Almanac Travel: Pink lakes and mounted Land Rovers – a driving guide to Gather Round


Landrover on a Pole


An 8-hour road trip from Melbourne to Adelaide has never held the same allure as the more famous Hume sojourn north. There’s no Slim Dusty tune to extol the virtues of Nhill and the ‘Giant Koala’ would be lucky to measure up to the ‘Big Merino’s’ knee cap. That said, there’s plenty of local nuggets to break the routine if you look beyond the branded roadhouses and endless Wimmera wheat.


Since the Adelaide nuptials of 2005, our tribe has piled into the trusty RAV and hit the Western Highway dozens of times. There’s in-laws on the Fleurieu, the pink ball Test and more recently, Gather Round to tempt us back.


During the toddler phase, we’d leave suburban Melbourne at the crack of dawn to the beat the traffic, only to be foiled by the kids spotting the cruelly placed Maccas playground at Rockbank on Melbourne’s deep outskirts. Kids 1, parents 0.


These days it’s possible to slide past the confected majesty of Kryal Castle, avoid the 18 Ballarat entrance ramps, discuss the visual amenity of wind farms and crack the shits at Beaufort’s unnecessary traffic light, all before our first coffee.


Providing the teens aren’t feral, we barrel straight through Ararat and onto Stawell these days.  It’s many gifts include a conga line of nasty fast-food joints neatly lined up to ensure sibling arguments are maximised.


With bellies loaded and brains caffeinated, it’s onwards through Dadswell Bridge and its aforementioned mid-sized Koala attraction.


Noted avoidables in in the next stretch are an ambitious looking roadside pumpkin stall at the Green Lake and the township of Drung, just because of the name really.


Soon after, we hit Horsham, an expansive regional hub that could do with a few roundabouts to keep things moving. Maybe that’s the point though? Stop here if you go for tidy towns as they have an impressive 7 titles under their belt.


Further on, a Tim Watson drop-punt from Dimboola is the surprisingly magnificent Pink Lake which is, well, very pink and surprisingly magnificent. It’s well worth making a dent in your schedule for a family snap in front of its lunar landscape.


The remaining Victorian leg is punctuated by some mildly impressive Grampian views (at only 340m, heavily signposted Mt Zero seems adequately named) and a chance for the kids to crack the same Kaniva gags as last trip.


The SA border offers some psychological nourishment with only 294km remaining to Adelaide. Whilst the soul destroying 2022 Covid border queues are a distant memory now, several large signs still request that you to stop and dispose of your grubby Victorian fruit. This seems to be a hidden code to keep driving.


Bordertown isn’t really on the border but many like to drop into their gargantuan bakery and miniscule toilet block. Bob Hawke’s childhood digs are there too if you’re into childhood digs.


These days we continue on to the pretty township of Keith for the following reasons;


  1. We have a friend named Keith
  2. A minor fascination with the exact nature of their population number on a welcome sign (1089 five years running).
  3. Tony Modra played some late career footy there
  4. To visit Australia’s most intriguing tourist attraction, the ‘Land Rover on a Pole’.


Large signs for the famed Land Rover will greet you as you enter town but it’s a real case of blink and you’ll miss it.


The question of how the vehicle became to be on the pole will ultimately deliver an uninteresting answer, however some research on Trip Advisor will uncover a post from Lachlan who helpfully advises “it is very important that you don’t assume this is a Land Rover parked on a Polish man”.


Another hour takes you through to Coonalpyn with its unique offering of Australian silo art and Belgian waffles.


The Ait-Touati family from Liege set up their now famous roadside waffle shop in 2007. Their puzzling choice of highway location presents the ultimate risk-reward challenge for the many hungry families that scramble by foot from the toilet block, across the raging Dukes Highway for a serving. It’s worth the effort if you make it but remember to hold your waffles down on the plate as the road trains speed through.





Waffles on the Duke


Excitement levels always rise at the first glimpse of the Murray River at Tailem Bend. Arguably the most impressive section of the famed waterway, its enormous river flats sparkle blue in the afternoon sun to the highway’s left.


At Murray Bridge we cross the Murray over a bridge that’s not named the Murray Bridge.


It’s the home stretch at this point, with family, 9 games of AFL and a pie floater at our fingertips.


Surely there’s a travel song in all of that.




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About Rob Spurr

Rob Spurr is a Melbourne based CFO. He started writing a few stories to avoid home schooling his kids during the COVID lockdown.


  1. Matt Stephens says

    I’ve long harbored the desire to see the Land Rover on a Pole in the flesh. Remains a pipe dream for now, but one day I’ll make it happen. Thanks for the additional inspiration, Rob!

  2. Great story Rob we made the trip Friday a week ago after work with a night at the “Horsham International”.
    Nearly 10 days in we finally got to see Snowtown today.

  3. I had been looking at the map for our upcoming road trip to gather round and thinking gee there’s not much between Melbourne and Adelaide. Your article confirms this is indeed true.

  4. Still beats Jetstar Tim !

  5. Marcus Holt says

    You’ve neglected one of the true highlights of the trip, the Australian Pinball Museum in Nhill. Scores of fully working pinnies from all generations. If you time your trip for the last Saturday of the month you can have unlimited play all day for $20, a brilliant bargain but be warned, RSI of the wrist-risk.
    The LandRover on a pole is underwhelming but the coloured sheep lining the road through Kaniva are pretty cool.

  6. Matt Stephens says

    Can’t believe Marcus Holt is underwhelmed by the Landrover on a Pole. Some people can’t appreciate high art.

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