Sunday, September 14, 2014

Riverlands 2014, Part Two: Murray Bridge to Blanchetown

This is where we're headed, as we leave Murray Bridge after lunch on the riverboat Captain Proud; but --
It'll be a long drive as the afternoon shadows begin to lengthen over the roar to Mannum.
Mannum itself -- across the river. We didn't stop -- there's too many miles ahead of us ... the road sign shows. We're booked in a cabin at Blanchetown for the night, 108 K's away.
Foot down on the loud pedal -- headed for Swan Reach now.
Along the road to Swan Reach, you're wanting to stop every few K's,
as the scenery becomes more beautiful along the river --
-- but don't scramble too close to the bank in search of that photo!
The views from Len Kroehn's Lookout are superb.

Lola takes a breather, not far from the tiny town of Nildottie.
A typically South Australian landscape, just a few K's from Nildottie
The Murray River has sustained life in South Australia since the earliest years of the colony.

A houseboat is tucked in at the bank of the Murray River very close to Nildottie.
Now, these guys have the right idea! And you can rent these houseboats. Hmmm...!

Back on the road, we're headed for Blanchetown --
-- more or less following the river and looking forward to dinner!
Houseboats cluster along the riverbank at Blanchetown --
-- as evening light falls over the wetlands. With the car unpacked, we took a stroll...
Swamp hens thrive in these lush wetlands...
A songbird was in full voice as these pictures were taken -- not a bird you'd hear closer to Adelaide,
and we have no idea what it was. Never caught a glimpse of it, sadly.
Photography meets art ... nice. Difficult exposure in the low light ...
and I'd switched to the tiny Nikon CoolPix picket camera.
Evening settles over the river, and we're ready for dinner and some sleep. We'll have a
very early start tomorrow, if we're to stick to schedule.
Dawn breaks over the River Murray at Blanchetown --
And you can tell with one glance at that sky, the weather is changing. It always does on these trips!
Houseboats in the dawn light, under a lowering sky ... and the river is busy with pelicans. You can see
them at lower right -- view this image at full size.
Kookaburras were cackling in the pink of the dawn as we headed back to the cabin...
We had one eye on that sky, wondering what might be coming up!
Sure enough, a weather front headed in as we made tracks for Morgan, in search of breakfast.
Main street Morgan -- and very good bacon and egg rolls!
From Murray Bridge to Blanchetown is a fairly long drive and, admittedly, we stopped numerous times for pictures. The late afternoon light was golden and the silence was profound over a landscape where tiny towns are strung like beads on a necklace, along the river.

The Murray River is quite something ... the third longest navigable river in the world (only the Amazon and Nile are longer), and over 2,500 K's in length, from the point where it rises in the Kosciusco National Park to its outfall at Goolwa -- and over 1,800 K's of this can be navigated. The river provides water to something like a million and a half households, via the third largest catchment system on the planet.

We've wanted to see every part of the river in South Australia, from the point where it crosses the border into this state, to the outfall. Well ... we've seen 95% of it, but the furthest reach, right on the state border, continues to elude us. Another year, for sure.

After the lunch cruise on the Captain Proud we headed out of Murray bridge with the intention of "making the plot up as we went along." Good plan! Evening found us checking into one of the town's two tourist parks. A stroll in the wetlands, dinner ... sleeeep! The night was almost silent, save for the roar of heavy trucks crossing the road bridge over the river, carrying freight to Adelaide.

We'd hoped for a spectacular sunrise, but the pictures above show just what happened. No colors! A flush of faint pink, and then a slow fade up into daylight. Dang. Next time. We packed the car and got out of dodge early, with the object in mind of hunting up breakfast in Morgan, along the river...

And that's where we'll be in the next post.

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