Our travels landed us in Mildura towards the end of November 2012. The days were warm, some even hot but we were lucky to leave before the temperature sky rocketed to 47 degrees.
I instantly liked Mildura. Yes it is remote but the landscape of vineyards and orchards is beautiful. Mildura has a fascinating story and owes its success to the early irrigation schemes that brought crops of stone fruit, citrus and grapes. The region is known as Sunraysia – the land of sunshine, grapes and oranges. It is famous for it’s production of dried fruit and wine. Mildura is a popular destination for backpackers seeking seasonal picking work. We stayed for about 8 days in total in a caravan park, and a few nights camping by the river at Psyche Bend. I was surprised how big Mildura was. Weirdly, a short drive out of town will land you in the middle of the desert. It is an oasis of fertility and prosperity. A town that loves good food, wine and rustic Italian flare.
We visited the Sunraysia Farmer’s Market held at Ornamental Lakes, a large park down by the Murray River. The farmer’s market is held on the First and third Saturday of every month , 9am – 1pm. This market is well supported by the locals.
Woorlong Family Farms is located in Red Cliffs (16km south of Mildura). Their hens are free range and have access to open green pastures all day and are safely housed at night.
Garlic was in season and large garlic braids were hanging at many stalls. The one pictured above was $20. These lovely fragrant bouquets made me want to buy a rustic farmhouse and have these hanging in my large cool larder. Everything about this market made me want to have a farmhouse larder stocked with marinated, pickled and preserved produce and baskets of dried fruit, oh and wine!
The farmer’s market puts on a big breakfast buffet that features local produce from stall holders. The menu changes with the seasons and highlights the delights of the region. There is a selection of local condiments to accompany your breakfast, $2 cups of fresh squeezed Sunraysia oranges and tables set up in the shade with cute posies of flowers in small clear jars. A perfect weekend ambiance and for the tourist, the perfect way to sample a Murray River breakfast.
I wish we weren’t on such a travellers budget during our visit. There is some seriously good food and fun to be had in Mildura. I guess we will just have to come back some other time.
On our way out of Mildura (heading towards Hay) we stopped in at a cute roadside honesty box near Gol Gol in New South Wales. While I was busy stocking up, the owner (Georgina I assume) arrived with a wheelbarrow full of just picked avocados. I had a lovely chat. Along with her husband, she has been operating the stall for 30 years. I shared my love of the honesty box system and how much we appreciate it as travellers. By and large they had found the public to be honest but a roadside stall like this would never have worked back in Europe where she was from. No no, she said, it would all get stolen!
A few days later the avocados we bought were ready to be eaten. With so much flavour, we ate them plain and enjoyed each mouthful.