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  • A road trip west before it gets too hot. Following the Murray River, the second longest river in Australia. A hard working river, regulated to such an extent that it is barely a natural river any more and during the drought it stopped running to the sea. But it is still beautiful, and after two years of good rain, after the longest drought in recorded history, it is wonderful to see the country, and the rivers, come back to life.

    We head south towards Yorta Yorta country on the banks of the Murray. Our first stop is Barmah a small town on the outskirts of the Barmah–Millewa icon site, the largest river red gum forest in Australia. Well the world really as river red gums aren’t found naturally anywhere else. It is also an internationally-listed Ramsar site because birds from around the world migrate here to rest, eat and to breed.

    We arrive in Barmah just in time for a walk along the river and to watch the AFL (Aussie rules football) final. A Sydney team wins which is heartbreaking for Melbourne who consider themselves the home of this code of football. A game they say was invented by Aboriginal people using a possum skin ball to kick around.

    The next day we take a boat cruise on the river. The river red gums are having a good drink and we spot emus and egrets and kingfishers and a white-bellied sea eagle (one of 14 in the park our guide tells us). And then we can barely believe it but a young koala is perched high in a young river red gum (which is apparently unusual as they don’t taste as nice as other eucalypts). This is only the third koala I have seen in the wild and they have recently been officially listed as threatened so it is wonderful to see one.

    A great beginning to our road trip. Tomorrow we journey along the Murray (or Millewa as the local Yorta Yorta people call it).

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