We headed off from Balranald at about 9am and drove through Mildura and were amazed at the size of the largely commercial vineyards. The countryside was very green and the road in good condition. We were amused by the constant warnings about falling asleep at the wheel but after driving for over 3 hours on a dead straight road I appreciated the value of such warnings. Thank God for Chris’ 50th Birthday soundtrack on the iPod because the Cricket was offering nothing to keep us awake.

Once again we paid homage to the Golden Arches by stopping for a “tick” meal at Renmark before heading into the last hour of our journey.

We arrived at Tanunda and searched for our accommodation. The name “Hall Manor” conjured up images of a small historical cottage in a vineyard, behind a grand old manor house. I pictured a breakfast basket overflowing with local produce, what I got was very different!

We were staying in suburbia and our “suite”(like the other two “suites” ironically all named after rare gemstones) could only be described as an old, fairly rundown flat (although clean) out of back of an equally run down larger 1950s/60s concrete house. The “full breakfast provisions” for THREE days consisted of 4 tiny pkts of cereal, a loaf of homebrand bread in the freezer, small packets of butter and condiments, small bottles of juice and milk and 4 small apples that looked like they had been sitting in the fridge for about a week. The “welcoming bottle of port and chocolates” consisted of two chocolates and a small bottle of decanted port of dubious quality.

I was shattered. The two pictures on the Internet showed the bedroom ( which was large) and the verandah which appeared to promise views across the vineyards but instead looked out on the next soulless “suite” separated only by a screen of pathetic grass matting. I kept apologizing to Chris not just for the lack of judgement but also for extending our stay by an additional night!

We set off into town in the hope of collecting some nice provisions for dinner but alas we were again disappointed by the fact that most of the town (except for Foodland, a Charity clothing shop and a few homemaker shops) was closed for the holidays. With almost all of the restaurants closed, one pub closed and the other almost deserted and offering little excitement by way of culinary delights for dinner, we decided to self cater, falling back on the old favourite, Mexican. We thought we could wash it down with a nice local drop (which we had to purchase over the counter at the aforementioned pub) but alas, it too only brought disappointment. It was the roughest sem/Sav either of us had ever drunk, most ending up down the sink.

We comforted ourselves with “Driving Lessons” and fell into bed awakened sporadically by the local possum colony and gusts of wind that suggested the ghosts of (disappointed ) tourists past.