Murray River Pink Salt Lake Dinner in Mildura
When flying into Mildura, it is a must to book a window seat as part of your north-west Victorian Murray River experience.
From the oasis of patchwork quilt vineyards and lush agricultural lands to the rose blush salt lakes and desert sands, the view from VA1615 as you descend into the rich fertile lands of Mildura is instagram worthy. What I am most excited about this trip, back to the where I grew up, is the pink salt lakes dinner.
I have witnessed many Mildura sunsets, but the brilliant kaleidoscope of colour - pinks, yellow and orange hues which greeted the guests on arrival to the salt lakes dinner took my breath away. The setting sun, the crunch of crystals under foot, both the backdrop for the feast. Tables perched along the edge of the lakebed laden with sparkling salt, like a diamond encrusted gown.
The pink salt lakes, located just outside Mildura, is the scene for one of rarest dining experiences in the world. Something uniquely special to the Mildura region. The site, a natural saltmarsh and haven for birds, is a working salt mine where the award winning Murray River Pink Salt flakes are produced.
Tapping underground concentrated saline water reserves, brine is pumped through canals into ponds where it forms crystals during summer. The salt is harvested, washed, dried and packaged nearby. It contains no additives or preservatives and is high in minerals, including magnesium and calcium which gives it the gorgeous pink hue it is so famous for. Extracting the salt helps with the environmental problem of salinity destroying farming land. So a win win!
With its history steeped in Italian immigration, Mildura’s cuisine is heavily dominated with the mediterranean fare, and none more so than the feasts prepared by Stefano de Pieri, our chef for the salt lake evening.
Antipasto of locally cured meats and hand rolled breadsticks were passed around and the crowd favourite of zeppoles - deep fried Italian bread stuffed with anchovies. Main platters of rolled porchetta, a rich classic Italian dish was interrupted by the intense sunset changing second by second, each photo better than the last. When the sun gave its final encore and bow, guests could finally settle in for the remainder of the evening, sipping local varietal wines and one of Mildura newest success stories in the food scene - Aqua Botanical, a locally produced water, made entirely from fruit and vegetables. Aqua Botanical have found a way to harvest the naturally occurring water from fruit and vegetables at the same time juice concentrate is made. They utilise every drop of water contained in the fruit and vegetables to create, not only a sustainable product, but water that is fresh and soft on the tastebuds, and as they describe, leaves a silky finish.
The salt dinners are a regular event during the warmer months, when the near perfect conditions create the vibrant crystalised hues. To stay up to date with the next pink salt lake dinner, check www.murrayriversalt.com.au.
Alana Lowes was a guest of Tourism Mildura, Tourism Victoria and Virgin Australia