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Retrace 1996: Melbourne - Mannum
Sunday 15th September 1996 - 8pm
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We are camped beside the Murray river in the Mannum reserve, near Murray Bridge. Fish are jumping and the children have gone to bed in their tents after a long day's drive from Melbourne.

Jack in fire light at Mannum
Jack in fire light at Mannum

We got away this morning at about 8.45 (earlier than our usual dawn start time 11 am) leaving behind a blustery northerly, a horrible wind that had been upsetting us all week. First stop was among the beautiful pink boulders of the Grampians - Mount Langi Chiran, where we ran about in the bush and climbed a little so we could look out towards Ararat. It seems like we are crossing more than one family path, as, according to the NRMA map, H.S. Wills rested here when he brought cattle from N.S.W in 1840.

The flat green country of the Murray has been like a golf course. Every now and again the sand showing through like the edge of a bunker - very tedious. We thought we might find a place to camp at Talem Bend but it was all irrigated land right up to the river's edge so we were forced to press on.

I remembered Murray Bridge as a dump. It doesn't seem to have changed much. After fuelling up we called into a bait shop looking for a mantle for the gas lamp and asked a large woman with a mole on her lip if she knew of anywhere to camp. She shook her head and said the police had clamped down on camping but following a discussion with a friend she revealed that there was a reserve where we would be safe about 30 kms away.

After a small dispute with Susan about directions (she was right as usual) we found it just before dark and here we are. It is everything a river side camp could be except that firewood is scarce and the river looks unhealthy and dirty. The town of Mannum is directly opposite. Just after dark a large river boat made its way upstream with a load of revellers. At this moment another one has just pulled in from down stream and I can hear drunken women shrieking across the water 200 metres away.

Jack and Bonnie at Mannum
Jack and Bonnie at Mannum

We are amongst huge river red gums, the water is lapping beside us and the mozzies are not too bad. Half a kilometre upstream is a little ferry to take us across the river towards tomorrow's adventures. An ideal spot.

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