MILDURA – wow, what a petrol-head city! Lots of families having lots of fun over Easter and the school holidays taking in the Uteznvanz national meeting (serious chrome and art work), the ‘Mildura 100’ billed as the fastest water ski race in the world, drag racing, and by the number of motor bikes in town it’s likely they had something on as well!
The Mildura Weir and Lock 11 have been regulating the Murray River’s water supply since 1927. The lock and weir are separated by an island, where lots of people were picnicing, boat-watching, fishing and just enjoying this lovely bushland.
Our trip on the lovely paddle steamer ‘Melbourne’ (built 1910) took us through the lock both coming and going. We also moved interstate as the weir straddles both Victoria and New South Wales! The operation and smells from the steam engine reminded us of a previous trip on the ‘Earnslaw’ in Queenstown NZ – very happy memories.
Rio Vista House is adjacent to the art gallery, and has been maintained as a beautifully built Queen Anne home built in 1892. We loved the stained glass windows featuring local birds and flowers.
Originally it was owned by the Chaffey family. These two brothers were persuaded by the government of the day to migrate from Canada to help develop an irrigation system for the region. Unfortunately things didn’t go so well and they ended up penniless. but you wouldn’t know that today as the region is just one big vineyard… or farm…or orchard. Grapes, almonds, olives, lemons were abundant, and we also enjoyed the exquisite dried fruits from Angas Park at Irymple.
Big Lizzie is located in a park in the town of Red Cliffs, 15 kms south of Mildura..
The Big Lizzie story is something else… in 1920 she commenced clearing scrub for the proposed 6,000 ha irrigation area of Red Cliffs and to provide 700 Soldier Settlement blocks for veterans of World War 1. For the time it was an amazing feat of mechanical work; she was built to be able to negotiate deep sand country with her patented modified wheels while carting a reasonable load – 80 tons of goods on two trailers and with some of the load on the tractor itself. She could move at 2mph, but suffered wheel damage so was kept down to 1 mph! More about this amazing machine can be found from the Red Cliffs & District Historical Society or on You Tube
After following the Murray River so far, we finally saw the ‘confluence’ with the Darling River occur out at the town of Wentworth. This area was a resettlement area for World War 2 soldiers and their families, so they were only just getting their farms started when the 1956 flood hit. The local museum’s presentation showed the many tragedies, along with the heroes (Massey Ferguson tractors) and losers (so many families lost). A stark reminder to us about how natural disasters shape people and their landscape forever, especially thinking about our much loved Christchurch – see our previous blog at Nomad171.com
Next stop – New South Wales!