Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Criss crossing borders

*A happy snap at Port Germein, S.A - longest wooden jetty in Australia.The water was about that deep for 1.5km. This meant of course that it was a 3km return trip for a swim/paddle at low tide - which happened to be most of the day while we were there.

I think it might just be sand fly capital of Australia too as I got savaged by them. Maybe Payniac's not so tasty? I spent a lot of time with liberal applications of calamine lotion(Andy said it looked like a giant bird had pooed all over me) and dosed myself up with polarimine. The itching was like fire (they wee in the bite - gross!!) and now I am sporting what looks like post chicken-pox scarring all limbs! Tried VERY hard not to scratch bites on my face or in my hair. Wasn't until after the fact that one of the locals imparted the secret of listerine! Yep, mouthwash all over your bod will keep the little blighters away as well as mozzies and most other nasties, and by the litre it's heaps cheaper than bushmens.

*Payniac on the jetty - howsabout that beard?
We had a few beers at the local pub and mentioned swimming off the jetty and we got a fairly typical Aussie shark-phobic response.And they've got big ones down here! One of the lads reckoned that his mates dad's brother-in-law was out fishing in his boat just the other day and saw one of the magnificent beasties that was bigger than his boat. Estimate 26 foot.
Allowing for 10% exaggeration at least that's still a 7m fish. That is a big fish and I refuse to believe that a fish the size a VW bug will swim in 30cm water just to bite me so I ignored them and went in anyway.
Port Germein had a funny effect on us - maybe it was all the bites. Walking back from the jetty you have a view of the town (population 270, I made a mistake when first published), all corrugated iron and ye olde Aussie pastoral buildings nestled in among the southern Flinders Ranges. We were both struck by a Tim Wintonesque quality to the place and after about 2 hours of arriving we had booked another night at the very friendly caravan park where we had primo real estate. Thanks Norm. Before all the sandflies I was a bit concerned that our trip had ended.

*'This is dynamite's Mum. One of the many friendly and tirelsessly curious macropods of Mungo NP,NSW.
After our quick sojourn to the sea to satisfy our cravings for the coast we headed across south eastern SA making for the Murray River and the SA-Vic-NSW border. We still had some fresh fruit'n'veg so we decided to stay another night in SA to eat it up before restocking on the next state. We stopped at Murray River NP near Berri (of the juice fame) and had a super bush camp on the river. Picked up some fresh cherries from a roadside market on the way through town and all the assurances that we could take fruit OUT of SA just couldn't bring it in. We were slowly making our way through said cherries as we neared the border and giant quarantine signage and bins etc. We started eating the cherries a bit faster.
Needless to say we couldn't eat them all and gave ourselves pretty sore tummies for the rest of the day. A kg cherries is a lot! The moral - don't believe highway fruit "pushers" when they say you take them anywhere, you can't.
So Dynamite, you ask? Must've been a good season in Mungo NP as lots of the roos had joeys. One in particular was very curious, we later found out they were mostly just thirsty, coming right up to us and our gear, tipping over my first coffee of the day - argghhhh! If we went over to the BBQ block some of them would follow us, hop hop hop, it was like having pet ones. When I got up and climbed down the ladder from bed one morning they just hopped straight over to see what was up. As they were acting like pets I named the favourite one Dynamite. I didn't feed them cos you're not supposed to but I'm as guilty as all the other people in that campground over those few days of giving them a drink. I justified this as some of our water has taken on a funny a bushfire.

*VJ with life size model of extinct Zygomaturus, giant wombat animal from 30,000 years ago.

Mungo NP had a great info centre as a very important region for archealogical reasons. The Walls of China also an incredible land form, basically the shore line of an extinct lake. Most of the interesting stuff at Mungo is extinct and very significant in the history of Aboriginal people. One non-extinct first for me was the Blue Bonnet, a pretty parrot quite common in the arid parts of Australia but I'd never seen one.

We stayed 2 nights at Mungo NP before making our way to Balranald desperate to beat the rain and for fuel. The fuel light came on about 10km shy of town. It's always a relief to pull up at the bowser when that light's on. How did this oversight happen? I guess we'd become a little complacent after being out in the bush where we really had to plan our fuel fills compared to the relatively built up areas with towns (petrol stations at least) every 50-100km (rather than the 400km+ we had got used to). And so we just drove on out of Mildura without filling up. The rain is lovely and smells incredible on that red dirt but packing up in the rain is not much fun at 6am and there's always the chance that the way you're going has had more rain and you just might get bogged. Being on the road early in the morning also means you're going to run into "traffic". Kangaroos everywhere, statistically it's got to happen and I just don't know how I'll cope when one of us hits one.

Luckily we left the rain behind as we headed southeast and made it Swan Hill y'day arvo with a few hours to spare (managed to get a load of washing dry). Had a meal at Swan Hill RSL and a few beers before retiring. The rain came down in earnest over night and I'm thinking our plans to do some 4WDing in Vic High Country might be thwarted. Snow forecast for the weekend, brrrr!

*A fiery sunset at Mungo NP

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