When we drove to Mildura from Turlee Station we experienced bittersweet emotions. While we were looking forward to exploring Mildura we were also keenly aware that our outback New South Wales journey was almost at its end.
Mildura was also a place that my husband and I were re-visiting after our previous trip there in 2003, eight years ago. When we previously visited Mildura we were living in Melbourne, and had travelled to Echuca and Mildura in convoy with friends from the USA. We split up after a lovely time in Mildura with the main highlight being dinner in the amazing Stefano’s Restaurant.
While we returned directly to Melbourne our friends travelled to Mungo National Park, White Cliffs and Broken Hill in the space of only three days before returning to Melbourne. They returned with stories of their expedition which intrigued us as we had not previously been aware of the travel options of outback New South Wales. Their trip inspired us to put outback New South Wales on our travel horizon, but it took eight years to come to fruition.
A surprising hit with the children was Orangeworld, where you can go on a tractor tour through the orange orchards. While a bit cliché, we all enjoyed the relaxing tour and learnt about orange production along the way. We squeezed in enjoyable visits to two gourmet producers, the Varapodio Estate olive grove and Trentham Estate winery. Trentham Estate is situated beside the Murray River, and provides a lovely view over the river and surrounding landscape. Many of the local producers on the Murray River have docks so river craft can visit. Hiring a houseboat is a great option for many visitors.
After lunch we went for a cruise on the Paddle Steamer Melbourne along the Murray River. The children were fascinated by watching the steam engine. While they had seen many old fashioned steam engines in our travels they had not seen one in operation before. The sight of how the pistons and crankshafts worked together kept them intrigued for an extended period.
The views along the river were of verdant greenery. The Murray River has a series of weirs and locks to conserve the water as it travels the long distance from the Snowy Alps to South Australia. It was interesting to watch the operation of the lock and appreciate that they do not need any pumps to operate the clever system to raise and lower boats to the different water levels.
After an enjoyable time exploring the Mildura region it was finally time to commence the 1013km (630 mile) long drive back to our home in Sydney. We completed the drive over two days, staying overnight in Gundagai. We found the trip across the Hay Plains to be a more tedious drive but I also think we were ready to return home.
When we arrived at home the odometer advised that in total we had travelled 3427 km (2130 miles) in twelve days!