Ronda F

Joined July 2016
  • Day3

    Mildura - Part 2

    July 6, 2016 in Australia

    Day 3 - Exploring Mildura

    I'd pencilled in today as being the day to head out to Mungo National Park, but the park was closed due to rain so I needed to fill it with other adventures.

    Started off with brekky at Zambelli's Kitchen in the Langtree mall. Yummy food and the coffee was spot on.

    Then I headed down to embark on the obligatory Murray River paddlesteamer cruise on the PS Melbourne. It's $30, and you do a two hour tour down the Murray, through Lock 11 (which is a locked chamber that drops the boat 3m from the canal into the river - really nifty mechanism to watch/learn about). It's a nice way to spend a couple of hours and learn about the history and some geographical info about the river. I realised that I need to do some serious reading on the Murray-Darling river system, as I don't know as much as I should about it, and how we're treating (or mistreating) it.

    After that, I headed out to Orange World, which is a short trip out of town along the Silver City highway. I'm a big fan of farmgate-type stuff, and this place had a tour on a little tractor-train, so I was sold! The property owner, Mario, filled the hour-long trip with interesting info, anecdotes and dad jokes, and we got to see a range of citrus plants and avos at various stages of production. At $12.50, it's a cheap way to get a bit of knowledge about the stuff the region is famous for. Also tried my first tangelo here (sad, but true) and it was delicious! The shop is small, but I still recommend a visit to this place.

    After that, I headed out to Woodsie's Gem Shop, across the other side of town. I was a bit dubious about what it would be like, but walked away in awe. This family started out with gems and rocks as a hobby, and over the years have built an amazing venue that includes "Aladdin's Cave" (which houses their personal collections of gems, rocks, stones and fossils from around the world), a cafe and a shop. There's also a maze which has good reviews online, but I didn't get to explore that.

    The thing I love most about this place is how they've turned a passion into a living. The staff were absolutely lovely, and you could tell they love what they do for a living. I was inspired!

    Finally, I grabbed dinner at Thai-riffic, which I expected to be standard Thai fare, but it was delicious! No wonder they've got the #1 spot on Trip Advisor for restaurants in Mildura.

    I head off to Broken Hill via Wentworth tomorrow, but I've really loved Mildura. I could easily spend a longer stretch of time here - in fact, I think I'd be quite happy to live here!
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  • Day2

    Mildura - Part 1

    July 5, 2016 in Australia

    End of Day 1 - Mildura
    Roadkill winner for the day: Kangaroos
    No wombats today - 5 banged up kangas.

    Got to Mildura and went to the info centre to book a Mungo National Park tour, only to be told that the park would be closed on Wednesday due to the rain. Bugger! I was looking forward to it. I'll have to see if I can fit one in on the way back. I grabbed a bunch of brochures to see what's worth checking out while I'm in town.

    Checked in to the Seven Pines Motor Inn which is clean and well located. Just a bit tight on the parking and the rooms could do with a bit of soundproofing.

    The main drag is within an easy walk, so I traipsed down to "Feast Street" to scope out dinner options. The street was light on people, being a Tuesday night, but the street itself was gorgeous at night. I ended up walking down to the Black Stump Burger Bar which was pretty quiet (only one group of people). The staff were friendly, the food ok but not spectacular.
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  • Day2

    Balranald

    July 5, 2016 in Australia

    First up, I need to say something about the Hay plain. I've never driven it before, and my pre-reading and pre-chats with others made me think it'd be a challenge. But OH. MY. GOD. This will sound weird, but it was almost a spiritual experience for me.

    The vastness of land and sky was truly awesome. As the weather was pretty dismal today, the clouds alternated between dark and angry, with splashes of chrome when the sun peeked out. It felt like I could see clouds in 3D (that sounds weird, but like, you could see multiple layers...and just so many). My favourite bit was the stretch where there were no trees, no buildings, and straight road. On one side of the road there were white, voluminous clouds outlined in grey and silver, and on the other side there were thick grey clouds with rain falling on the horizon. Words and photographs cannot begin to express the vastness and flatness of this place.

    Anyway, once I got past the plain, I headed into Balranald. +10 for toilet cleanliness at the information centre. The info centre was also nicely decked out. Not much to the town, but a good stopping point for a coffee and a wee.

    As with each town, I did a main street run to check the place out. I followed a sign that said "Riverbend" and lo and behold I ended up at a gorgeous spot on the Murrumbidgee. I stood on the bank for a bit and imagined the swaggies who'd camped alongside her a hundred years ago.

    Anyway, on to Mildura.
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  • Day2

    Hay

    July 5, 2016 in Australia

    I expected Hay to be a bit bigger than what it was.

    While I was here, I popped into the Dunera museum, which is located in an old train carriage. There's not much to it - really just some photocopied info sheets on the walls, a few interesting photos and an audio narrative on repeat - but it was interesting nonetheless. A good spot to stretch your legs and feed your brain (it's a $4 entry fee - they use an honesty system). Anyway, the museum is all about the internment and POW camps that were located in Hay during WW2. You can read much of the history online, and they don't have many artefacts in the museum, but still - worth a visit to support them. Perhaps their collection will expand over time.

    The info centre lady suggested that I head over to Shear Outback for lunch. I didn't really have time to do the tour (and at $20 a pop..hmm). I really just needed a quick bite before hitting the road for the long slog to Mildura - instead I got a loooooong wait and a burnt roll and a smidge of salad. On the bright side, the lamb and gravy inside was delicious.
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  • Day2

    Narrandera

    July 5, 2016 in Australia

    Popped in here for brekkie. Not much happening here, but a cute little town. The information centre lady was really friendly and helpful. As an added bonus, the info centre has a "big thing" - what was formerly the "World's Biggest Playable Guitar". Some guys in the US made a bigger one, so they can't claim the record now, but it's still pretty cool. :)

    Great coffee and toastie at Cafe Shazaray. Delish.Read more

  • Day1

    Wagga Wagga

    July 4, 2016 in Australia

    So it's the end of Day 1 and I'm snuggled up in Wagga Wagga.

    Roadkill winner for the day: Wombats.
    Saw about 5 poor little buggers. They claimed the day's crown over a fox, a couple of possums and some other thing that was too mangled to know what it was.

    Last time I was in Wagga was for Uni Games back in....well, ages ago. The only memory I have is my mates and I fanging around the streets in a rogue trolley and being given a "complementary lift" back to the caravan park in the back of a paddy wagon, which was a fun first. I'm guessing this trip will be slightly less eventful.

    Got in at dusk, and will be out again early in the morning - not much time to explore here today. I'll pick up a few brochures at the Information Centre tomorrow and plan a bit more Wagga Wagga exploration when I stop in on the way back.

    Monday nights in Wagga are pretty dire - not too many places open for a feed (perhaps I'm just city-spoilt) but it was a cool feeling to drive through the main street and for the most part, seeing barely a soul.

    Looking forward to checking out some of the old buildings here in the daylight - looks like there's some gorgeous old architecture around the place.
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  • Day1

    Gundagai

    July 4, 2016 in Australia

    Zipped out of Goulburn and headed along the road to Gundagai.

    I'd seen the Dog on the Tuckerbox before (for some reason, I thought it was going to be something a little more substantial than what it is) but spent a bit of time poking around some of the other historical artefacts there, which include remnants from an old inn and a bit of history about Gundagai's role in the early pioneer days.

    The best find here, however, was an awesome healthy "fast food" place called Olivers. They have a little fresh food market attached, but you can also order really great, healthy take away foods. I grabbed some of these crunchy, steamed, salted beans (their take on fries). They were delicious to snack on, and they don't give you the blerghy feeling you get if you do the roadtrip Maccas/KFC stop. This was a great little find - I'll be pencilling it in as a definite lunch stop on the way back.
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  • Day1

    Goulburn

    July 4, 2016 in Australia

    Headed to Goulburn first. Did the obligatory service centre stop at Marulan because I can't pass this place without stopping for a roast beef and gravy roll. Give it a go if you're driving by!

    Once I got to Goulburn I decided on a whim to scoot up to the War Memorial. It's that tall tower thing plonked on the hilltop that you see when you first drive in to Goulburn. When driving through Goulburn in the past, I never really bothered to work out what it was - for some reason I thought it was an old lookout for escaped prisoners or something (ha!). But anyway, went up there and got a nice view of Goulburn, but as I was alone and there was nobody around, it felt a bit creepy so I didn't stay too long.

    Zipped into Goulburn town itself and engaged in another tradition - a quick shop at Dimmey's. If you've never bothered to have a poke around, I highly recommend it! I picked up a pair of grey cords for $2.99! I love the random stuff they have there, and now make it a regular stop off whenever I pass through.

    I also did the obligatory drive-by of the Big Merino. I'd only ever driven past before - I'd never driven in to have a look around. I was quite surprised at the er, *detail* that they included at the rear of the sheep. :P
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