Sunday, 26 June 2022

An Unexpected Outing

Years ago, and for quite a few years, we used to have a “Winter Solstice Motorcycle Ride”.  They were also a “Mick’s Mystery Ride”.  The format was that on the weekend closest to the Winter Solstice a group of friends would go for a motorcycle ride.  No one other than us would know the route.  We would end up somewhere for a roast of the day pub counter lunch, athough it was becoming increasingly difficult to actually find a pub that still did a roast lunch.  The numbers attending varied from about three to about a dozen bikes.  The rules were that you couldn’t pike out regardless of the weather, and we did ride through some snow one year.  Anyway, this hasn’t taken place for quite some time.  

On Wednesday evening, being the shortest day of the year, we had a phone call from one of our mates that used to go on those rides.  He said he was thinking of us and remembering the great rides we used to have at this time of year.  “Well”, we said, “Why don’t we go this weekend?”  So yesterday we did. It wasn’t a mystery this time, just a good excuse to get a bike out and use it.

There were just the two bikes and we decided to ride out to the historic gold mining village of Hill End for a pie at the little tea rooms. Generally, we seem to ride out via the Turondale Road and return home via Sofala.  This time we did it in reverse.
I always try to take a photo of the pretty bridge at Wallaby Rocks, near Sofala.
It’s quite a windy road on the way out. Mind you, it is so much better than it was until fairly recently, when it was finally sealed.  Sadly, some of the road surface was in a poor state of repair, but I think that is pretty much the case with many roads, right up the eastern side of Australia, after all the rain over the last twelve months or so.
We arrived at Hill End just in time for an early lunch.
The tea rooms are only open on weekends.
We were surprised to see that it was fairly quiet for a change.
Lunch was just a simple pie.  I had honey mustard chicken, Mick had lamb and rosemary and our mate had beef and mushroom.  They were all delicious.  We then followed those up with blackberry and apple pie for pudding.  Somewhat decadent and filling.

It was rather pleasant sitting in the sunshine.  We were very fortunate with the weather, as it was the best day we have had for some time.  We were rugged up, but quite snug.
The property has a flock of rather pretty chooks.
We had to have a quick ride around the village before heading home.  The whole village was rather quiet.  I’m sure that will change next weekend, when school holidays start.  It is always very busy at those times. Not the best photos, as they were just snapped as we rode past.
I was very surprised to see some daffodils already starting to bloom.  Ours are barely out of the ground.
We called in at our favourite little lookout, as usual.
Snubby, the silver sidecar was our bike of choice for this ride.  Well, my choice, as I could wrap myself up in the picnic rug and stay nice and warm. I was wondering when I was last in Snubby and thought it would possibly be a couple of years.  Well, it turns out it was back in March 2020, and funnily enough, it was a ride to Hill End, just as COVID 19 was starting to ramp up.  You can read about it here. I think Mick has been for one ride on her since then.  The poor girl will be feeling rather neglected.

Let’s hope it isn’t that long before we go for another ride on her.

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Mundi Mundi Bash Trip - Part 7

On the Sunday, after all the Mundi Mundi bash concerts were over, we started on the next leg of our journey.  No, we didn’t go straight home, there were plenty more interesting places to explore.
The ground looked particularly red in the morning light.
Waving bye to the volunteers, who were still working hard.  They really made a positive impact on the event.
Past the welcoming sign on the way out.
As the long line of traffic snaked its way past the wind farm on its way back through Silverton to Broken Hill.
Our first stop was in Broken Hill to indulge in a rather decadent breakfast.  I think that French toast was the best I’ve ever tasted.

Now that we were refreshed, it was time to hit the road.  A road we have not been on before.  We have been to Broken Hill on several occasions, but have never headed south from there.  
We have often heard that the “Silver City Highway” is the most boring road in the country.  We have heard that of other roads as well and always found it not to be the case.  We were interested to see how boring this road was.
It started out very flat, but there was a silver mine on one side.
Then there were power lines heading off into the distance.  In the middle of nowhere, there was a bend in their direction.  Why would you do that?
Eventually, there was a distinct change in the landscape, as we entered mallee country.
Being a Sunday, there wasn’t much traffic, but we did see the occasional road train.
At about lunch time we came to a watercourse.  It was the Darling River Anabranch. An anabranch is a stream that leaves a river and re-enters it down stream.  The Darling River Anabranch is a little different in that it leaves the Darling River and then enters the Murray River, just downstream of the main Darling River and Murray River junction.
The Anabranch is fed from the Menindee Lakes system and had been dry since 2017.  Finally, in late 2021, as the lakes filled after the breaking of the drought, water was released and the Anabranch began to flow once more.  Many fish fingerlings were released at the time as well and they travelled down the river. We were so lucky to see it full. 
It was a delightful place to enjoy our lunch.
As we continued on our way we started to see agricultural land, mainly planted to grape vines.  
Finally, we once again came to the Darling River.

Yep, that was definitely the most boring road in the country - not!!

We did have some entertainment as we drove along.  We always used to listen to CDs in the car or ute, but of course the new models no longer provide a CD player.  We have never got around to loading music onto our phones, so do miss that. Radio stations are often very scratchy once you are in the outback as well. Yes, we could listen to Spotify, but we don’t have premium and there is no internet coverage. For the first time, on this trip, I had downloaded a couple of audio books from the library before we left home.  That kept us amused for a while.  We enjoyed the first one, but the voice of one of the readers on the second was rather annoying, so we ditched it.  We will do this again in the future.
Our destination for the day was the little village of Curlwaa, just east of Wentworth, on the New South Wales side of the border.
We stayed in a little caravan park right beside the Murray River and another of those historic lifting bridges.  
In the evening we went for a bit of a walk and the river and bridge looked beautiful in the golden light.
The following day was Anzac Day and were going to find a local service to attend.  However, we discovered that the owner of the caravan park is an ex serviceman and was going to hold a little service in the morning.  Firstly, we watched the Canberra Dawn Service on the TV in the camp kitchen, followed by a breakfast provided by the caravan park.  We just made a donation, which was going to the local RSL Club.  Quite a few of the guests in the park attended.  It was a nice catch up for everyone. Next year he hopes to expand to having an actual service, complete with bugler.  We wish him well with his plans.
Our plans for the day included some socialising.  First we had to cross that lifting bridge over the mighty Murray and enter the state of Victoria.
We travelled to Mildura to visit Jo, her hubby and brother.   It was great to catch up again, after only seeing each other a fortnight before at Scrub Stitchin’. I loved seeing her creative space.
I had baked a couple of days earlier,  (yes, I even baked while at the Mundi Mundi Bash), so was able to take along some slice for morning tea.  We felt rather honoured, as Jo also baked a delicious cake.

Our quick little visit ended up growing to a couple of hours, which passed rather quickly.  I do hope that we can welcome them to our home at some stage.

As most places would be closed for Anzac Day and the fact we had visited Mildura some years ago, we didn’t even venture into the centre of the town, rather we returned to Wentworth.
Between the two towns there is another small town, Merbein.  We were impressed with what looked to be a rather new mural on a wall.

Back in New South Wales we went in search of the junction of the Darling and Murray Rivers.  We have seen this before, both from the river bank and on a paddle steamer ride.  
We saw a sign about the junction and followed the road.  The area didn’t look familiar from last time, but we’d have a look.  It turned out that we had driven to the car park for “Junction Island”. This was a bonus.  A nice easy walk to see the junction from a different perspective.
It was really interesting.  The landscape changed as we went along.
There were quite a few interpretive boards along the way, which were really helpful in understanding the island and its vegetation.
Once we reached about the middle of the island we came to an area that had been burnt by a bushfire in the not too distant past.  It was sad to see the ancient old river red gums that had been destroyed.
It was also interesting to see crevices in the ground where the roots of trees had burnt.
There was quite a bit of bird life on the island.  We could hear this kite (I assume it is a kite) and were pleased to see it and its nest.
The landscape changed again, as we entered an area with lots of long grass.  
I could have got lost in all the long grass that was taller than me. It was actually really boggy walking through some of this area and I wasn’t wearing my walking boots, as we were not expecting to be doing this. Oh well, shoes dry out and get cleaned.
Yes, the interpretive board told us all about it.
Finally, we reached the end of the island, where the two rivers meet…… and you couldn’t really get much of a photo, not that it mattered.  You can sort of see that the river to the right of Mick is browner - that is the Darling.

We were really pleased that we stumbled across this walk, as it was so very interesting to learn about the local environment.

We retraced our steps back to the ute and then went to the other park, right in town where you can see the river junction a bit better. 
We had been to the other park previously, with its viewing platform.
The different colours of the rivers didn’t show up all that well on the day we were there.  You can see the island we were on in the background.
This shows it a bit better.
The park also had a clever garden feature, that mimicked the houses over the road.
The log in front was also very clever, having fish carved into it.
From here we drove a little bit downstream from the confluence to “Lock 10”.
You could actually see the different coloured water from here.
On our way back to the caravan park we called in at a roadside stall we had seen earlier.  We had noticed quite a few in the area.  We bought a few fruit and veg and some pickles, supplemented by a nice yarn with the old bloke who ran the stall from his garage. It’s a pity there aren’t more stalls like this.

And that about filled our day.  There is so much more to see in the area.  We had spent a week based at Mildura some years ago with the Ulysses Club rally.  We saw quite a bit then, but there is still plenty more to see, and we didn’t even touch on Mildura this time.  It gives us a very good excuse to come back again.

More soon.