After 16324 kilometres, we are home. How do I know? Its freezing – I knew there was a reason we try to miss August in Leongatha.
Left our free camp at Dimboola latish after a night of heavy rain. We called into Horsham and Ararat for a look around before heading on to our last camp (yes, free) at Avoca. Lovely old town with a lovely gastro-pub. Had a marvelous meal to celebrate our last night on the road. So that is it, done and dusted, we should be home in our own beds tomorrow night.
Parting is such sweet sorrow – until nest year, goodbye.
Spent the day today going south, meandering through north-west Victoria. Made it to Warracknabeal to have a look through the amazing secondhand everything shop. From there it was on to Dimboola where we decided to set up camp outside of town in, you guessed it, a free camp. The fuel figures today were nearly as good as Coober Pedy to William Creek. We had strong tail wind nearly all day and got down to 11.1 litres per hundred kilometres. Saves refuelling before heading home.
We will head into Horsham tomorrow for a good look around before deciding where to next.
Just for something different, today we did the self-guided Chafey tour of historic sites in and around Mildura. It was interesting, including the visit to Psyche Bend Pumping Station, which, wouldn’t you know it, is open nearly every other day except Wednesdays. Unfortunately this led to us passing the sign to Woodie’s Gem World, thus requiring a stop on the return journey to Mildura. Two sets of earrings later we were back on the road. My turn for the retail therapy, so I bought myself some new boots. We also found another contender for the fruit bowl.
Visited poor old Merbein on the way back to the campsite. Its deader than before. The Great Vanilla Slice Competition is on on Saturday, but the town itself has lost the competition – only about five shops trading. We need a solution to these dying towns – refugees?
Left Silverton for the sad drive back into Broken Hill (oh my broken heart) and on down to Victoria to start weaving our way home. We called into the Information Centre then ducked out the road to Orange World for a tour of the citrus farm. Very entertaining and informative, highly recommend it to any old age pensioner with a spare ten dollars.
We picked out a fabulous campsite on the Murray which we hope we can have for two nights. Tomorrow Mildura and Merbein await (especially the Vanilla Slices at Merbein)
Left the caravan park for a brief, fruitless visit to the Silver City Mint (also known as the Chocolate Factory). The shop is plastered with discount stickers, “On Sale” , “This month only” etcetera, sounds like the last retail gasps. We went out to Silverton only to discover that it, to, is struggling. The VWs have faded nearly as much as the tourist experience. The Cafe is for sale and isn’t open for business, some of the houses have new additions that, despite being sympathetic to the surroundings, seem out of place. A “Mad Max II” Museum has opened. We travelled out to the reservoir only to discover that it is bone dry, not a skerrick of water in the whole 145 hectare dam.
We ended up making camp in what seems to best some up the way things are going here – the cemetery (not really, just on the road outside).
Thank god its Sunday. We checked out the local, not so well known artists and their galleries today (The Chocolate Factory was closed for today). Also checked out the collectables and antique shops, had apple pie and a spider at Bell’s Milk Bar, visited the Visitor Centre to view the lookout and then went out to the Solar Farm for a squizz. A laid back day finished off by relaxing in the warm sun back at camp. Life is surely sweet.
Woke to another chilly morning – 0º, but we had prepared for it by putting on the thermals before going to bed. A great roadside camp. We had a freight train pass in the night, lovely to hear that sound in the middle of nowhere. Left camp a little later this morning and made it into Broken Hill about 11a.m. It was interesting passing the Broken Hill Solar Farm on the Barrier Highway coming in, massive array of collectors reflecting the sky – quite an artwork in itself. Jenny managed to get some shopping in before we booked into the caravan park, even finding another contender for the fruit bowl.
We left the camp and the Morris clan behind at Parachilna and headed down the highway toward Hawker, covering ground we hadn’t seen before. Still chasing the elusive fruit bowl, we stopped in at Orroroo (where I bought my new hat and a new belt) and then onto Peterborough where we found a possible candidate for the fruit bowl. Continued on until we found a bush camp just north of Yunta
Left Marree bright and early and headed south along the Oodnadatta Track. We called into Farina ruins, which is the remnants of an entire town established in the 1890s but which started returning to the earth after about twenty years as the dry climate killed local agriculture. It is a well maintained site and they are gradually restoring it. From there it was on to Leigh Creek which is a modern day ghost town. The nearby coal mine (for which the town was established in the 1960s) has closed its operations and the town is virtually empty.
Our last Port of call was Parachilna where we set up camp in the old schoolyard before heading out for another memorable night at the Prairie Hotel (also known as the Roadkill Hotel). After enjoying Grant the barman/waiter’s repartee it was back to camp for the fire and old tawny – a great end to another great day.