The Lake 2012: Day 0: It’s a Bloody Long Drive!

Toyota Troopy 4WD + the balloon on a trailer

They say that every journey starts with a single step & my first step to get to Mildura was getting to the Picture This Ballooning shed before 6am to pick up the Toyota Troopy 4WD & balloon I was taking up to The Lake. Fortunately our Operations Manager “Hendo” had already packed the gear in the Troopy, prepared the balloon & tanks on the trailer and hooked everything up. All I had to do was throw in my stuff & drive off. Fantastic! Thanks Hendo :)

So at about 06:15am I left the shed & started the long 606km (377 mile) drive up to Lake Cullulleraine, near Mildura. Aside from a few of the longer/larger hills, the Troopy managed to keep up with the 100kph & 110kph speed limits on the highways all the way out despite towing a trailer. I made a few stops for bio breaks & one to put some more diesel in the tank but otherwise it was point the noise towards Mildura and keep driving. While not the quietest or smoothest vehicle to drive over long distances, I had a good collection of aviation & science podcasts to listen to and was able to stay focused & alert for the whole journey.

Watching the terrain change to flat, wide, open areas and the green slowly disappear was quite fascinating as the route moved from coastal city up into the hills to Bendigo (1,000′ elevation) then back down onto the inland plains on the way to Mildura (170′ elevation). Once you get out to Mildura, you’re in “The Mallee” area and the ground becomes brown/red dirt over limestone with dunes of sand/dirt over generally flat terrain.

Approaching some Silos

Making a pitt stop for vehicle & driver

Eventually I arrived in Mildura & topped off the tanks before heading 1/2 hour down the road towards Adelaide to Lake Cullulleraine and the camp ground where I will be staying for the next 8 nights. I arrived about 2:30pm after over 8 hours of driving, claimed a bunk and caught up with the rest of the group who are here to fly balloons. While some I already knew, many are new faces so it will be a chance to meet many new balloonatics :)

The weather looks a bit windy to begin with but should settle into some great weather for flying as the week progresses. Watch this space :)

At the Hattah Lakes Store you’re a long way from most other places

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I’ve claimed my space! :)

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