Our departure from Adelaide at 9am on Sunday was in the heat of another 42C day. While the nights are still quite cool by comparison, mid morning temperatures are around 36C and by midday temperatures are at their peak.
With our planned drive to Echuca around 800km, we made the decision to drive a long day to try and avoid the outside temperatures and the fires that were threatening many parts of South Australia and especially the Adelaide area. Another reason for our decision was that we had travelled the Mallee Highway (the shortest route to Echuca from Adelaide) previously so there was no real reason for us to stop off anywhere except for meals and driving breaks. 550km later and at 6pm, we arrived at Nyah Reserve on the Murray River and our home for the night. We had stayed there previously so knew exactly where to park up for a quiet night.
As we were not meeting Chuck and Ali (Rod’s brother and his wife) until Tuesday in Echuca, we decided that our next overnight stop would be Leitchville, about 60km northwest of Echuca. Leitchville, with a population of approximately 250, is recognised as an RV Friendly town and is primarily an intensive dairy and irrigation farming community. The town has developed a free parking area for RV’ers directly beside the local swimming pool and with toilets and showers. We had only been parked up for about 10 minutes before we started getting visits from locals. They were very keen to let us know the places of interest in the area plus offer their assistance if we found we needed any support. On Tuesday morning one of the locals, Wally, rocked up at the motorhome with a custard square from the local bakery for our morning tea. Many thanks Wally and Co for your wonderful hospitality.
On Tuesday morning we made the last leg of this part of our journey into Echuca. The town is not new to us as we had visited here before some four years ago when a group of us hired a houseboat for a weeks self drive cruise on the Murray River. But that’s another story !! Echuca, an Aboriginal name meaning “Meeting of the Waters” is indicative of the role rivers have played in the town’s existence. Echuca is situated close to the junction of the Goulburn, Campaspe and Murray Rivers. Its location at the closest point of the Murray to Melbourne contributed to its development as a thriving river port city during the 19th century.
We met up with Chuck and Ali around midday (just in time for lunch) and during lunch we decided to make our home for the next two nights about 10km out of Echuca amongst the gum trees and beside the river at a free spot called Murray Bend. While the spot itself was ok – directly beside the river and albeit a bit of a climb to get down and back up from the river – we had to put up with a fair bit of dust from passing traffic and the constant drone of V8 speedboats and jet ski’s racing up and down the river. Still, it is the holiday period so it is what it is.
We had a look at the long term weather forecast this morning and while the temperatures are set to stay in the high 20’s to mid 30’s, there are four days of rain forecast from Friday so we need to find a parkup that is not going to turn to mud during the rain. Getting trapped is not in our travel plans. After a bit of research we have found a free campground in the Barmah State Park on Barmah Lake that we hope will do the trick. We will depart Murray Bend tomorrow morning, drive back into Echuca to top up our fresh water tank and get a few supplies then make our way to the Barmah State Park. The park has received great reviews so we are looking forward to our stay.
Footnote: It was great catching up with Chuck and Ali yesterday and we are all looking forward to travelling together over the next couple of weeks. 5 o’clockers seem to have started a bit earlier over the past two of evenings!! I wonder why?