29 Dec

Day 2 : Christmas Road Trip : Narrandera to Mildura

First things first, if you want to read about day 1 you can do so here.  Day 2… otherwise known as the most ridiculous way to travel to Adelaide ever!  Today was across the infamous Hay Plains … miles and miles of straight, flat road with nothing but salt bushes and emus to look at. 

Hmm, I shouldn’t be so dismissive, emus are kind of cool – they actually freak me out a little – they way they are able to stare at me with one eye from the side of their head … it’s hard to explain, maybe a picture will help.  Picture is courtesy of Wikimedia.org

Amusingly they blend in to the landscape somewhat until you really notice them, then you realise they’re absolutely everywhere! At 130km/hr it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between an emu and a salt bush with a star picket poking up!! The emus relieved the boredom of this leg somewhat.  

This was a really tough day, I don’t think it was so much distance as it was the monotony of the journey.  Very few towns or points of interest – the nothingness in itself was quite enchanting to a certain degree but it made for uninteresting riding.

The other component that added to the monotony for me was a distinct lack of traffic.  Three days before Christmas and there was very little tourist traffic.  Of course there were plenty of trucks – our trucks keep the country going and they drive across this great country of our relentlessly.  Whilst on the topic of truckies, I must say they were amazing.  They did a terrific job of indicating to us when it was safe to overtake etc.

Traffic adds an element of interest to riding, as it does with driving – overtaking opportunities, it keeps you alert – every other driver is an idiot right? Well not really but it can feel that way sometimes.  To be fair we have come across very few drivers / riders that have been behaving erratically this trip – maybe we need to wait until after New Year to really see them come into their own 😛

So let’s talk about the actual journey.  We started out from Narrandera, fuelled up at the Caltex across the road, grabbed our letter N for the ABC of Touring and began our journey.  In order to keep the monotony to a minimum I decided it was best to travel a little further and have more towns to pass through.  So for this reason we headed north to Leeton.   What a lovely little town.  I think my Dad’s wife great up in Leeton so have likely been here before when we visited her mother when I was a child, however I would have certainly been too young to appreciate the charm of this town.  We didn’t stop for long, a brief stop to take a picture of the lovely visitor centre and then on to Griffith.

Griffith was only another 45 minutes up the road.  The town was a lot larger than I was expecting and the parks were quite lovely.  If I knew it was to be the last piece of green I was going to see until Mildura I would have stopped to enjoy the serenity… but alas we did not.  Once outside of Griffith we began to see the real start of the Hay Plain.  Although the overall palette was the gold hues of straw, the sides of the road were quite damp – there had clearly be a decent amount of rain lately … so why did everything still look so dry?

We stopped for a quick potty break on the other side of Griffith and took a moment to marvel at the landscape.

After our break it’s back on and we try to push through to Hay.  Even though there is nothing for miles and you can see if there’s a car (read potential cop) in the distance, speeding up is not advantageous.  Travelling at 130 without a screen or fender really beats you up, add to that the temperature is bordering 40ºC.  The wind in your face is not even cool ?

We push through and finally make it to Hay… well, blink and you miss it!  We grab some fuel and continue on – planning to Stop in Balranald for some lunch – should be a good pie shop as with most country towns.  Not only did we find a pie shop in the form of Balranald Bakery, we found this … 

Noting my recent uptake of the art of crochet I was most intrigued by this bizarre sight in the middle of the country.  Sadly we were a bit late to get in on some pie action so resorted to an apple slice for me and custard tart for Steve… a cool drink and a sit down in the shade.  A nice little town for a breather.  

As easy as it would have been to stop for a long time what we really wanted was to end this seemingly endless trip across the Hay Plain.  Back on the bikes and push on to Mildura.  The closer we get to Mildura the greener the landscape starts to become.  The previously bland landscape is starting to get pitted with small orchards, growing steadily larger as we inch towards the town proper.

Well we finally made it, and we were exhausted!  Distance-wise we covered about 550km – not that far when driving, but we were feeling rather battered and bruised.  I think getting run over by a bus may have been more pleasant!  

We checked in to the Mildura Motel.The motel room seemed quite nice on the surface, and a recently renovated bathroom.  Sadly the bathroom came with some added extras that I would rather do without!  

My old mate TripAdvisor has been getting a workout on the trip.  I have endeavoured to leave a review, good or bad, for every place we’ve stopped at.  It has been incredibly useful in planning our trip and I hope that I can help other travellers by passing on my frank and honest review of each place.  You can check out our profile and reviews on TripAdvisor.

Tomorrow we do the final leg of the first part of our journey.  Finishing in Lyndoch where we will spend a few days over Christmas with some of my family – can’t wait!

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Day 2 : Narrandera to Mildura

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| | km | | /km | +m -m (net: m) | download GPX file download GPX file
Leeton: -34.551393, 146.406652
Narrandera: -34.747901, 146.550364
Hay: -34.509313, 144.843566
Balranald: -34.638760, 143.562410
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Narrandera

Narrandera

Narrandera, New South Wales, Australia
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Leeton

Leeton Visitor Centre

Leeton, New South Wales, Australia
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Hay

Welcome to Hay!

Hay, New South Wales, Australia
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Balranald

Balranald Bakery

Balranald Bakery, Market Street, Balranald, New South Wales, Australia
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