The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere

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Going Around the Bend!

This constant heat could send you around the bend but I was saved from the worst of it by the cool waters of the Murray River as I made my way from Mildura to Echuca before heading north towards Forbes and our Solo Travellers Rally. All my Murray River camps were at a Bend, which isn’t hard when this old river loops around along its 2500kilometre journey from the mountains to the sea.

I found this map that highlights the areas that I camped. What a coincidence that it’s a map of the Murray River Wine Region. This time though I was more interested in water than wine – water of the swimming kind!


After leaving Broken Hill I travelled south about 250kms to Mildura. I found a wonderful spot on the river called Abbotsford Bend and stayed there 4 nights, with some active goannas keeping me amused during the day. There are no facilities here but it is free!

My next stop over was at Psyche Bend, the site of an old pump station on the Murray not far from Mildura. The last time I stayed here it rained and I had a very slippery trip back out to the main road but there has been considerable work done to the camp sites here with road base laid down and planting between the very large sites.Each site had a fire pit, too. There are still no facilities but there is also no charge to stay here.

Beggs Bend was my next camping spot, near Robinvale. Once again another freebie, and another opportunity to cool down in the Murray River. No facilities here either but by now I know I have about 4 days use of my porta-loo before I need to find a black water dump point. So I stayed here another 4 nights! I just about lived in the water here as I parked the van at the water’s edge. A top spot!

Swan Hill was my next main town and I was looking forward to catching up with Helen, who was my Dad’s home help when he was alive. Helen and I had always got on really well and her and her husband Paul were very caring. We had a great afternoon together and I’m looking forward to seeing them again on my way Tasmania later this year. I stayed at Lake Boga for a couple of nights while I was in this area. It was $7.50 a night with toilets and lovely hot showers (no power though). There is water in the lake now as they pump it in and it is used for irrigation in the area, finally making its way back to the Murray River.I captured this stunning sunset the first night I was there.

IMG_6244Lake Boga

And now I’m back to the bends! This time it was Betha Bend, just out of Echuca. I only had one night here as I was on my way to Greens Lake to catch up with the couple I am house-sitting for in May, Elaine and Bob. Betha Bend is also a free camp and another very pretty spot to spend some time.

I am sure I would have gone around the bend if it hadn’t been for all these wonderful bends in the Murray River and the fact that they are so accessible to travellers like myself. I have a very lucky life!


The Murray Princess,

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On the Home Run to Penola

Our final stop at the top of the Eyre Peninsula was Port Augusta which we carefully skirted as best we could and continued to head down the coast, this time on the Fleurieu Peninsula. We still had a few days before the rally began and I was keen to stop in one spot for a while when we got closer to Penola. Setting up and packing up my van every day is not my idea of my travelling lifestyle!

Port Augusta to Penola

Port Augusta to Penola

Our first overnighter we planned to stay at one of the National Park camp sites but when we arrived we found that you had to book a site on line. Well, that was a bit hard to do as there was no mobile or internet reception until we had driven the 5kms back to the gate so we thought we’d keep going. We ended up at Baroota Rodeo and Campground. It was dusty but the welcome made up for that, and the showers were great. After a lazy start the next day we continued along the coast road, stopping to photograph yet another jetty at Port Germein. The signs claim it is the longest timber jetty in the Southern Hemisphere at 1.5kms long, but I think Busselton, in Western Australia, beats it at 1.8kms, so they can justifiably claim the title!

We continued to hug the coast until we got to Two Wells, where we headed east to Gawler to avoid going through Adelaide, our aim being to make it to Mannum and a caravan park to catch up on washing clothes, hair, etc. The caravan park at Mannum was a great find – right on the river – and our camp site was looking out over the water. I also bumped in to a lovely couple I had met at Pinjarra, in Western Australia, Peter and Ann, who were also staying there. We couldn’t wish for anything nicer.  The water hens were pesky, though, and one ducked in and stole my toast off my breakfast plate – cheeky thing!

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Margaret decided to head to Penola the next day and I decided to cross the river to Haythorpe Reserve and have a couple of days by myself before tackling the last leg to Penola. Both Haythorpe Reserve and Bolto Reserve are directly over the river from the Mannum township and the ferry runs 24 hours a day on demand. They both have flush toilets and there is an honesty box for the overnight fee of $10. It is free to use the ferry and it carries both vehicles and pedestrians. I love these ferries, having first used one at Cadell on my way across to the west 12 months ago.

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I just had to take a photo of the Paddle Steamer Marion, as that is my sister’s name – although my sister was built a little later than 1897!! The PS Marion is a fully restored, operational, wood fired, steam driven Paddle Steamer and was totally restored for its 100th birthday in 1997. Mannum lays claim as the birthplace of the Australian paddle steamer with the launch of the Mary Ann in 1853. Both the links I have included above give some great information about The Marion, its specifications, and its history – fascinating stuff! And you can find out more about the Maritime Museum at Mannum here.

But the most spectacular sight was the Murray Princess as it cruised by my campsite! What a great trip on the mighty Murray River that would be!

The Murray Princess,

The Murray Princess, paddle steamer

With a stopover at the Naracoorte Showgrounds for one night I finally caught up with my fellow Solos at Greenrise Lake as we camped up to enter the Solos Rally tomorrow. It has been only 14 days since I left Western Australia and I have travelled over 3200kms……so much to see ….. so little time!







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Flashback Friday

2014 – After leaving Russell’s and revisiting my Aunt in Sale I headed north towards the Murray River for some R&R on the way to the Solos Rally.

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I then made my way to Nyah and caught up with other Solos as we made our way to Balranald. It was time to catch up with old friends…and new!

The Solos Rally at Balranald was great fun and as I write this I am looking forward to the next rally in Penola, in South Australia, in March 2015.

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2014 – These Are a Few of My Favourite Things

This is my last blog for 2014 so I thought it appropriate to recap my travels this year. The map below shows where I started in Tasmania and where I’ve ended up nearly 12 months later in Western Australia. Although it says the distance of 9,700 odd kms I have in fact travelled more than 15,000kms – and loved every minute of it!

2014 Travel

I started to tell a story and didn’t know when to stop so I have now decided to share my photos as a ‘wrap’ for 2014. Obviously I can’t include everything, but, as the title says, these are a few of my favourite things.

My year began in Tasmania….

Highlights of Tassie? The beaches, the free camps, spending time with my sister, travelling with friends, and the boat trip on the Franklin River out of Strahan to Hell’s Gates and Sarah Island.

Every bend in the road opens up to more spectacular scenery and I can’t wait to go back and visit all the places I missed plus some favourites from this trip.


I left Tasmania after the Evandale Penny Farthing Races and on landing in Melbourne made my way to Gippsland to visit my Aunty Molly. I am so glad I had some time with her as she passed away at the wonderful age of 96 in August. With longevity on both sides of my family I think I’ll be around for a long time yet!! I just love these old photos of her. The beach babe was taken on New Years Day 1936 at the famous 90 Mile Beach and the other at the family home in Yarram, Victoria

Leaving Gippsland I spent some time on the Murray River on my way to the Solos Rally in Balranald. It was a great opportunity to catch up with friends and fellow travellers….

…and Balranald was a quirky little town with a frog fetish! …. and more….

South Australia

Then I was on my way to my house sit in WA, through South Australia and across the Nullabor….. to a welcomed arrival in Norseman

Western Australia

Met up with some wonderful people at the Salmon Gums Community Caravan Park and then feeling a little sand, sea and salt air deprived I was on my way to Lucky Bay at Cape Le Grande and other Southern coastal camps.

With a brief unexpected sojourn to the Fairbridge Festival of Folk and World Music I arrived in Secret Harbour to move out of my van and into a beautiful home for 2 months while the owners travelled overseas.

In early July I was back on the road again …..but how can I tell you about all the wonderful places I’ve been and people I’ve met over the last 6 months. Well, here goes… it is in some sort of chronological order!! And I thought I’d try the slide show option for the first time….let me know if you like it or if you’d prefer to see the photos in a grid as I usually do.

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What an amazing year I’ve had! You only get to see some of the photos …. this has taken me days as I’ve scrolled through ALL my photos and relived the many wonderful moments I’ve enjoyed in 2014. And as us happy campers often comment, the people you meet are what make so many of the places so memorable. I hope you’ve enjoyed travelling with me and will continue the journey together in 2015.