“The challenge, if you wish to accept it, is to discover what you can do in Mildura in two days”. With the push of a button the phone call was over, but the message didn’t self-destruct, it was stuck in my mind that was now spinning fast. I love Mildura, visiting on many occasions over the years, but this was the first time I’d have to write about it. Thanks Jacob, challenge accepted.
Having lost count of the number of times I’ve driven the Calder Highway from Melbourne to Mildura, it is now a blur (except for the obligatory stop at the Charlton Bakery). Pulling into the All Seasons Holiday Park, I was blown away by how much work they have done to upgrade the park and how green it was looking.
Day One challenges
Anytime is a good time for a wine, so Trentham Estate Winery is where I headed. Across the Murray River into NSW, the Mildura Holden Motor Museum is on the left for the Holden fans. The cellar door at Trentham Estate opens at 10:00am and I was right on time. Swirl, sniff, taste, spit. As the designated driver I had to take care, but I still enjoyed the quaff and walked away with a couple of beauties (wines).
I passed Varapodio Estate on my return to Mildura, if you fancy extra virgin olive oil, this place produces some of the best. Their café offers good old homestyle cooking with coeliacs and vegetarians looked after too.
Back in Mildura I thought a look back at some of the town’s history was in order so I took a visit to Rio Vista, built for George and WB Chaffey in 1890, and the old Homestead erected around 1850 by Hugh and Bushby Jamieson. The Chaffey’s were the driving force behind Mildura becoming the first irrigation colony and the efforts of their work is still evident today.
With Wentworth nearby, the navigator was set for the Perry Sandhills. One of the Top 5 Instagram Hot Spots, you will have a ball sliding down these stunning sand dunes on a big piece of cardboard, boogie board or snowboard. The kids will love the freedom too.
While in Wentworth, also check out the old Wentworth Gaol and the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers.
Day Two Challenges
Moving slowly around the billabongs at Gol Gol in the still of a new day was a good choice, and I joined Ian Whitfield from Moontongue Eco-Adventures on a tour.
Besides enjoying the slow pace for an hour or so, Ian also highlighted several canoe trees, talked of the cultural significance of the area to the Aboriginal people and pointed out the local bird varieties including pelicans, whistling kites, darts and black swans.
Lock 11 is a fascinating way to see how the houseboats, paddle steamers and jet skis bypass the weir. You can really get up close to watch how it all works. The next step is to jump aboard the P.S Melbourne paddle steamer and enjoy a two hour cruise that will take you downstream via Lock 11 to Apex Beach before turning around and heading back.
Quirky is what I needed, and I found it a Fosseys Ginporium on Eighteenth Street. Steve Timmis Esq is the whacky Ginnovator who has created gin elixirs made with saltbush or desert limes or shiraz grape – you can purchase a paddle of tasters. Steve also has a letter from Queen Elizabeth II in his office, thanking him for his bottle of Gin Toddy that he sent her.
Where to eat
Mildura has become a real foodie hotspot over the years, with celebrity chef Stefano showing the way at his restaurant in the basement of the Grand Hotel. Having enjoyed two seasonal degustation menus in the past, I can highly recommend saving the pennies and experiencing one yourself.
There are several pubs and cafes all over the region that provide amazing fare and Langtree Avenue is a great place to start. The Mildura Brewery is in this locale too.
The Best Place to Stay
All Seasons Holiday Park sits nicely on “The Row” as you drive into Mildura on the Calder Highway. If you have the kids onboard, this is the place to park it – bouncy air mattress, pool action, tennis court, playground and to complete the package, a splash park.
The camp kitchen and BBQ area are the best places to meet someone new or just check out what the neighbours are up to because happy hour is very popular in the park.
The Gateway Tavern is an easy stroll away and I highly recommend the rump steak!
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