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I live in a country that has a lot of desert - huge tracks of red sand, stretching for thousands of inhospitable miles with shimmering heat haze the only immediately visible thing. Ironically, the first time I was ever in a desert was when I was 23 and travelling around the US. I was fascinated by the desert colors, by the vivid blue sky and I remember turning to my husband and saying, ‘you know, we really should see some outback Australia.’
So we did. And I fell in love all over again with the harsh but beautiful desert country and a favorite place of mine is Mildura. This town has the vast outback of Australia in its back yard but its front garden is the mighty Murray River. The visionary pioneers recognized the power of the river not only to carry wool to the big cities on paddle steamers but thought to use the water for irrigation. Their drive and determination turned part of the desert into the fruit basket of Australia. During post war migration, it also attracted a large Italian community and today, Mildura, and its surrounding towns, are a slice of the “Mediterranean in the Outback.”
Citrus groves and vineyards, endless sunshine and sandy river beaches combine with fabulous gourmet food to make this part of the world a ‘must visit.’ What’s not to love about a ‘luxury houseboat’ holiday, chugging along the river at a leisurely pace and calling into world class wineries and restaurants? It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it, right? And at night, when I relaxing in the hot tub on the top deck of the boat under a canopy of stars that goes on forever I just KNEW I had to set a book in this amazing part of the world.
It also got me thinking about the other ‘fruit baskets’ around the world that I have visited such as the Okanagan Valley in BC, Canada, the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, and California in the US. Do you have a favorite place that combines fresh produce, fabulous food and gorgeous scenery?
Fiona Lowe writes for Harlequin Medical Romance. Filled with great food, scenery and a totally gorgeous hero, Her Brooding Italian Surgeon is her 12th novel and is out now and available at eharlequin, Amazon and The Book Depository. Find out more at http://www.fionalowe.com