So - Mildura! This was another work trip. Mildura is a good six and a half hours drive from Melbourne, so work sprang for a flight this time. I was going to have to stay overnight as well, as the last flight home was before my presentation was due to end.
The trip to the airport was the usual nightmare - roadworks on the ring road turn what should be a twenty minute trip into just under an hour. After that, checking in was almost a pleasure. Being a regional flight, it was on a smallish twin-prop plane - a DeHavilland Dash 400, for those as care.
I love flying. Love it. Don't do it very often, but I still get excited every time. I scored a window seat, and consequently barely read a page of my book. I spent the whole flight watching the landscape scroll by beneath me: farmland, gradually drying as we progressed north, the vegetation thinning to mallee scrubland. The mallee was finally broken by irrigation as we approached Mildura, sandy scrub giving way to ranks of fruit trees. After about an hour, I caught sight of the Murray, Australia's largest river, which at this point meanders crazily, looping across the landscape, spawning billabongs. We touched down after about an hour and a quarter in the air.
It was hot. Bloody hot - about 35 I think (around a hundred?). I got a taxi to my motel and dropped off my bags. I had a few hours to kill before my presentation, so I thought I'd walk into town, suss out my venue, and grab some lunch.
Remember the "hot" bit? My motel was three quarters of an hours' walk out of town. Well thought out, that. Luckily, I walked past a chemist and an op shop, and scored sunscreen, water and a hat, none of which I'd thought to bring with me.
My impressions of MIldura: I'm not a fan. It felt flat, and dispersed, and empty. The town is built on a pretty tight grid, totally ignoring the major geographical feature in the area - the Murray.
(not my photo)
Tallest building in town: a water tower.
The grass may look green here, but the soil is basically red sand. Mildura runs on irrigation, it's the centre of a major fruit growing district that only exists because of an extensive irrigation system.
I got a weird, dislocated feeling from the whole town.
People are trying though. One of the many empty shops in the main street was hosting a mini-exhibit of art from the local high school:
And there was some neat artwork on one of the coffee shops:
This was my one glimpse of the Murray:
For a place that wouldn't exist without the river, Mildura seems to face away from it.
The session went well - I had eighteen teachers, and they all seemed pretty impressed.
The night at the hotel was uneventful, except for the screaming match I walked past on the street when I went to get dinner. Let's just say I'd stay away from her sister.