From my northern suburb, it doesn't take long to drive out of town. Left out of my crescent onto a short avenue, then right up a long wide street until you hit the highway. Turn left and Australia is yours.
An hour saw us dropping Goldie at the Seymour kennel. Another two and the Murray River was in sight. On the way, stopped at a couple of small towns for cold drinks and lunch. At one stop, I saw a hastily-chalked sign outside the only store in town. The sign read: BIG YABBIES BEHIND SHOP. I decided it was an advertisement rather than a warning but I didn't buy any as the ice-cooler was already full.
The camping ground was in a small town just north of the Murray River, on a lake and protected from wind by a ring of magnificent ancient pine trees. Mature garden beds followed pathways and bordered sweeping lawns. Ducks wandered around. I pitched the tent five metres from the edge of the lake.
We stayed there two days. Two weeks would have been better.
We didn't eat until around eight, when the shadows were lengthening. It was still 35 degrees. I had packed two frozen curries, leftover from Christmas, and all we had to do was to heat the curries - a chicken and a beef - and boil some rice. Rice first onto the little single burner camp stove, then off to swell while the curries heated. Curry tastes great served on rice in the open air next to a lake with ducks.
By day we chased the shadows around the lawns, swam, read, watched the birds and ducks, walked up and down the main street of the town, had a very cold beer in the air-conditioned front bar of the local pub, walked around the lake in the relative cool of early morning and late evening.
It hit 41 degrees at about three in the afternoon.
Mid-evening. Sun golden, molten in the west.
Too hot for pasta? Never. Fettucine cooked on the stove, then simply folded through with a can of tuna, a couple of chopped tomatoes and some cheese.
And some very cold beer from the pub.
See? It wasn't about the river, or the lake, or the birds, or any of that. It was about proximity to Very Cold Beer.