Leaving Mildura we decided to free camp 2-3 nights on the banks of the Murray River on our way into Adelaide. We had plenty of prepared meals as I had spent most of the previous day cooking up all out vegetables because the quarantine restrictions are very stringent crossing into SA meaning most fruit and vegetables would be confiscated at the border if still in their raw state. We crossed back into Victoria just outside Mildura travelling through acres of golden wheat just waiting to be harvested (some paddocks with 2 or 3 emus helping themselves to a snack), vineyards, and orchards, around Lake Cullulleraine and through the Murray Sunset National Park. We crossed the border into South Australia, had a few minutes wait at the quarantine station while the caravans before us were thoroughly checked as was ours. No dramas as all our vegetables were now in a curry pie, guacamole or tomato salsa (ready for the chorizo to be added). We stopped for lunch in the Bert Dix Memorial Park, then travelled through Berri, Barmera, rested a while at Banrock Station Winery and Café enjoying the views over the wetlands while sampling some of their wines.
We had selected a couple of campsites as possible places to stay the night finally deciding on Ramco Point, just out of Waikerie. Found a spot on the river bank, set up camp then sat under the awning on the banks of the river – wonderful spot.
Next morning we wandered through Waikerie then hit the road toward Blanchetown following the river as much as possible through low scrubby bush. Had a bit of a scare when a semi coming toward us drifted to our side of the road coming around a bend; fortunately he moved back to where he should be just before we were head on with him, pHEW!!!!! Shook us up a bit…. There were some fruit trees around Swan Reach, some sheep and cattle but overall the area looks very dry and the ripe wheat crops contributed to this impression. We travelled through Nildottie where the river levels are very high and hopefully the river system can stay this way long enough to fully recover from the drought of the past few years. Derick and I have now seen the river at both extremes, total drought when we went on the Murray River Cruise in January 2010 and now back to healthy water levels.
We stopped at Len Kroehn’s Lookout for some photos just before reaching Purnong Ferry Crossing where we thought we might camp for 2 nights. The Purnong river bank wasn’t very inviting for camping; Derick spoke with the ferry driver and he suggested the Caurnamont river bank on the opposite side of the river. So we took his advice, boarded the ferry and found a beautiful spot on the Caurnamont side of the river joining 3 other campers (1 caravan, 1 motorhome and 1 campervan). We found a spot wide enough for the van with the awning out and setup camp. When we started out on this holiday we used to ask ourselves ‘how do these people sit at these free camp sites for days on end with nothing to do?’ And now 19 weeks later we know; it is all about relaxing and enjoying the moment. Which we can do very well these days :).
Over the next 48 hours the Murray Princess cruised past in the dark, the Proud Mary and many houseboats during the day along with assorted dinghies, jet skis and motorboats.
At one point it was very windy, we had to relight the gas for the fridge a couple of times and our neighbours Paul and Angela couldn’t get theirs to relight. So Derick and Paul pulled it all apart, cleaned out the jets, put it back together and away it went. During which Angela and I got chatting (as you do) and she was an IT tech with one of the large TAFE campuses in SA – small world – it seems they have much the same issues as we do at Challenger.
Once again we had made some knew friends and now it was time to say goodbye, we swapped contact details and left Paul and Angela relaxing on the banks of the Murray while we headed into Adelaide. Our journey today took us through Mannum, Murray Bridge where we had to wait for the Overland train to pass through the town and then onto the freeway. The freeway passed through the Adelaide Hills wine region, Heysun Tunnels, Mount Osmond, Glen Osmond and then onto Brownhill Creek where we had booked into the caravan park for a week. We were in a semi-rural setting in the Adelaide foothills surrounded by bush and state park, very nice, peaceful and tranquil.
That evening we went to Fay and Ray’s for a welcome dinner, sat out on their balcony overlooking the city and ocean and caught up with Derick’s family and their news.