Saturday, April 18, 2015

Riverlands 2014, Part Six: wine by the truckload, the world's biggest sheep, and one amazing sunset

Loxton, on South Australia's Murray River, is a wine region producing an amazing volumes as well as
some really wonderful wines... 
Dave checks out the visitor information. As the sign says, "Welcome to Loxton" --!
Everywhere you look, it's tanks of wine ... and watch out for trucks crossing!
Wineries also frequently offer restaurants, cafes and accommodation ... makes it just too easy.
Now, if we could only remember which this one is! Pretty, at any rate.
But the time really had come to turn for home, point the Mitsubishi Magna called Lola toward Adelaide
and put the foot down. Heading west from Loxton on the Karoonda Highway, you run into wheat country...
...and the road is a rollercoaster. It was laid down on ancient dunes -- this whole area was once (in geological terms)
the bottom of the sea, and later a desert like the Sahara. The road shows that wave-pattern of dunes... it takes you to (!) Karoonda, on its way from Berri to Murray Bridge. Now, those are grain silos.
Karoonda has quite a history -- perfectly readable here, if you view this image at large size --
-- and also, Karoonda boasts probably the biggest sheep in the world ... concrete, of course! He's HUGE --
known as "the Big Ram" for obvious reasons. It's a tribute to the Merino sheep which made this region prosperous.

Wall art depicts something of Karoonda's past -- neat. (Actually, this graces the west wall of
the public facilities! Neat bathrooms, too ... and halfway from Loxton to Murray bridge, very welcome!)
One of the enormous windlass sails -- these devices played a major part in opening up this country.
As the sign there says, "No wind, no water, no life." Very, very true.
Main street Karoonda ... and at this time on a Sunday evening, almost everything is closed. The pub's open...
Back on the road, we're headed almost due west into the the rapidly-lowering sun...
A beautiful evening, maybe half an hour east of Murray Bridge ...
shot from the side window, at 100kph, hence the movement-blur in the foreground.
Back in Murray Bridge at last, as evening begins to settle down over the hills...
Tail lights gleam in the twilight on the Southeastern Freeway. Headed for home: looks like it'll be a lovely sunset.
Sunset -- perfect conditions! Grab the camera. All these images were captured (by Jade ... Dave was
driving). We didn't even have to pull over. Check out those "god rays."

It's amazing what you can do in two days, if you make an early start and get home late. Looking back over this series of posts, we're astonished ... we packed in a lot. This last post covers just the final few hours as we finally turned for home -- in Loxton. We put the trusty Mitsubishi Magna on the Karoonda Highway to Murray Bridge, through the region known as "the Murray Mallee," and settled in for the long haul.

Halfway back to Murray Bridge you can take a welcome break in the rural town of Karoonda, which is not-quite-world-famous, but a most pleasant community ... with arguably the biggest concrete sheep in the world. "The Big Ram" is a masterpiece statue done as a tribute to the Merino sheep that made this region prosperous in the early 1950s. If you're interested, view the info panel, above, at full-size: it's perfectly readable. (Traveling around, one can be inundated with these pages of history, and Jade usually photographs them to read later. Sometimes there's the makings of a major novel in them -- like the story of the mines in Burra.)

The shadows were long and it was actually getting quite chilly as we left Karoonda with far to go. We knew we'd be getting home after dark, but there was one more treat in store: a thoroughly spectacular sunset, which was photographed from the road at 110kph -- Jade with the camera, Dave driving, obviously. Not too long after the last shot was captured, we pulled into our driveway, home again, home again, too tired to do the jigging part.

Apologies to all that it's taken so long to get these posts up. It's been an "interesting" year. These last episodes are being uploaded after the 2015 road trip -- in fact, as soon as the quick-list for this one is done, Jade will be starting on the next: lions and lakes, bison and barrages, fall colors and fur seals, and the place where photography meets art when the sun rises over Milang. It was a lot of fun, about one month ago at the time of this writing.

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