I’d promised my Aunt we’d visit her in Swan Hill some time this year, and we managed to do so in November. She welcomed us with a three course meal. It was the day before the Melbourne Cup and she had laid out all her Fascinators for women from her retirement village to come and choose from for an outing on Cup Day to the local bowling club. So we tested a few. These photos look much better when you click on them.

I quite liked the pink one; though it didn’t go with my orange outfit.

But consensus on Instagram was that the red one suited me better.

Aunty Kath tells me this little grey one was the most expensive. I liked the turquoise on her.

She thought I was getting taller, but truth be told, she is getting shorter. But is still as lively as ever – my mother’s youngest sister. We had a lovely afternoon before leaving her talking to a neighbour.

A quick hello to the Murray River; always impressive, especially on a beautiful day.

Then off to Sea Lake. Overtaken on the road by a rainstorm which I tried to capture on film.

It was sudden and fierce. and scary. I thought we should have pulled off the road.

But it didn’t last long, being replaced by full sunshine in a matter of minutes.

We went back to Lake Tyrrell, where we had first visited in July this year. It’s the famous pink lake, so called because during warm, wet periods the lake takes on a pink colour from the red pigment, beta-carotene, secreted by the alga Dunaliella salina.

We thought it looked a little pinker than last time we were here – which is as it should be as it is in the summer that the pink comes through. I thought I had blogged about that trip but find I haven’t.

On that first trip we had come in the evening and not been able to see anything – except the Milky Way which was spectacular! This time we were too tired to stay up late enough to admire it again. In July when we came to the viewing platform in the morning it was enveloped in fog.

We couldn’t see the lake at all. Strange to be so close to a lot of water and only see this. We had no idea of the extent of it.

On that trip I took lots of pictures of this tree, it being the only thing visible through the misty moisty morning.

But then we decided to go around to the Old Salt Road entrance, as had been recommended to us by a fellow visitor the night before. There we saw this magnificent sunrise.

Which when it cleared and lit up the lake revealed this.

And a little bit later as the sun rose we saw this silver expanse of water.

Even more dramatically we saw some of the famed Chinese (we assumed) tourists taking pictures. That this spot is the centre of a tourist trail is a source of amazements to locals, including me. We are told this started with an Instagram picture of the stars reflected in the lake; but that might be an urban (rural) myth. Whatever the truth, this was an astonishing site to see.

Our boots got encased in mud on our trek out to the lake and we saw some discarded shoes – mostly expensive looking runners – but we weren’t prepared to lose ours although they took some cleaning. The mud was like glue.

We then returned to the viewing platform where we got a glimpse of water through our lonely tree.

And a little later as the sun rose higher in the sky the water was even clearer; revealing a surprisingly large expanse.

Here was our first look in warmer weather in November. We felt there was more pink to be seen although, despite the recent rainfall, perhaps not as much water.

Here it is from the distance, on the road in just past the viewing platform. This time there were a number of cars gathered near the gate leading into the lake and people making their way across the mud, but we didn’t join them. We’d experienced the muddy boots and were content to look from a distance.

Back at the viewing platform we saw the lone tree and this time the water clearly in evidence; but again not as much as in winter.

It being daytime and sunny, I could take a picture of the information board. It’s amazing that I lived nearby for so long, not knowing anything about this place – except that it was here, and of no particular interest! Although we knew they harvested salt from it.

It’s a natural depression and a discharge area for ground water, apparently in the mallee these are sometimes referred to by the Aboriginal word boinkas. During winter salty water percolates into the Lake which may be supplemented by water from Tyrrell Creek. Most of the water evaporates over summer leaving the salt. There are two mineral and salt extraction operations at the Lake, the largest of which, Cheetham Salt P/L extracts an average of 100,000 tonnes of salt a year. We bought some in July but haven’t sampled it yet. They’ve studied the sand dune (lunette) on the eastern edge of the lake and found 137 Aboriginal cultural sites including hearths, stone scatters and burials. The oldest burial was dated from 2,300 years ago.

Storm clouds made the wheat paddocks look golden.

And rain seemed immanent, although it never came.

We stayed the night in the pub as before. Here are pictures from our July trip. There’s only one pub left in town, The Royal Hotel proudly community owned and operated. $85 a night. Check it out if you’re ever in town. It’s a magnificent building.

Beautiful inside as well as outside. It reminded me slightly of boarding school; there are shared bathroom facilities.

There’s a magnificent staircase; more shades of boarding school. You pay up front and leave by the side door whenever you choose. On our earlier visit that was at dawn. We slept in a bit later this time around.

There’s a bit of town history on display.

Last time we had a double room.

This time it was full up (I think there are only ten rooms on offer) and we could only get a room with twin single beds. The restaurant, The Juke Sea Lake, was full as well which gave it more ambience than last time. Even if it meant a few items were no longer available by the time we got there – no Hopetoun gourmet sausages for us!

We had a comfortable night and then brekky in the main drag. The cafe was doing a roaring trade in bacon and eggs.

We then returned to the lake; this time down the Old Salt Road which gives better views than the viewing platform, although the track down which we went last time has now been closed to the public.

These pictures don’t show its full extent; it’s very large.

I was trying to capture the pink colour; which was hard from a distance but we weren’t keen on getting our boots bogged in the mud again! This gives some idea of the colour.

I clambered through the bush a little way to get these last couple of pictures.

Then we were back on the road, to our next adventure, the Silo Trail!

 

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