Broken Hill to Mildura

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’d never tried astrophotography before but, since the Starview Campsite is named after the ability to gaze at an incredible night sky in close to complete darkness, I thought I should try. I was intrigued to see the Orion constellation looking a bit weird, to my eyes. Here he is but his sword is pointing upwards – he’s upside down compared to our northern hemisphere orientation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you have never been to the southern hemisphere then you really haven’t experienced the Milky Way in all its glory. Regardless of the time of year, the Milky Way is much stronger in the southern hemisphere. This seemed weird to me when I was in New Zealand in 2017. It made me start thinking – why? It’s nothing to do with seasons and the earth spinning ‘cos it’s always  in the southern hemisphere. Since our solar system is “far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the galaxy” [credit to Douglas Adams], the Milky Way galaxy, the only explanation is that the southern hemisphere is constantly looking into the more densely starred centre of the galaxy and the northern hemisphere is always looking out at the skinnier, more sparsely starred edge of the galaxy. How can this be? It means that the rotation of our Solar System is oriented more or less vertically compared to the horizontal disk of the galaxy itself. How did that happen? I checked my conclusion which is apparently correct, weird though it may seem. Orion, which nuzzles the Milky Way, is still here in this image but I’ve brought out more of the fainter stars, though I confess to not knowing what I’m doing.

Emu at StarviewOur last early morning was brightened by an emu, real as opposed to a cartoon one, wandering into the campsite for a drink at one of the water pipes. It cooperated enough to allow me to get a decent picture.

After the Emu, today was going to be a trip of 300kms from Broken Hill to Mildura. I’d dropped only one notch on the fuel gauge with local travel yesterday but with a cheap station on the road, I filled up. For some reason my JL credit card threw a wobbly and refused to work. I hope that’s a glitch.

Road to MilduraWe were basically on one sparsely vegetated road for 265kms before a left hand turn.The landscape was classic, bland, outback Australian emptiness which I love. This is why I enjoy watching Australian movies. I was tempted to call it desolate but that’s not right, it’s just flat, bland and empty. You do not suffer from any neighbour noise out here. We saw the occasional feral goat again and twice I had to veer to the opposite side of the road to avoid an ex-kangaroo. Happily we came across an opposing vehicle only every 10 kms or so. We past a few groups of happily alive emus, too.

The first sensible stopping point en route was Wentworth, only 60kms before Mildura. There was a  place called Coombah that turned out not to be sensible, at about 195kms. It was only an apparent roadhouse, apparent because it looked for all the world to be closed, though there was one of Australia’s long Road Trains parked. We pulled in – there were two fuel pumps which may or may not have worked – but Francine chose to use the on-board facilities before we continued, rather than going and rattling the doors.

We more amusement as we drove past a rest stop wittily called the Seven Trees Rest Area. As we sailed past we counted … yes, you guessed it, just three trees. This had clearly been named by the same person who named the Twelve Apostles off the coast of the Great Ocean Road, there being just seven left standing when we visited in 2001 (?). I think there may now be only six.

Ruby PaddlesteamerWe stopped at Wentworth for lunch. It stands on the confluence of the Murray and Darling rivers and had apparently been a major trading port in its heyday. Then along came the young upstart of Mildura with a railroad which did for Wentworth. There was a neat old paddle steamer moored beside our car park. We moved on for the final 60kms.

In Mildura Francine had booked a “prime” river view pitch beside the Mighty Murray. However, this pitch was in blazing sun at 36°C with absolutely no shade. Since Busby II has no awning, we could not generate our own shade. Added to this there was a fence and a road between us and the Mighty Murray, so a “river view” seemed a bit of a stretch and a tad pointless. We asked to move to a “cheaper” (A$3, big deal) pitch with some tree shade and sod any refund, we just wanted some shade. All good, except that these facilities are very tired and it’s certainly the poorest campsite so far. Thankfully, it’s just for one night. Oh, and there’s no bloody Wi-fi either; it was wiped out by the 2022 floods and has not yet been reinstated.

Given these driving distances, if you want to play tourist at any of the stops, you really need to stop for 2-nights. We’re glad we did that at Broken Hill but it looks a bit pointless here. We do get two nights at the next stop of Echuca, though.

Posted in 2024-01 Australia