The 300 km drive from the Grampians up to Mildura covered the Mallee region, named for the gnarled eucalyptus tree that grows everywhere. It was a pretty boring drive, didn't really feel like we were in the outback although technically we were. We were pleasantly surprised by Mildura though. Expecting a dusty little place, we were pleased to find that it's a lovely town, a real little oasis in the desert. It had a quaint town centre with lots of old fashioned shops. We decided to stay two nights so we could have a full day here.
The next day wasn't much of a success though. We drove about 25km out to Lindemanns winery, only to find that actually they don't do tours (cheers guidebook). We came back to town and considered minigolf, but $17 a game was too much for these stingey b*****s, so we came back to the campsite and cooked up a feast of a barbie. It was Mother's Day back home (Aussie's is in May) so we gave our Mum's a ring, then called it a night.
The next day the weather was really grey and miserable, raining most of the time. We headed off early for the long drive to Broken Hill, but 2 minutes out of the campsite we nearly ran over a little terrier. We pulled over and he didn't seem to be with anyone. I got out and called to him, and he absolutely bounded over to me looking so happy that someone was talking to him. He was soaked but he looked well cared for. We tried the nearest house but the guy didn't know who's he was. His advice was to put him back out on the street and he might find his own way home... Yeah, or he might get hit by a car. We rang the RSPCA but they weren't interested, so we had to find the dog pound. This entailed asking numerous shopkeepers and council employees, and in the end, 2 hours later and 30 km out of our way we found it. He didn't have a microchip or collar, so they don't know who owns him. They said if he's not claimed or re-housed in 8 days they will have to put him down. We left feeling so upset, he's just such a lovely little dog, but we did our best for him.
Well, we finally got our outback experience on the journey to Broken Hill. It's such a remote place, 500 km to the nearest city, 1200 km from its state capital, Sydney. The views on the journey were of huge expansive red desert dotted with rocks, occasional trees and the odd emu or kangaroo group, and one hell of a long straight road. You can see for miles in every direction, it's incredible.
Broken Hill is a strange place, I certainly wouldn't say we liked it, but it was interesting. The town has existed for over 100 years on the basis of its silver mines, so there are slag heaps everywhere. The eponymous broken hill towers over the town. In some ways it seems modern, for example the huge supermarket, but then most of the houses are built of tin and wood and look as old as the town. The heat is intense, especially considering it's Autumn.
There wasn't too much of interest in Broken Hill, other than actually seeing the place. We carried on into the desert to a tiny virtual ghost town called Silverton. The place consisted of a few tumbledown houses, a few nice buildings and one famous pub, The Silverton Hotel. It's been featured in loads of films and hundreds of adverts as the quintessential outback pub (in Australia a hotel is a pub). It's been in the Mad Max films most famously, and all the XXXX and Foster's beer ads amongst many others. You can definitely see why all the directors chose it too, it really looks the part. It was surprisingly small inside but it was covered floor to ceiling with memorabilia and photos from the sets of various film shoots.
Later on we drove out to the 'Broken Hill Sculpture Symposium', on top of a big hill in the middle of nowhere. Our main reason for visiting though was a 'cultural trail' bushwalk nearby. We had to pay $10 to do this, and $20 deposit for a key. All a lot of hassle so we were expecting great things. We had told the information staff that we would be going there at about 5pm. So anyway, we had a look at the sculptures, then set off down the big hill to the start of the bushwalk, all the while battling the flies. They were horrendous; we both had headscarves on to protect ourselves but they were a constant cloud around our heads (only our heads for some reason). It was incredibly annoying. These flies actually bite too!
After a difficult 20 minute walk we came to the gate of the bushwalk only to find it locked, with a sign saying it closed at 5pm. The time? 5:10pm. I don't even need to write my reaction down; I believe the word for it would be 'tantrum'. Suffice to say the information staff weren't my favourite people.
The next morning we tackled the bushwalk again, with greater success. From start to finish it was over 2 hours, and we were plagued by flies the whole time, but we were rewarded with a great view of a male red kangaroo with a female and joey. Also saw some emus, and the views were amazing. The 500 km down to Adelaide we did in 6 hours. Coming into the city we were surprised, everyone slags off Adelaide and says it's not worth going, but it seemed like a really nice place. The sun was setting beautifully and it just seemed nice. We drove through to a caravan park in Glenelg, the beach suburb, and parked up, thus ending one great road trip.