is where the drought starts. Along the road to Renmark.
Didn't get there. The area north of Bendigo and the Goulburn Valley seemed pretty depressed, with the irrigation paddocks brown and the orchards looking very dry. Yet the orchards and vineyards around Mildura were quite lush. I'm not sure how the annual water allocation business works, and whether the Mildura area actually got some water whereas the upstream areas appeared to get none.
The upstream water users sold their water, some to the downstream users and some to the environmental water holder. Because the Darling is dry, all SA's water needs to come from the Murray, and that combined with entitlements sold downstream means the river is running very high in a drought year. This causes angst to those with low security entitlements or who sold their water and now rely on the temporary water purchase. They want their water back.... Water politics 101.
The rainfall this year dropped off sharply north of Ouyen; last time I looked Ouyen was somewhere around the 30th percentile for the year to date (probably a bit lower now) whereas Mildura was at near-record levels. The Wimmera and south Mallee actually did OK this year.
There's a further sharp divide (very visible from the air in August) across a line in the Mildura area about 5-10km west of the Calder Highway - this seems to mark the path of a local heavy storm in May which dropped 30mm or so in the areas it crossed. West of there is where the really extreme conditions are - some places well under 100mm for the year.
Of course, Mildura is also being regularly hit by dust coming from further north and west.