Sunday February 8
In Halls Gap, there are kangaroos everywhere; over the past few days they have become a common fixture in the landscape. Before we left Halls Gap, we headed to the Park Information Centre to enquire about fires in the area. We were told that the road we were planning to take was now clear though there were fires in that area on Saturday. Yesterday was the hottest day on record in many areas of Victoria. It was an extremely bad day for bush (forest) fires across the state, many of which were still burning.
As we left the Grampians National Park, we stopped at Reeds Lookout, but it was very cool and windy so we did not stop for long; this was our last stop in the Grampians and such a contrast in weather to yesterday. Leaving the hills and heading towards Horsham, we immediately drove into a very flat farmland area as dry as a bone. Just outside Horsham, we saw the local fire brigade (volunteer fire fighters) working on the remains of a bush fire. We also saw a house that was completely burned out. While driving through Horsham, we learned from the radio that there were a good number of fires around the area.
We stopped at the local bakery to buy ourselves a sandwich for lunch. We thought that the service was slow until we heard that the bakery staff was making 200 sandwiches for the fire fighters. Later, passing through the small community of Nhill, we first smelled, and then saw the smoke. The atmosphere was quite hazy for a while. We heard on the radio that there was a fire in the Little Dessert National Park just to the south of us and although the fire was a long way off, the smoke was drifting towards us.
We then continued along highway A8 towards our destination for the night, Murray Bridge in South Australia. We picked a very good motel quite by chance; a Golden Chain motel called the Oval. The proprietor was very friendly and she recommended a great place to eat; Dundees Hotel. We headed out early and had to wait a while as the Sunday Buffet started at 6:00pm. Our watch said 6:15pm but we had changed time zone and had to put our watch back by half an hour! A beer helped pass the time! The meal was well worth the wait.
Back at the motel the bush fires in Victoria were the major TV news. As of Sunday p.m., the death toll had reached over sixty people and was expected to increase, and it is really sad to see how many people have lost everything including family members.