Having found a lovely campsite just outside Mildura on the Murray River at Buronga we stayed put for 5 days. Day one we spent figuring how to not fall off our bicycles as we negotiated gears, cycle apps, traffic circles, railway lines and heavy trucks over the George Chaffey bridge into the town centre. It is a very fine and efficient way of shopping when everything has to fit into one basket on the back of the bike. Impulse purchases are severely limited. We noted pubs and restaurants to return too, Stefano, a famous Melbourne chef decamped to Mildura and it would seem has pretty much taken over the town as has Rick Stein in Padstowe UK.
The inland botanical garden in Buronga was a nice ride away and so very interesting once the surprise of no formal beds or areas was over. Anything you want to know about the Mallee Scrub is there, and there is lots to know. On the way there we made a mental note to stop at Mandys honesty stall on the way back and pick up some fruit and avos- hah! Mandy was for sale- translate Mandy to mandarins, still learning to speak Australian.
Absolute highlight has been our ride in Mungo Park. Mungo is in the Willandra Lakes Region, a world heritage area and one of the worlds very special places. The Mungo track is a 70 km loop and we rode the first 20 to the remarkable Walls of China lunettes, a huge crescent of dunes, basically across a lake bed, been dry the past 30 000 plus years, but still blue on the topographical maps! And the dry Willandra creek too. It was here in 2003 that tracks were found of Mungo man and Mungo lady – laid down in the clay during the last ice age. One of the texts described the 2 bookends of civilisation being Sterkfontein SA and Mungo Oz. The tracks became visible due to current erosion but the dry lake holds a continuous record of Aboriginal life dating back more than 50 000 years. An amazing place but couldn’t convince Rob the access road was good enough for Van to stay overnight in Park.
On to Broken Hill. Road from Wentworth to BH is straight and uneventful. The coffee at the roadhouse halfway up is good. The standard of coffee in the outback towns I am afraid is generally not good. Milky and watery. Choose wisely. BH is a typical mining town which is not surprising. Wide roads and an interesting treatment of stormwater, with swales through most intersections. CP was average and expensive. There is good self guided walking tour of the town showing what the place looked like on its heyday. We went to the miners memorial on top of one of the mine dumps. It lists all deaths recorded on the mines since mining started. H&S was not an issue in those days.
Day visit to Silverton about 23 km north of BH. 39 dips in the road; obviously the same drainage designer as BH. Silverton is a one horse town, it’s like a movie set, it is a movie set. Hotel/pub is worth a visit. Owner feeds and waters the local donkeys and horses at the front door. Water situation is pretty dire with usual rains not arriving yet.
Then off to Menindee lakes which is the water supply for BH; water is pumped about 110 km from Darling River luckily it’s fairly flat. Some bright spark in the early part of last century saw the opportunity to use the lakes as possible storage. Some clever engineering.
Wine is running low so off to town to restock. More later.