We had very heavy rain overnight, which meant that we both had an interrupted sleep. As newbie motor-homers we were worried about leaks, especially around the slide-out, but finally the weather died down and we got back to sleep (with no leaks). Eventually we were woken by kookaburras singing and heralding in a nice sunny morning with clear blue skies. We took our time getting ready and packing up and generally enjoying the sunshine.
In due course we headed out of the caravan park and back across the Murray River to Mildura, where we stopped for a coffee at Hudak’s Bakery and a spot of shopping before finding our way to the Sturt Highway and on our way to Renmark and beyond.
We really like Mildura and the emphasis on good food and wine, and the weather is usually pretty good as well. Passing through the outskirts of Mildura it just feels great to be surrounded by grape vines, olive trees, stone fruit trees, and more.
Once on the Sturt Highway the weather changed and the wind blew up considerably. Our theory was that by heading North from Nhill to Mildura and then across to South Australia we would miss the most of the storms, and to a point that was right, but we didn’t bank on the cross-winds. It was really heavy going. The further West we got the worse the wind got and the worse driving conditions got. At times we slowed to what seemed like a snail’s pace.
We stopped for lunch beside the lake at the Johansen Memorial Reserve in Cullulleraine (Camps 8 V325) where we found a nice sheltered spot out of the wind. This is also the site of the Millewa Pumping Station and there are some great walks around the lake. There are grassed areas, table and chairs, and signs indicating it was suitable for swimming, although today surfing would have been a better bet.
Returning to the Sturt Highway the wind got worse. There were infrequent respites when there was a bit of vegetation beside the road providing a bit of a wind break. At other times the entire sky was filled with dust and dirt, presumably from farmers cultivating, hoping for rain. Headlights on was definitely the order of the day.
Next stop was at the SA quarantine station near Yamba, where the very friendly fruit fly inspector relieved us of a bag of home gown vegies that we hadn’t been able to eat yet. It just seems a real waste; Mildura has some fantastic fruit and vegies but if you’re heading West there’s no point buying any of it.
Eventually we arrived at Renmark. In our original plan this was to be our lunch stop but the terrible weather conditions put an end to that. After a good drive around town we followed the signs to a caravan park and ended up at the Big 4 Renmark Riverfront Holiday Park. To be honest we have tended to avoid Big 4s as in the past we have had some real problems with access and getting a Big Rig onto some of their sites, but this park is a great surprise. It is huge, it has tremendous facilities, there are some nice looking cabins overlooking the river, the sites are generous, and there are even some concreted double-slab sites (ie room for a van, annex and tow vehicle).
The most amusing thing is that we have arrived in the middle of an Avan convention, which means that we are surrounded by over 230 tiny Avan caravans. We have only spotted 3 other non-Avans!
We have a great site though, absolutely flat, quite protected, and close to all necessary facilities. And it’s not under any trees with potentially falling branches!
Since we arrived here the wind has been increasing and it is now blowing up a gale, as well as raining quite heavily. Our next door neighbour told us that we are expecting 100 kph winds tonight! We have been for a good long walk as the temperature is quite warm and we can tolerate the wind for a limited time. Back in Bertha we are all set-up although we haven’t put the slide-out out, just in case. All around us there are Avanners struggling with flapping awnings and annexes, but at least we feel safe and sound.
We’re not sure what tomorrow will hold, and what we do and where we go will depend on the weather. We’re in a bit of a conflict as we wouldn’t mind spending a day looking around Renmark, which seems to be a really nice town, but on the other hand we would possibly prefer to keep on the move.
The adventure continues ….