We decided on leaving Swan Hill on Saturday that we would like to see more of the ‘countryside’ on our way into Adelaide. With that, we drove 25km north and hooked a left onto the back road that runs between Nyan West and Ouyen. The countryside consists of thousands of hectares of grain crops and every now and again a small village had been established around a set of huge grain silos.
The first village we came to was Chinkapook located in Victoria and approximately 67 km from Swan Hill. Once a thriving service centre for the local farming community, it is another example of how many rural villages have suffered economically as the country’s road and transport systems have improved. When the roads were dirt, corrugated and uncomfortable to travel on, farmers would shop locally. Once the roads were sealed it was far more exciting to drive a a few extra kilometres to a main centre for a larger variety and cheaper goods. We counted seventeen retail shops in Chinkapook’s main street, twelve of which were vacant.
From Chinkapook we continued along the back road through the villages of Mittyack and Woornack stopping for a quick coffee at Ouyen before carrying on to Pinnaroo for lunch. Pinnaroo is a town in the Murray Mallee region of South Australia and near the border of Victoria. Before becoming an important farming service centre, it was a another railway town established in the early 1900’s.
After lunch we carried on along the Mellee Highway to the next village of Parilla. Parilla is named after an Aboriginal word meaning ‘cold place’and was proclaimed a town in 1907. Like Pinnaroo, it came to life in 1906 with the arrival of the railway. This Mallee area has both traditional and newer crops including potatoes, carrots, onions and olives. On our arrival we discovered the village was going to be a great place to spend the night. There was a well appointed rest area with showers and toilets directly across the road from the hotel and the local store. We parked up, got the chairs out and spent a nice relaxing night at Parilla.
Sunday morning we agreed to continue towards Adelaide but make an overnight stop at Frank Potts Reserve, an area about 2km from Langhorne Creek and approximate 70km from Adelaide. It is a nice shady spot in the heart of a popular wine district and a short walk to the Langhorne Creek General Store and Hotel. It is known as one of the better free camps in South Australia. We arrived at around 2pm in the afternoon and there was already about ten caravan/motorhomes parked up. We managed to find a nice spot under the trees and apart from a few hours of loud thunderstorms and heavy rain during the night, it was an ok place to stay.
With the Christmas and New Year holiday period upon us, we have noticed a significant increase in ‘holiday traffic’ on the road i.e. people towing caravans, camper trailers and boats. A lot of Australians travel interstate for the holiday season so finish work a little earlier that we do in New Zealand. While this is not an issue in itself, the driving skills of some of these people is shocking. In many cases this is the first time they have had the caravan/boat/camper trailer behind their car or 4WD since last Christmas, or they have rented or borrowed a caravan for the holiday period, and it shows. We have had a couple of close calls in the past 72 hours so rather than tempt fate, we have decided to head into Adelaide a couple of days earlier and get off the road until the New Year – as we did last Christmas.
As a consequence of our decision, we will arrive in Adelaide sometime in the next 24 hours and park the motorhome safely until the New Year. There are some great coastal spots in Adelaide itself so we are not too worried where we will go.
This is our last blog update for 2014. There does not seem to be much sense writing updates if we are not moving. We would like to thank you all for following and reading our blog during 2014 and we hope that in some way it may have enticed you to consider exploring more of our exciting world. No matter what you decide to do or where you decide to go, not everyone will understand your journey. That is fine. However, always remember, it is not their journey to make sense of, ‘it is yours’.
Merry Christmas everyone and we wish you and your family a happy festive season and a safe and prosperous New Year.
Will talk again in our next blog update around 2 January 2015.