Back to Swan Hill

We had a cold night at Mungo with the temperature dropping to around 1C early in the morning. 


Today was a travel day as we began our journey home. Our first stage was to drive back to Mildura down Arumpo Road from Mungo. It actually didn’t seem as rough going back on the other side of the road as it did yesterday to get to Mungo. The worst parts were the small areas where the road crossed a cattle grid. This patches were very corrugated and the 30 metres of bitumen on either side of the grid was often potholed.


We stopped in Mildura long enough to put the car through the car wash and have a coffee. The car looks a lot cleaner but it will still need a good clean after we get home. That fine bull dust gets into everything.

Then main part of our trip today was top follow the Murray River upstream to Swan Hill. Mildura has an elevation of 50 metres above sea level an d Swan Hill is at 71 metres. That means over 240 km of road distance we rose 21 metres in height.

[Don’t read thi paragraph if you are offended by political incorrectness] . Not long after leaving Mildura, we drove through the little town of Gol Gol, the home of the enormous sheep station that I wrote about yesterday. I noticed that the cafe in town was affectionately called ‘Gollys” I couldn’t help but think that its just as well that it wasn’t owned by any of the early Italian settlers who called themselves ‘Wogs’. That would have meant it would have been a Gollywog, but that wouldn’t have been at all politically correct!

Most of our  journey from Mildura to the next major town, Robinvale, was mostly through Mallee Scrub. This vegetation is typical of this dry country and it presented the early settlers with quite a challenge to clear the land for their crops and farming.

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We reached Robinvale after a little over an hour of driving. It is a small service centre on the southern bank of the Murray River which is surrounded on three sides by the meandering river. At this point, The river is only 61 metres above sea level. The primary appeal of the town lies in the river which is popular for swimming, camping, picnics and fishing. The town’s most distinctive feature is its huge median strips in the roadways that are so wide they are actually broader than the roads on either side. For some reason it has a large number of Tongans living in its community.

Coming into Robinvale, we passed an enormous windmill. This huge Southern Cross windmill was erected in 1948 to supply Robinvale with water from the river. At 18.3 metres high and with a wheel that is 9.1 metres in diameter, it is reputedly the largest windmill in the Southern Hemisphere. 

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Amusingly, Robinvale was originally named Bumbang which is the local Aboriginal word for the local island in the Murray River. It was officially named Robinvale in August, 1924 after Lieutenant George Robin Cuttle, a local boy who joined the British (he had been rejected by Australian forces), fought in France and was killed, aged only 22, in the Somme in 1918. The name means “Farewell Robin” – (Vale Robin).

The next stretch of this region  was through enormous stretch of almond orchards. I noticed that one is run b y a Buchanan family. We have friends with the name Buchanan and we thought that they must have gone nuts!

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We continued following the river which meandered significantly but occasionally came in contact with the road.

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About 45 km upstream from Robinvale is the small town of Boundary Bend. It is notable for the glorious 180 degree bend in the river. We stopped here on a previous trip for a picnic lunch but today we would have been extremely annoyed by a large flock of Corellas that were screeching in the nearby trees. I think that they are the only bird that makes Noisy Miners appear to be angelic.

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A gravel road heads off the Murray Valley Highway nearby to the junction of Australia’s two biggest rivers, the Murrumbidgee and the Murray but we didn’t go to see this river junction. After having the car washed, I wanted to avoid more dirt roads. 

Our total drive today wasn’t much more than four hours but we managed to managed to take the whole day to get to Swan Hill. We looked out for the PS Gem at the Pioneer Settlement because of its historical significance.

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The PS Gem is a retired side-wheel paddle steamer that was first launched in 1876. She operated as a cargo and passenger steamer, regularly cruising between Morgan in SA and Mildura. The Gem operated as a tourist passenger vessel during the 1930s and 1940s, and was retired in the early 1950s. In 1962 the Gem was sold to the then Swan Hill Folk Museum, where it would become a static display and historic monument.

Across the river, in Euston, NSW are the gates to the old Murray Downs Station.  It was formerly part of the Murray Downs Station settled in 1839, an area once the largest river frontage property along the banks of the Murray River. There is the original Murray Downs Homestead, built in 1870, is a gracious Victorian mansion that is now a private residence. 

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What remains of this enormous property is situated approximately 30 km north of the town of Euston and now covers an area of over 60,000 hectares. The station is primarily used for grazing sheep and cattle, and also has a small amount of cropping and irrigation. Murray Downs Station has a rich history dating back to the 1850s, and has been owned by a number of different families over the years. Today, it is owned by the Moxey family and is one of the largest properties in the region.

Tomorrow, we are on the second stage of our return home by driving to Benalla vis Echuca and Shepparton.



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