Day 2. Narrandera to Renmark


The Renmark Hotel and red Alfa

In yesterday’s post on the start of our trip back to Perth we ended up at the Art Deco Criterion Hotel in Narrandera.  We are driving the new to us Alfa GT back and intend to stay at as many interesting places as possible, so you will get comments on the car as well as places we stay.

Back to our departure from the Criterion Hotel.  Breakfast was good, with cereals, fresh fruit and a selection of toasts and conserves, and it was served in beautiful surroundings, I really enjoyed our short stay there.  By the time we got away it was 9:00am and already over 40*c.  The little bit of news we have heard is of a heat cell locked in the centre of Australia and fires in Tasmania, so far the journey has been hot and promises to stay that way for some time.  The Alfa’s water temperature gauge has not moved from 90*C for the whole trip and the dual zone air conditioning is fabulous, we have been comfortable all the way with no hint of the scorching outside temperatures, except when you open the door.

Our destination today is the Art Deco Renmark Hotel.  In getting there we will leave the Murrumbidgee irrigation district and move into the Murray River area.  We will also traverse NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

The irrigated fruit and vegetables of the Murrumbidgee area soon gave way to semi arid desert with tumbleweeds blowing across the roads.  The roads turned into mirages, but there was also real moisture as the tar started to melt.  It was damn hot out there with nothing much to see.  I had such a romantic mental image of Mildura as a riverboat town and centre of fine produce, but that was not to be realised.  I found myself in the Saturday afternoon heat trapped between the concrete boxes of Coles and K Mart and frankly was glad to leave town.  We were now in Victoria for a short section of our trip, soon to entre South Australia where the fruit police took my only chilli off us!  The drive was hot, but we soon arrived in Renmark at what we thought was about 5:45pm, but there is a time difference between NSW and SA so we had an extra half hour to settle into the hotel.

The location was great positioned on a sweeping curve of the Murray River.  It was Australia’s first community owned hotel and is run something like a cross between an RSL club and a Bendigo Bank.  Shareholders get credits, deals and discounts.  The restaurant was similar to those we had visited in RSL clubs.  Efficient, well priced and welcoming to all.  We found the mix of birthday parties, children and bright lights a bit much, so chose an outside balcony table, much to the disbelief of the cockney waiter who only dreamt of going back to London and falling into some snow.  The food was high quality and well presented.  I chose to go back in time and had oysters and a filet mignon, Cathy shared the oysters with me and has a hot rock meat trio.  Her meal came out on a very hot rock and the diners have to cook it themselves.  Fewer compliments can be offered about the hotel itself.   The upper stories of the hotel have not as yet been renovated for use, so accommodation was in the 1960’s extension which had seen little care and attention, it was a bit like traveling back in time, with old fittings and fixtures, including a noisy wall banger air conditioner.  The after dinner walk along the banks of the river was special, so Renmark does have some fond memories.

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