Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Murray - Part 3

We had reached Mildura on our quest to reach the sea along the Murray but had to backtrack to Canberra for Stuart's brother Peter's 60th birthday.  It was a great day with lots of family and friends around to help him celebrate. 
Peter (birthday boy) Sandy, James, Stuart, Andrew, Me and family friend Dianne

about to blow the candles out on the amazing cake made by Peters daughter Amanda
The birthday boy was suitably impressed when both Stuart's sons, James from Clermont and Andrew from Brisbane, arrived from Qld to help him celebrate.
James with Sandy and son David
James, Phil, Andrew, Amanda and David
We got the opportunity to do a rerun of a photo of the 5 fledgling Hawkes, which was taken about 30 years ago but unfortunately Stuart's and Peters sister Christine who is in the first picture couldn't be with us for the recreation as she passed away 6 years ago.

All the Hawke men

Of course while in Canberra we caught up with our daughter Kylie, her husband Pete and the lovely Emma. The family moved to Canberra about 6 months ago.
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Our first stop of any significance was back in Wagga where we returned to Wilkes Park, the free camp just out of town.  The Murrumbidgee was rising and after a day or so the authorities came and requested that we all leave as the river was expected to peak over night.  We had hooked up and had the car facing forward with the gear stick in G for go anyway but headed into a caravan park that was above high water level.

The Caravan Park in the middle of Wagga flooded


 Just 24 hours between the first and last photo
of the picnic table cover

We had taken a run around town to check out water levels and saw that the caravan park right in town had been evacuated and the water was halfway up the amenities walls

Wilkes Park flooded

The Murray and Murrumbidgee River systems were still in flood and when we got to Narrandera and pulled in to a camp on the outskirts of town we decided to go into town out of the rising floodwater's reach. 
Going to the toilet was out of the question

Stuart considering fishing off our patio

And I guess a fire was out too

Along the way we crossed the Murray many times using the punts or ferries attached to thick wire rope in either side.  My heart skipped a beat everytime we drove onto the punt. Stuart walked down one night when we were camped near one to ride back and forth talking to the driver.

We crossed the border into South Australia and didn't even have to show our passports but had a quarantine fellow check out our fridge and cupboards for any fruit or veggies.  I had already cooked all I had left so I didn't get it confiscated.

As we had heard about an old historic pub about 1/2 an hours drive out of Berri called the Overland Corner Hotel.  This old pub was a watering place near the Murray for over landers and drovers in the early 1800's.  The building was built in 1859 to cater to the drovers and a staging point for the coach route from NSW to Adelaide.  It was also a favourite watering hole for the famous bush ranger Captain Moonlight who while drinking on horseback in the bar at the pub insisted that both the front and back doors be kept open for a fast getaway.  It soon became too hot for him here so he moved back to NSW where he was captured and hanged on 20 January 1884 in Sydney.

With a few days around Renmark to see the sights we met a very interesting character who lived on the River in his "houseboat". He invited us on board to have a look around.  He had all the mod cons and the council allow him to tie up near the Information Centre as he is considered a tourist attraction.  While we were there he sang us a song while keeping an eye on his tea which was a pot of indescribable stew.

He did have a loo on board and toilet paper must have been cheap this week

Behind this door was his bed (blankets on the floor)  where his 4 chooks slept also

The wheel House

The Galley

The Stove

These wildflowers boardered the highway for miles

A visit to Berri while in the area bought us to the winery with the largest holding facilities in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere at Berri Estates.  There are approx 1550 holding tanks holding 268million + litres of grape juice.  Sending 100 million litres of wine overseas and 30 million sold domestically. They crushed over 214,560 tonnes of fruit in 2015.

All this time heading vaguely west through Swan Reach and seeing some magnificent cliffs dropping down to the rivers edge.

We were to meet friends a week later so detoured up to Hahndorf.  The town was established by German immigrants who bought with them their Lutheran religion, their grape growing and wine making skills and their beautiful heritage.  We had morning tea in a lovely tea house of amazing German cake and wandered the quant towns Main Street along with a few thousand other tourists. 

We had lunch in a German cafe and dined on German sausage and German beer.

Outside one of the tea houses were two lovely customers who invited me to join them for a cuppa

By then we were German'd out and it was time to head to Murray Bridge.

One of the biggest storm in 50 years to hit South Australia arrived around the same time as we did so we stayed put till it cleared.   We were perfectly ok with a little power loss (which didn't affect us too much) rain and some wind.
The aftermath meant that we travelled through a fair bit of water but on only one occasion were we  going to turn around when somebody went past us and went through and we followed his wake.
Even the vinyards got quite a soaking
Keen to catch up with Colleen and Geoff Jones soon who waited out the storm a little closer to it than us but they fared well also.

We met the Jones' a few years ago in Tasmania where we saw the New Year in at Hobart with them and another lovely couple from Western Australia who we hope to catch up with in the next 6-12 months.
After 4-5 days of their company which culminated with a dinner cruise on the paddle steamer "Captain Proud" up and down the Murray River out of Murray Bridge we bad them goodby.  Thanks Colleen and Geoff Jones and hope to see you both somewhere in Western Australia in the next year or so.

Sunset from the front of the boat

Back on the Murray River again we finished our mamoth journey from Tom Groggans Camp which is as far up as the Murray can be reached by car in mid January. It is situated on Alpine Way between Khancoban and Thredbo in New South Wales.  In nearly 9 months we have crossed 3 state borders, the Murray itself sometimes up to 5 times in one day and probably 150 times in all, and travelled nearly 17,500 kms but we have finally reached the mouth at Goolwa in South Australia.
This was a journey of just over 13 hours - did we meander too much?
The mouth of the Murray is best seen over on Hindmarsh island, accessable across a bridge. 
While we were there, dredges were constantly removing silt and sand that had been brought in by the tide.  There are also a series of barrages set up at the mouth to keep the salt water from rushing too far up river.  In doing this it aided the rivers fresh water fish and the ecology of the river.  At one of the barrages where the river flows through the wall seals gather to feed on the fish swimming out to sea.  Some were so satiated that they just lounged on whatever they found to sleep in the sun.

At Granite Island  just off Victor Harbour is only accessible via the bridge by foot or if you are like us via a horse drawn tram.

So we now come to the end of this leg of our journey and we look forward to you joining us as we continue our quest for the west.

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