Sid and Sharon Genaux <> wrote:
We are in the library in Mildura, still on the banks
of the Murray River. We traveled from Echuca to Swan
Hill where we stayed for a several days and then
northwest to Mildura. At Swan Hill, we met up with
John O'Bree and his family. John is a member of the
MidMurray Field Naturalists Club and he took us out
birding in the area twice. John and Nola, his wife,
were lovely people and we thoroughly enjoyed getting
to know them. John would
like to establish a sort of pen-pal relationship
between the Allegany County Bird Club and the
MidMurray Field Naturalists Club when we return to the
We liked Swan Hill; it is a nice friendly town with a
lot of orchards and vegetable farms along the river.
We enjoyed the story of how it was named. In June
1836, Major Mitchell, an early explorer, and his party
camped near Pental Island. They had difficulty
sleeping because of the noise of the multitudes of
Black Swans on the river in that area, so Mitchell
called the camp Swan Hill. Swan Hill is also famous as
the finish line of the Murray River Canoe Marathon
each Christmas time. Teams of canoeists leave from
Yarrawonga on Boxing Day and paddle for 5 days
downstream to Swan Hill. The event started in 1969 and
is now the world's greatest, longest, and most
gruelling canoe race. It is a fund raiser for the
Australian Red Cross and has grown to involve
thousands of volunteers as well as the contestants in
various classes of canoes and kayaks.
Next came Mildura in the Sunraysia country.
Mildura is the center of irrigation for the area and
is a horticultural area. Citrus fruits, avocados,
grapes, peaches, pistachios, almonds, and vegetable
grown here. It is one of the world's premier producers
of dried fruit. In early days, transportation on the
river was sometimes delayed because the river was low
in late summer. Until the winter rains came, the
harvested fruit could not be shipped. The grapes,
sultanas, and currants which made up the bulk of the
produce would not keep well during that time, so the
farmers hit upon the idea of drying them. Raisins,
dried apricots, and other dried fruits are still a
major product of the Sunraysia district. When you
approach Mildura from the north east as travelers from
Sydney to Adelaide do, you come through arid,
semi-desert country and mallee scrub. After traveling
through that dry, sunbaked land, Mildura is a paradise
of green trees, flowers, fruit, and water. It is a
popular tourist destination both in winter and summer.
It is far enough north and inland, that it is warm in
winter; in summer, the river is the attraction for
fishing and water sports. It is very hot in summer,
but the humidity is low. It has been close to 40
degrees Centigrade the last few days. That is over 100
degrees Fahrenheit, but if you are sensible and do
most of your outside activities in the morning or
evening and be sure to drink lots of water, it is not
bad. We made it through the hottest day of the summer.
It was 48 degrees Centigrade in the early
afternoon--we never heard what the temperature got to
at its highest. That is 118.4 degrees Fahrenheit. It
was so hot that groups of birds were sitting on the
ground on the shady
side of tree trunks. We saw several species of birds
crowding together as close to the trunk as they could
get with their mouths agape to try to cool themselves
a little. We've never seen anything like it before.
Another place we visited in near Mildura was the Gol
Gol Yabbie Farm. Yabbies are a type of freshwater
crayfish which can be found all over Australia.
Probably, they are much like the Louisiana crawdads.
This place sold the larger ones (about the length of a
man's hand) for food and the smaller ones for bait. We
had yabbie sandwiches for lunch; it takes the meat
from 3 or 4 yabbies to provide enough to make one
sandwich. They tasted pretty good. They are bred in
tanks and then put into ponds to grow up. One
interesting thing is that they are very territorial.
If you catch a yabbie and put him in another pond from
where he grew up, he will leave the water and try to
go home. Gol Gol Yabbie Farm sells yabbies to be put
into farm ponds or fish ponds in suburban gardens but
they have to sell
newly hatched ones that are less than 1/8 of an inch
long so they haven't formed an attachment to thier
home yet. Otherwise the buyers would find their newly
bought yabbies going walkabout across their paddocks.
found a t-shirt that she would have bought except it
only came in childrens' sizes. It had a cartoon
picture of a yabbie on it with a flag that said
"Yabbie, dabbie, doo!".
We will be sending another message soon about our trip
to Mungo National Park. We went there while we were in
Mildura and it deserves its own report.
We have really enjoyed your e-mails. Lately, we've
heard from some folks we hadn't been in touch with for
quite a while and it was a nice surprise. Thanks a lot
for remembering us.
Sid and Sharon Genaux
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