looked like a form of Lotus.
Finley had not - until now- been included on the Register of War Memorials in NSW, which is somewhat surprising as the Newell Highway, connecting Melbourne and Brisbane, runs through the town and this memorial is right on the highway!
The memorial was unique in that one of the plaques included, in the list of conflicts, the NZ Maori Wars.  I have never seen them mentioned before on a memorial and wonder why the folk of Finley headed off there.

They have an archetypal School of Arts, painted with NSW Public Building Standard colour.
By the time we had got to Finley the sky had cleared and we set up camp at the showground.  This appears to have been set up to enable the town to be declared "RV friendly" and thus attract the wallets of grey nomads off the highway and into the local businesses.
The truck is on the highway - far enough away to be not too noisy.  At night they were quite pretty, especially when a convoy of B-doubles came through!

The showground also has stables which made it an attractive place for passing horse-persons to camp.  I had been told that many of these were going to an Australian Schools Championship being held at Werribee..
 After a good nights sleep we headed off to Berrigan to see if they had a Memorial.  Indeed they did.  According to a sign this Soldiers Memorial Hall includes an Honour Roll with 115 names on it, but I couldn't get in to photograph them.
The town had some well maintained old (by Australian standards) buildings of which the Federal Hotel was my chosen example.
It was a pleasant town, and seemed quite prosperous but I still wonder what - or where - it is "better" than.  Perhaps you are a Galah if you believe this?
On the matter of cockatoos when we got to Tocumwal we found that Long-billed Corellas were not welcome.
The sign seems to be in two minds whether they are native birds or not (they are) and doesn't mention what I suspect to be the real reason the birds are seen by the Council as a menace  - their depredation on gain and fruit crops.

Beside the Murray is a Big Murray Cod.
Apparently this was installed in 1967 after 3 local ladies raised £3,000 to cover the cost.  It was claimed to be the 2nd "Big Thing" to be erected in Australia.  According to Wikipedia the first was a Big Scotsman in Medindie SA (and they at least one other before 1967!

Close by this is an information centre, with a Small Glider.  This commemorates the first (of 4) World Gliding Championships won by a local instructor, Ingo Renner.
 A mural by the Murray River reflects history.
 This is the old bridge which is now closed to road traffic (but the rails look as though a train crosses from time to time).  Personally the grid felt a tad fragile so we didn't go far: Tammy stuck to the plating under the rails.
 Our final town in NSW for this trip was Mulwala where an unrecorded Memorial was found.
I didn't like this place as it seemed to be a very artificial 'holiday town'.  It also sold the nastiest (about 30% gravy) pepper steak pie I have tried to eat in a long while.

We crossed over to Yarrawonga in Victoria and got directions to some bush camping locations.  We found quite a pleasant site on the River Murray but it seemed to have quite a lot of large family groups there.  My mind went back to our stay at Hosanna Bogan Reserve near Murwillumbah and I suggested that we opt for plan B.

Also, as the hoped for 'bush' seemed to be mainly rank grass and thistles, my plans for a lot of flower hunting seemed hopeless.  We did find Rainbow Bee-eaters which were a positive.
Frances acquired a few litres of Olive Oil at a nearby producer, and we headed for the wineries of Rutherglen.

The first we came to was Warrabilla.  The winemaker was around chatting to punters and was quite happy for Tammy to come in.  The wine was really nice albeit it a tad expensive (apart from the cleanskin Durif at about $10 a bottle).  We joined their club and drove away with some interesting samples for 'ron (as in Late-ron).

Chambers then got a visit and more good-value weight was added to the camper.  We knew Tammy was OK in there.  I noticed as we drove away that their opening hours on Sunday start at "10ish": truth in advertising!

We rumbles round to the campground and set up on the banks of Lake King (originally the town water supply).
A building across the fence appeared to be attracting a crowd which turned out to be the public tasting for the Rutherglen Wine Show.  They went until 10pm after which there was a bit of talking as people left and then a few crashes as the empties were put in a skip.
Obviously a popular event: we did notice a couple of cars were left on site in the morning.

Rumble on down the road towards home.  We were diverted off the highway as it had been closed since 7:30pm on Friday following a truck crash, including a fatality.  The road was still officially closed when we got home at 2pm on the Saturday, but trucks had been coming up the highway when we rejoined: presumably they had been North of the diversion via Culcairn when the road was shut.

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