Thursday, 12 October 2017

Over the Murray and not so far away

For some reason - possibly the stress of chasing the tent down a cliff - I had a remarkably poor night's sleep.  But the wind was behaving appropriately when I got up to make the morning libation to/of the God of Caffeine. 

Late on the previous evening a camper pulled in to the park and set up at a powered site.  The occupants were very quiet so not a problem.  This morning a lady emerged with a huge, and slightly strange looking, mutt.  It was interested in Tammy, and vice versa, and it emerged it was a recently shorn Groodle   I had not previously heard of this mixture and assumed - from the size and look of the beast it was a Great Dane x Poodle cross,  Dr Google advises it is in fact a Golden Retriever x Poodle cross so it was either:
  • based on a Standard Poodle rather than the usual miniature; or
  • a proof of hybrid vigour; or
  • the product of a mis-identified male parent (on the assumption that the breeders knew what the female was)!
The lady couldn't stop to chat as her husband was due to start work at 7am.  That in itself was not too bad, as it was still 5 minutes to 7.  The problem was that his workplace was in Urana, which is 140km away if their camper, towing a car, could use the dry weather road or at least 160km if going other ways.  I opined he was going to be a touch late.

We then set off for a walk, heading back to the dry weather road.  This gave us a chance to look at the statue of the Peppin Merino.
 Reading the linked Wikipedia article makes it clear that the Peppins were masters of hybrid vigour with several breeds other than the Spanish Merino evident in their strategy.  It is also interesting that Wanganella Station in its various elements seems to have ended up with the Falkiner family, as did Haddon Rigg (another famous Merino stud) and Foxlow Station, just down the road from home.  They sold out to News Ltd who subsequently sold all the properties and stock to the Australian Food & Agriculture Company Limited who still have their shingle on the gate.

We started out walking down the Cobb Highway, noting that Wanganella was a staging post for the company on the run from Deniliquin (~40km South) to Hay (~80km North).  At least the coaches had a level run: Deni' is 100m above sea level and Hay 90!  I'll cover some more thoughts on elevation in the final segment.

The walk was quite pleasant with relatively few trucks on the Highway and none on the km or so of the dirt road.  Most of the vegetation here is saltbush although we did notice theses unusual looking mini-melon fruit of the ground.
 In close up they look more like mini-sea mines!  It seems from Wikipedia they are Cucumis myriocarpus with a common name of paddy melon.  (The other plants with much larger fruit that everyone calls paddy melons are another species.  There is an implication in the article that 99% of Australians are in error.  My alternate hypothesis is that taxonomists are full of it.)
 This windmill is at the gate of the caravan park and as it turns makes a rather musical chiming note.  This caused me some angst in trying to find the calling bird!
We spotted some sandhills near where the highway crosses Box Creek and they were checked for White-backed Swallows.  No luck, despite there being some promising burrows in the sandhills,  More promising burrows were seen in this sandhill viewed from the Pretty Pine Recreation Reserve,but again no Swallows.  I was intrigued by the idea of birds nesting in such a site!
The slimy patch is where a locust or some other bug splatted itself on the windscreen and doesn't indicate that a large bullet has passed through me!

We passed through the edge of Deniliquin and headed in the direction of Finley.  Many of the paddocks along this road were paddie-ocks, being prepared for planting rice.  This one was starting to get wet, and was being investigated by a bunch of Little Ravens and one White-necked Heron.
 Other paddies varied from being fully flooded (with water evaporating like crazy).  Others were still suggesting that the answer to the question "Where is Finley's topsoil?" is "In Narrandera!

We proceeded on our way, crossing the mighty Murray at Tocumwal and visiting the Rich Glen Olive emporium near Yarrawonga.  A few small bottles were acquired while we marveled at the number of cars in the car park.

Progressing onwards we arrived at Warrabilla Wines, where a small amount of tasting happened and a moderate (by our definition) amount of excellent (by any definition) wine found its was way into the car.  This was mainly of the variety Durif which is a specialty of the Region and, if you like big reds, the best around.

More progress happened towards Chambers establishment close to the township of Rutherglen.  As there was by now limited room in the car only a couple of cases were acquired.

We then hauled in to the campground beside Lake King and set up for the night.  The wind wasn't evident so we didn't have to haul the tent out of the Lake.  We were warned about a family of Masked Lapwings which passed by each evening (and were likely to attack Tammy) but they had already set up camp down by the Lake.

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