We went through the regular check in process and enjoyed a welcoming cool drink before going to our cabins to commence our seven-day cruise. Duane and Miles had a twin cabin on the Starboard side and Liz and Roy shared a double cabin on the Port side. There was not a vast amount of room in our cabins but enough for our needs, including a small ensuite with toilet and shower.
On the first evening we enjoyed a welcoming dinner and met our fellow passengers. Our table included Paul and Annette, Jamie and Margaret and Wendy and Susan.
Our first night was rather cramped, as we are not used to a double bed (having a Queen size bed at home). The paddle steamer moored at the riverbank during the night and there are certainly no rough seas in the river.
|The Proud Mary - a smaller Paddle steamer passing by.|
When we stopped in Murray Bridge I was able to buy a neck support cushion as I found the pillows a bit difficult to wrangle.
We enjoyed a short excursion in a small boat to have a close up view of the cliff faces on the riverbank. We saw the little mud nests made by the swallows and the crevices that provide homes for the cockatoos, whistling kites and peregrine falcons. We also saw a variety of water birds, spiders, skinks and flora of the area.
|An approaching rain storm|
There were a few organised activities on the Murray Princess. These include some trivia sessions, bingo, a race activity, a talk from a local historian and a fancy dress night.
There was also a side trip to the Barossa Valley, where Duane and Miles learned how to taste wines. I am sure Miles will go back to the soft drink but not so sure about Duane.
While at the Barossa we saw the Herzig Family tree. This old hollow tree was actually lived in by a pioneer family, who even had two babies in the tree house during their tenure.
On another day we sailed up river to negotiate Lock One. This was memorable as the weir next to the Lock was a favoured fishing spot for hundreds of cormorants and pelicans. We spent the night moored at Blanchetown and visited another small local winery within walking distance from our mooring. The next morning we again negotiated Lock One, but this time from the upper side.
It was sad to see the amount of carp in the river. This introduced species competes with the native fish and muddies the water making it difficult for the native water plants also. Duane did his bit to remove carp from the river.
On a positive note the wetlands along the sides of the river were full and healthy. Although we were surrounded by still water we barely saw or heard a mosquito. This was explained in that the wetlands were healthy and therefore the wildlife eat most of the mosquito larvae. We didn’t notice many flies either, but it was cool and windy.
The boat moved very slowly so there was plenty of time to sit and watch to world go by or talk or read a book. There was no television, and very little computer or telephone access. Miles enjoyed the fitness equipment of the sundeck and we all took the chance to stretch our legs whenever we tied up to the bank.
|A cormorant awaiting a fish dinner|
|A nest of native bees|
|A canoe tree|
On our second last day we enjoyed a visit to a shearing shed, a barbeque tea ashore and a nocturnal tour of the farm spotlighting local wildlife, including an albino kangaroo. We also saw red and grey kangaroos, a hairy nosed wombat, a tawny frogmouth, and hundreds of glowing spider eyes in the darkness. On the following morning we enjoyed a walk on shore to see the animal tracks that had been on the bank overnight as well as investigating some of the local bush tomatoes and other flora.
On our final full day aboard we sailed downriver to an archaeological dig, a site where aboriginal habitation has occurred for millions of years. There 23 feet depth of campfire ashes had been sieved to reveal the diet and the changes in practise of the local indigenous people over the centuries. It was interesting to see the rock carvings and hear the local guides interpretation of these markings. Apparently there used to be dolphins in the river (nearly 200 km up river).
Our Captain also told us that there had been a fossil uncovered near Blanchetown recently that was a skull of a creature, like a crocodile, that would have been bigger than a blue whale! Amazing! There are fossils in the cliff face all long the river, with shells and sea anemones.
|Cockatoos in the willows|
After lunch we enjoyed wet and wild rides on the boat's tender.
|Liz about to get very wet|
|The P S Murray Princess viewed from the tender|
|The tender about to cross the wake of the paddleboat|
We arrived back in Mannum exactly one week after boarding the P S Murray Princess.
We enjoyed a long drive home stopping overnight in Horsham.
A peaceful and restful holiday.