Quarantines and dust storms – Friday 6th April 2012


From our terrace, outside the cabin, we has watched many families unpack a cubic meter of stuff from their car and rearrange it to form a tent, with chairs, table, bikes, cookware, plastic buckets and other necessities. This seems to take at least an hour if the family works together. If, as in at least one case, the family has borrowed the equipment, and needs to phone for instructions, it can take much longer!

Children who are used to campsite life are up early and onto the climbing frames in their pyjamas, feral and joyous. We must look strange as we throw our two suitcases into the boot and leave the Easter holiday crowd. The campsite is now full to bursting, whereas only the other day there was wonderful space. The lake looks totally different now; grey, ruffled by wind and intruded upon by boats and bathers.

We drive the 280 km to Robinvale.
Farm, vineyard, bush, bush- outback scenery.
Much of the road is straight and we learn ‘cruise control’, laughing at no feet!

We cross the state line from South Australia and see queues of traffic halted on the way in, through quarantine regulations. Checks are being made for fruit fly. Fines are being imposed! All fruit and veg have to be jettisoned prior to arriving at this point.

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Then we pass a sign indicating we too should have no fruit or veg. This is difficult as we had some and with some irritation, I threw it into the quarantine bins by the side of the road. We drove on but never saw a similar stop and search station as we had seen going the other way. So my lovely veg could perhaps have been saved.

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Approaching Robinvale, we crossed the state boundaries between Victoria and New South Wales. Here the soil is red and spirals up from the hot wind. Strange sensation: hot wind! The clouds become tinted with red earth.
Robinvale Motel cost $75, a record in cheapness for us! Robinvale was the first town I had seen in Australia which I felt was failing. Shops boarded, some houses in tatters, lots of immigrants, large caravan park by the river. (The last two do not necessarily mean ‘failing’! I am just describing the town!)

The dust spirals have now turned the whole sky dull red. The wind continues to blow as we wander the streets looking for food. We eat in the Chinese restaurant and the food is ok but (as so often in Australia) salty.
Opposite is a rural museum: a collection of rusted implements scattered and piled. They would pass as scrap, if there had not been a single label on the gate claiming museum status.

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