Saturday, April 23, 2016

Monarto to Murray Bridge, and on to Milang

Gazelles at Monarto Wildlife Park ... probably heading off to a feeding point. It's getting along to mid-late
afternoon, and we're starting to think about afternoon tea ourselves!
A zebra heads determinedly along a guide fence ... tea, anyone?!
Prezwalski's horse: almost extinct in the wild, and thriving at Monarto.
American bison against a backdrop of native Australian trees -- how surreal is this! Cool, though.
American buffalo ... molting in an Australian fall. How do they manage the Aussie summer??
Monarto's white rhino snoozes the afternoon away in his corral...
...from the bus, which makes its way through these vast paddocks filled with antelope, giraffes, ostrich...
and if you keep a sharp eye out you'll see kangaroos in the distance!
Leaving Monarto, you exit via the gallery and store, which has touch-friendly exhibits...

And we're off on the road to Murray Bridge, hoping for afternoon tea.
Murray Bridge -- Mobilong Precinct, above the wharf...
Parklands along the river ... where we stopped for a picnic, since no place in town was open for a decent meal!
Bizarre as it sounds, every restaurant and pub stops serving at 2:00pm and doesn't reopen till 6:00.
Galahs (often known overseas as rose-breasted cockatoos) cavorting in the tree over our picnic spot...

...powerboats and water-skiers zipped up and down on the river, and a family of noisy miners cadged for crumbs.

The afternoon sun was lowering as we headed for Milang, where we were booked in at our usual --
the Milang Lakes Motel, our favorite place to stay on Lake Alexandrina.
It's a picturesque drive, especially in good weather. Often, the skies darken as you approach Milang, but
this time we were lucky ... blue skies all the way.

A strong wing raises whitecaps on Lake Alexandrina, on the way into town...
An Australian magpie stands beak-to-the-wind under a racing windlass.
Lake Alexandrina -- the lakeshore. Actually, a shot borrowed from another day, as you can tell from the
calm lake surface and the lovely sky. Confession: after Monarto, I was dead tired and ready for a rest at the motel! 
Milang: Paddle Steamer Drive, seen across the wetlands -- again, borrowed from another day.
And Milang: the bird sanctuary. Should be called a FROG sanctuary! Dang, those guys are loud at night.
The main thought in our minds as we left the Monarto Wildlife Park was FOOD. We'd intended to head to Murray Bridge for something like a very late lunch or very early dinner, but plans were upturned by the fact that every restaurant or pub in town was no longer serving. They close the kitchen at 2:00pm and don't reopen till 6:00, so we were out of luck, unless we wanted fast food, which we didn't.

The solution was a somewhat on-the-fly picnic, in the parklands by the river. Wouldn't you know it? Usually we go out loaded (and bring back 90% of the food). This time we'd intended to go "cafe to cafe," so we hadn't over-packed. But enough was in the cooler to put something together, and we didn't exactly starve.

Then, on to Milang as a strong wind began to crank. The lake was energetic with whitecaps, and we guessed it would be cold later. But what got our hopes up was the clear blue sky. For the first time in many years, you'd see stars tonight. And Milang is so far from any town that the skies there are DARK ... we were longing to see the Milky Way, and were not disappointed.

We put on as many layers as we could and went out at about 10:30pm. Aha! The sky was blazing. You can walk out of town in 90 seconds, and we did. The whole galaxy arched overhead like something out of a movie. Gorgeous! But there was no way to photograph it ... not with "compact" cameras. One of these days we'll go back with a full-on digital SLR and see what can be done.

Next: the lake in the morning light, waterbirds galore, and off to Wellington for breakfast.

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