Wheat fields

Wheat fields
Warracknabeal, Australia

Warracknabeal, Australia


Taking Dave’s advice we took the car out to take in a circular drive to the edge of
Wyperfeld National Park through Beulah, Hopetoun, Rainbow and Jeparit.
I’d never heard of any of the towns, but I enjoy a good stop and drive.

We had lunch in the deserted Hopetoun caravan park. Just us and a thousand blowflies. Jo and Rosa ate in the car. The town was rather desolate in the heat of the day. The shop fronts were old, weathered verandah style that I love best. They look so run down and full of character. They were also, it being Easter, closed. The local lake was also empty, a sign warning water skiiers of the dangers of hidden branches looked about thirty years old.

It took a good hour to drive from Hopetoun to Rainbow, yet all we saw was wheat fields. I can’t even remember passing any cars. It is a very dry, flat land that’d be dispiriting during a drought when all the fields were a monotonous cordouray brown. Rainbow was a little busier, with a secondary school and groups of kids hanging around the milk bar, but its glory days were long gone too.

I was beginning to feel that the Mallee country could indeed invoke Nick Cave’s gothic tales of impending doom, death and melancholy beauty. It reminded me of a quote from an Irish writer who said, in as many words, that in the city a frustrated man will get drunk and rough his wife around, but in the country he’ll come home and strangle his mother.

We left early enough the next day, taking our time on the way home and discovering the best fish & chip shop ever in Ararat, where we also took in the old asylum and jail tour I’ve wanted to do for a while. Rosa was a little spooked, but did well. Suited the theme of the holiday.

The Mallee is a tough country, but I’m glad we went. It is a place few go unless they divert off the Sunraysia Highway to Mildura. I’d have loved to camp in the National Parks there and I have new found respect for the farmers who live and work there.


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