|Late Afternoon from the Bushman's Rest Caravan Park at Lake Cullulleraine, Victoria|
I'm not sure why it's never occurred to us to stop at Lake Cullulleraine, 58 km west of northern Mildura and deep in the heart of the Victorian Mallee.
|HHHMMMmmm... wonder how many others have captured this Lake Cullulleraine tree?! Victoria|
Only 3½ hours from Adelaide, the Cullulleraine (as it is shown on more modern maps) is a perfect example of why it's SO worth exploring places not so far from home, something us long-distance road-trip experts tend not to do.
|Misty Morning at Bushman's Rest Caravan Park, Lake Cullulleraine|
So when we left home much later than anticipated, and spent an inordinately long lunchtime at the FAAAAABULOUS Renmark Patisserie Café/Bakery AND then crossed the border into Victoria thereby gaining half an hour, we realised we'd be getting to Mildura on dusk.
Something Pilchard swore we'd never do.
So we pulled in to the Bushman's Rest Caravan Park for a drive by.
That's a euphemism for 'check and see if it looks like it's full of psychos and axe murderers before we commit to staying', in case you were wondering … and if it doesn't pass the 'whaddayareckon' test, we – yes, you guessed it – drive by!
|This sign's doctored, right? RIGHT?????|
Bushman's Rest passed with flying colours, (despite the sign in the amenities block ...) especially when the manager, unprompted, gave us a 10% discount!
Even without knowing he was speaking with Red Nomad OZ – although I guess this post will give the game away ...
The huge lawned lakefront site with power and a view to die for as the sun started sinking behind the clouds, far enough off the Sturt Highway to muffle the traffic noise and with no one else much around may mean we never stay in Mildura again!!
It also meant we stayed an extra day. Even though we woke to heavy fog and winter temperatures.
|Cormorants in the Mist, Lake Cullulleraine, Victoria|
A few kilometres north (although not enough to make any difference to the weather) is the Lock 9 weir, constructed in the mid 1920's and one of 13 locks along the Murray River (or River Murray, depending on which school you went to, and how long ago).
|Lock 9 and its SIGN! Murray River, Victoria|
Absolute virgin territory (ie neither of us had been there before), it's a wild stretch where few houseboats venture.
Although the sign at the lock warns of a different danger ...
Although Lake Cullulleraine is 9 metres above the river level, there's still a lot of floodplain in between that would have been inundated during the massive 1956 floods, the benchmark against which all floods in these parts are measured. With 100 times the volume of water than that flowing through the river now!
The 184 hectare Lake, once an ephemeral wetland, has been topped up since the 1920's to provide a permanent water supply for a post-war farming scheme in the Millewa district.
|Lake Cullulleraine Supply Channel, Victoria|
The 10.4 km walking trail circumnavigating the lake (8.6 km if you take the shortcut!) passes through a number of habitats, over the Supply Channel Bridge AND – most unexpected of all – past a now disused Scenic Public Toilet on a rise behind the old boat ramp.
From which that killer sunset is best viewed …
|Sunset over Lake Cullulleraine from the Scenic Public Toilet ruins, Victoria|
As we relaxed on the lake front after our 8.6 km stroll (yes, we took the shortcut!), the manager gave his boat plane a workout from the jetty directly in front – presumably in preparation for the upcoming R/C Float Plane event in early July! Little did he know he – and his plane – would soon be appearing on my blog …
|The Float Plane flies TOO HIGH! Float-planning from Lake Cullulleraine Jetty, Bushman's Rest Caravan Park|
Albeit separately - my sports photography skills being insufficient to get a clear shot of the plane in the air!
|The Float Plane has Landed ...|
As dusk fell, and countless Purple Swamphen gathered in anticipation of beating the possums to our leftovers, we knew we'd lucked out.
It had never before occurred to us to stop at Lake Cullulleraine.
But we won't be making that mistake again – we've still got the attractions on the southern side of the highway to explore!
And there's not an axe murderer in sight …
|Walking around Lake Cullulleraine, Victoria|