When we left the Flinders Ranges we returned to Port Augusta for fuel and to replenish our food stocks. It was raining and both the van and the truck ended up very muddy from traveling over the gravel road out of Rawnsley Park Station to the bitumen. We thought the rain may wash off some of the dirt on the way to Port Augusta but when we arrived both vehicles were still quite dirty.
We filled up with diesel at a Woolies service station and then parked in one of the streets to visit the local supermarket. Once we had completed our shopping we headed off down the Princes Highway to Crystal Brook (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_Brook,_South_Australia) . There is a nice little park in Crystal Brook with adjacent caravan parking and we decided to take our lunch break at this point. It was still drizzling with a persistent cold breeze so we wasted little time eating and were soon back I the car traveling through Gulnare (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulnare,_South_Australia) and Spalding (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spalding,_South_Australia) to Burra (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burra,_South_Australia) where we decided to stay for the night.
As we had left the van hooked up, it was a quick getaway next morning to take us on to Morgan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgan,_South_Australia) and then to our destination of Renmark (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renmark,_South_Australia) where we stayed for three nights. On the Wednesday we arrived we took a walk around Renmark after lunch to have a look at the town. It is quite a large town with a newish shopping centre anchored by Woolworths and Big W just out of the main commercial area. I’m not sure if the new shopping centre is the cause or whether there is some other reason but there are a lot of empty shops in the CBD of Renmark.
The park we stayed at is frequented by workers – fruit pickers and the like – many of them overseas backpackers; because it was raining the day we arrived and there was little work for the residents the laundry was given a workout and the washing machines and dryer tested robustly all day. As we needed to do some laundry we were up early on Thursday morning, which had dawned bright and clear – and the workers had departed for their jobs, to make use of the laundry facilities. With permission from the park manager I also decided to wash the grime off the caravan – I had washed the truck at a local facility on Wednesday afternoon. Washing, clothes and caravan occupied most of the day with some time devoted to the computer and the blog.
On Friday we set out to do a little sightseeing and drove firstly to Berri (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berri,_South_Australia), then on to Barmera (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barmera,_South_Australia) and Kingston on Murray (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingston-On-Murray,_South_Australia) before we drove to Waikerie (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waikerie,_South_Australia). Margaret’s father came from South Australia and spoke of many of these places where he had worked as a young man before the Second World War.
We drove to the waterfront at Waikerie which, like most towns in the area is dominated by the Murray River; found a small boutique chocolate factory – Havenhand Chocolates (http://www.havenhandchocolates.com/) where we enjoyed Chocolate Mud Cake and Cappuccino and tasted some of their award winning chocolates. After a few stops for photographs we drove back to Kingston on Murray for a visit to Banrock Station (http://www.banrockstation.com.au/content/fine-australian-wines-making-impact-around-world) to taste some of the wines available for sale at the cellar door. We sampled several wines, bought several bottles to take home to Queensland and drove back to Renmark.
On returning to Renmark we stopped off at the Almond Hut operated by Almondco (http://www.almondco.com.au/) and purchased a selection of the almonds grown locally and processed by the company at the large Renmark facility. There are many different products produced at the Renmark facility and we sampled several before deciding on our purchases. Then we visited Rushton’s Rose Garden (http://www.rustonsroses.com/) to have a look at the many blooms being grown locally. There is a little cafe on site and we decided to have a light lunch before walking through the acres of gardens. A collection of cars is also on display at Rushton’s and we found this most interesting. We also visited the waterfront at Renmark and had a closer look at the Paddle Steamer – PS Industry – located at the Visitor Centre.
Saturday morning saw us once again on the road en-route across the SA/VIC state border to Mildura. The journey was relatively short (only 130 kilometres) and we were located o our site at the caravan park by about 11:00am. The park is located diagonally opposite a substantial shopping centre which we visited for supplies after lunch. The rest of the day was spent reading and relaxing and generally doing nothing but eating.
Sunday morning we decided to visit the Australian Inland Botanic Gardens (http://aibg.org.au/) just across the river in New South Wales. We spent some time in the lovely rose garden on site and were quite impressed by what we saw. The roses had been slightly affected by recent rain but were generally very healthy and full of blooms – very impressive.
On the way back to the van we called into Orange World (http://www.orangeworldmildura.com.au/) where we were treated (for a price) to a tour of the orchard with the irrepressible Mario. It was an interesting tour which included a freshly squeezed orange juice and tastings of other products.
Tomorrow morning we will move into New South Wales on our way to Wentworth and Broken Hill. After a few days in Broken Hill we will begin the journey across the state with the ultimate goal of the Gold Coast for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend where we will catch up with our children.