Day 3 – Wednesday September 5 - 204km - Underbool to Wycheproof
 Wednesday, involved going first of all to Walpeup, and then turning south to Patchewollock. This "cuts off the corner" instead of going across to Ouyen before heading south.


This photo's odd perspective is because I had to climb a sand dune to get mobile reception. I'd decided I had the legs to reach Wycheproof, and wanted to make sure I could book a motel. Arriving in a strange town late at night without accommodation is always a stressful event, and best avoided.  You can see here the "dog-leg" method a Journey Trailer uses for parking. I've never really liked it; the thing still tips over occasionally, and it always seems to me to put undue stress on the frame as I straighten up to vertical. 

I had a weird experience at Patchewollock: having entered the dark of the public toilets in my heavy sun glasses, I began to keel over. In a second or so, a lot passes through your mind: Am I fainting? Is this a stroke? Is today the day I die?  Regaining my balance, I discovered that the basic problem was that the toilet bowl was no longer bolted to the floor!

The water at Patchewollock is not potable, and the store hours are limited. So if you need water, it's ask at a house, or make sure you are carrying enough to go further.

03-walpeupThe road south of Walpeup.

I'd had the beginnings of a tail wind from Walpeup, but now had to chop across that wind to get to Speed, where I then turned south again, and worked my way down Wycheproof, where I had a motel room booked. Speed is on the Sunraysia Highway, which despite being one of the main highways south from Mildura is always a good road for traffic. Water is still a problem, (2016) and you need to buy it until you get to Birchip.

Birchip always amuses me: the Mallee Bull reminds me of the colleague who announced to Synod many years ago that he was as heterosexual as a mallee bull.  

03-malleebullOne of Australia's smaller "big things." The sign warns you not to climb on the Mallee Bull.

03-hayartThere's a competition in the Woomelang area for the best hay bale construction! You can vote.



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Day Four – Thursday September 6 - 162km - Wycheproof to Echuca
First stop after Wycheproof was Boort.  The sun was so hot at Boort that I put on a neck shade, but the trip on from Boort to Echucha soon had me constantly watching for the rain showers wandering around the landscape.

I escaped any major showers, only catching on the edges of a couple of them-- that spitty stuff where you dry out after a few minutes-- but finally one opened without warning directly above me. This thunder squall went from a few drops to a howling gale in the space of about a minute. It was the kind of wind that comes head-on and brings you almost to a halt, and then whips to the side in the space of a second, and blows you most of the way across the road. A police car slowly pulled out past me at this time. I presume looked at me and decided I was ok, for he kept on feeling his way up the road through the storm. Or else he simply wanted to stay dry!

In the thunder I wondered if Wendy was going to lose me to a lightning strike instead of a semi trailer! 10 minutes later everything was calm and sunny again.

04-channel  Not the open un-fenced channels kids used to swim in!  But look at the plastic! No wonder we drown in the stuff. Today's agriculture uses, and then dumps, huge amounts of plastic.

I managed to ride myself dry in the next hour or so, and when it looked like another major squall was coming my way, refuge in a school bus shelter on a crossroads. It's the first time I've been in a school bus shelter for 45 years. A local farmer off on some errand stopped for chat. He said "I'd like to tell you I thought it was going to rain another inch on you, but I think we've had all we're going to get." As it turned out, there were a couple of 5 km stretches between there and Echuca, where there had clearly been very heavy rain, but fortunately I haven't been there when it happened.

04-thestormthatmissed This storm missed.


The colour of storms

At Mitiamo I received a phone call from someone who had let themselves into the church at home, and forgotten the alarm. I had a little amusement considering what she would have done if in the spotty mobile reception in that area had been dead; not that I would give away the name of anyone from Mediacom.

I set up the tent in the dark at Echuca. I would never camp underneath a gumtree if I had the choice, but that's what they gave me.  It rained a couple of times in the night and I still have a wet tent to deal with, which I'll probably manage by sleeping in it on Monday night.


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Next: Echuca to Bright

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