Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Sydney to Adelaide - Meandering along the Murray.

One thousand, three hundred and seventy-six kilometres - according to Google Maps that's how far it is from Sydney to Adelaide. It feels like more. If you allow for the odd wrong turn, occasional side trip and following the scenic route, it is more - but even in a straight unwavering line it is a long way.  If Australians have a national obsession, it has to be travel. At any given moment half the country is out roaming the world in a vast international diaspora. D and I try to do our bit - but when we get tired, as we occasionally do, of travelling the world we come home and travel Australia instead.


It took us two full days to drive to Adelaide. Google says it can be done in 14 hours and 11 minutes. We took the scenic route. It may have added a couple of hours to the trip but rather than the unrelenting nothingness of the Hay Plain we travelled through the lush green countryside of the Murray River.  With once in a half-century bushfires raging out of control on the outskirts of Sydney it seems bizarre that so much of the state should be so green. Even the normally parched, brown terrain between Sydney and Yass looked rich, fertile and bucolic.

The Murray River


We made overnight stops in Albury and Mildura and followed the occasional side road to investigate anything which seemed remotely interesting. Hundreds of kilometres from the nearest ocean we took a short detour to Holbrook to see the town's submarine. It sits in a park on the main street where generations of children have stopped to play, blissfully unaware that an inland town is a very odd place to keep a sub.

The Holbrook submarine


Next we decided to investigate the 'Big Orange'.  In the past we have visited the Big Banana, the Big Pineapple and the Big Sheep. I even vaguely remember once seeing the Big Prawn somewhere -  but neither of us had heard of the Big Orange until a twitter friend mentioned it an hour or so out of Berri. It seems we are not alone - we found the Orange in a sad state of disrepair - closed to the public, standing alone in a paddock - slowly being re-possessed by nature. Perhaps the citrus farmers of the district should take pity on it and put it out of it's misery.

The Big Orange


Many of the towns along the Murray are charming and picturesque with towering red gums lining the river banks and rows of houseboats waiting for the seasonal influx of holidaying families. Koondrook is the pick of the bunch though. With a population of just over a thousand people it is an old logging town and boasts one of the oldest surviving Murray River bridges. David got his history-fix and I got to enjoy the ambiance of a place which has quietly side-stepped the modern world.


The Koondrook Barham Bridge


The tram station at Koondrook

Koondrook - CBD


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