Day 29 - Mungo NP to the Great Darling Anabranch
Trip Start Apr 17, 2012
37Trip End May 27, 2012
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Lake Mungo, Walls of China, Great Darling Anabranch
From the lookout it was a short drive back down to the woolshed which is adjacent to the visitor's centre
The only remaining thing to do was the 70km Mungo Track which is recommended to be done in two halves - stopping to camp at the other end at Belah Camp for the night. As this would have taken an extra day and night, we wrote it off as leaving something for next time and vowed to return soon. Our next destination was to be Menindee via the Pooncarie-Wentworth Road but the Pooncarie-Wentworth Road which was still closed due to flooding of the Darling River
Again, the drive out was just as amazing as the drive in. The road conditions were fine for us in the camper. We never lost traction and the soft, long-travel suspension made it quite comfortable until we hit corrugations, sometimes the frequency just didn't sit right with the wheelbase so speed would need to be reduced. Once we were about halfway back to Mildura some other roads joined up with Arumpo and we must have caught the farm-worker's peak hour because we must have seen 7 or 8 different utes (all separate) coming from side-roads and cattle stations - some with P plates, nearly all drivers wore hats and were drinking beer at the wheel. They must've been in a hurry to meet their mates at the pub because they were doing crazy speeds and were on the verge of losing control in the sandy bits and oncorrugations. One guy overtook us on a bend in a beat-up old ute and the back end was dancing around like Fred Astaire. I was sure I'd see him wrapped around a tree futher down the road
Aware of this, I had to modify my driving habits somewhat. As safety is our first priority given the amount of kilometres we cover per year, I try to assume that every oncoming car is going to lose control - and anticipate/preempt my evasive options.
Soon enough we were at Buronga, we bypassed Mildura by heading straight to Wentworth on the Silver City Hwy. At Wentworth we had a moment, it was time to officially say goodbye to the Murray River which we had followed from the river mouth at Goolwa. It was now time to follow the Darling River - even more exciting than the Murray in many ways. Wentworth also allowed us to refill our gas bottle so we could cook again. By now it was probably 4pm and we only had 90 mins or so of light left so we hit the road and headed NNW towards Broken Hill. In our efforts to not hit any birds (or any other animals for that matter) we drove at 80km/h in a 100km/h zone. It's so much more relaxing to not have to worry about maintaining a high speed. It also allows you to enjoy the scenery and sunsets
What's an anabranch you say?
Well, the Great Darling Anabranch is actually the ancient route of the Darling River. Back in the days when Lake Mungo and the entire Willandra Lakes system was watered, they actually drained into the Darling River. A massive flood event several thousand years ago changed the course of the river to how it is today but whenever the river floods, water still flows down the anabranch and fills the ephemeral lakes along it. Much of this area hasn't seen water in the lakes for a decade or so.
The GPS showed a few localities where we thought we might find a campground or caravan park but they were just localities and nothing more. We had heard about Coombah and the Coombah Roadhouse as places to get fuel but didn't know if there were any accommodation offerings.
I then did the obligatory antenna routine, I knew internet would be fine as I had a signal on my phone. In most cases my modem with external antenna can get the full 5 bars of signal when my phone only has one bar. I suspected that TV wouldn't work, but still gave it a shot - sure enough there were no TV stations. With the internet at full strength we were able to stream music and news and whatever else we needed to feel entertained. We cooked up a feast and had a few hours of relaxation and laughter watching our Dax Shepard movie again (lol), it was becoming a campervan cult classic. Next thing we knew we could hardly keep our eyes open. It was time to go to bed for the night. A little bit of time was spent pondering our location and path to follow, but soon we were spitting out the zzzzzzs.