On the Murray Princess

Monday, 8th May, 2017
Tuesday, 9th May, 2017
Wednesday, 10th May, 2017
Thursday, 11th May, 2017

Monday 8th May, 2017

River Scene photograph

The Torrens River, Adelaide

Drop Cap e had a good breakfast at the hotel this morning, then finished packing and left the bags for later pickup. We walked out with Leigh and Kyra along both sides of the river, as far as the weir and back, about three kilometres all up.

Rotunda photograph

Old and New in Adelaide

Drop Cap hey are rebuilding and renovating the area beside the Festival Theatre and river bank, so it was not quite so picturesque as it was last time in Adelaide, but the black swans and ducks were dabbling, pedalos and boat cruises were on the water and it was a pleasant walk.

Travel group by the River photograph

Mac, Leigh and Kyra by the River

 Rundle Mall photograph

Piggies in Rundle Mall

Drop Cap fterwards we walked up to Rundle Mall where we had lunch at Subway in Myer's food hall, then separated on our own ploys. Rundle Mall was the first pedestrian precinct in Australia I believe, and has some really eclectic (or eccentric) public art. I particularly enjoyed the bronze pigs foraging in bronze garbage bins.

Beehive Building photograph

"Beehive" Building, Rundle Mall

Drop Cap e found the Tourist Information Office and picked up some brochures and ideas for our last four days in Adelaide. Then, by way of the lovely old "Beehive" building at the head of the Mall, strolled back to the Mercure to wait for our pickup.


Murray Princess 2 photograph

PS Murray Princess moored at Mannum

Drop Cap e arrived at Mannum, home port of the fabulous Murray Princess and were shown to our tidgy cabin, quite adequate though, good bathroom, single beds, wardrobe space and room to store the cases as well. It opens directly on the boarding deck with lovely views of the river from the window.

Cabin 21 photograph

Our Tiny Cabin

Drop Cap here are four floors of cabins, one under ours with no windows (Raisa was in one of those, poor thing) and two above ours. There is a lift but we used the stairs for the exercise.

Paddlewheel lounge photograph

Paddlewheel Lounge

Drop Caphere was a lounge at the end of our deck, with complimentary coffee, tea and chocolate and biscuits anytime, also a souvenir shop. It looked out on the stern paddle, so spectacular and different. Spiral staircases connected it with the lounge/library above it, which was a quiet and comfortable place to sit and read.

Mac on Board photograph

Mac on Board the Murray Princess

Drop Cap he restaurant was on the top floor, with a lounge bar beside it, usable when the dining room was not open.

A very precipitous stair led from this floor to the Sun Deck, very comfortable and set out with wicker type chairs and tables. We spent quite a lot of time here, during the trip.

Sunset on Murray photograph

First Night on the Murray

Drop Cap uring dinner the boat pulled out with no fuss and very little motion to head up the river for our overnight mooring. Dinner was delicious, Mac had minestrone, pork belly and no dessert (he did indulge in a lurid red cocktail though) and I had beef strips, kingfish and berries in a chocolate cup, all very nice and not too much. We shared a bottle of wine with Kyra and Leigh and enjoyed the meal.

Drop Cap fter dinner we returned to our cabin, I had intended to read my Kindle but when I opened it up it told me to charge it. So I put it on charge and went to bed. It has been a very long and lovely day, nearly a full moon and the weather is perfect!

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Tuesday 9th May, 2017

Murray River photograph

Along the Murray River

Drop Cap had rather patchy sleep on a hard bed (although that is not unusual for me) but it was not too bad. The breakfast buffet was terrific, the usual full bacon, egg three ways, sausage, hashbrown type extravaganza, but plenty of croissants, toast, fruit and yoghurt. Must practice restraint however!

Murray River houseboats photograph

Murray River Houseboats

Murray River photograph

Along the Murray River

Drop Cap e trogged gently up the river, spectacular in the lovely sunny weather, passing lots of very large houseboats moored on the banks. I don't know if they were hire boat places (rather remote ones, if so) or the river equivalent of caravan parks. They looked very comfortable, but we did not see any of them actually sailing on the river.

Paddle Wheel photograph

Paddle Chunking up the River

Drop Cap e had a talk on the early days of the Murray River and its pioneers and characters by the First Officer, Graham, which was interesting, although I have seen and read "All the Rivers Run".

Macs and Raisa photograph

Macs and Raisa

Drop Cap uring the morning we caught up with Raisa and her friends. We are all having a great time. Lunch, however, was not great, rather small, and left me at least feeling a bit hungry. Still, better than stuffing ourselves.

Murray Cliffs photograph

Murray Cliffs Again

Willow Banks photograph

Willows on the Bank

Proud Mary photograph

Proud Mary, the Competition

Approaching Lock photograph

Approaching Lock No. 1

Blanchetown Weir photograph

Blanchetown Weir

Drop Cap he excitement of the day was going through Blanchetown Lock and Weir No. 1. I remember going to see this from the road during our road trip some twenty odd years ago. It was very interesting to go through it on a boat, especially such a large one. We went under the two bridges at Blanchetown and moored on the other side for an off boat excursion.

Moored at Blanchetown photograph

Murray Princess Moored at Blanchetown

Blanchetown photograph

Along the road to the Winery

Drop Cap e went to a Winery, called Burk Salter, just a kilometre or so up the road. A bus was provided but we walked along with many others of the able bodied passengers. I don't know how less able passengers get along on the "Murray Princess", there are so many stairs, although I suppose the lift helps.

Winery photograph

Rosemary at Burk Salter Winery

Drop Cap urk Salter Winery was just out of Blanchetown and the walk passed some rustic and rusting shacks and a tiny Lutheran church and graveyard. The winery was well set out and they divided us into two groups. One toured the vines and talked to the winegrower and the other tasted the wines, then they changed places. The winery was heavy on red wines and, although setting out cheese and crackers etc to have with them, they didn't tempt us to buy, although Kyra bought a bottle of Cabernet Merlot.

Drop Cap onight we had "happy hour" in the Lounge Bar, supposedly with complimentary nibbles and cut price drinks, but although we had a stool by the bar and a glass of sparkling wine, no nibbles eventuated. At the end of the hour two servers appeared at a wide interval and offered trays of tiny nibbles to the same tables of people, totally ignoring those of us sitting at the bar. Not really impressed.

Dinner was OK and then they had the running of the "Murray Cup", an allegedly fun game, but we went back and read our books instead.

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Wednesday 10th May, 2017

Murray Cliffs photograph

Cliffs Along the Murray River

Drop Cap e headed back down through the Blanchetown Lock again, paddle chunking, as we made our way gently back down the river. The scenery was just as spectacular this way, the massive sandstone cliffs bracketing us as we slid through the gorges.

After breakfast some of us gathered in the Dining Room for the first heat of the Murray Princess Great Trivia Quiz. As I am a trivia fanatic I gathered Mac and Enid, a lady at our table who was alone and we formed ourselves into Rosemary and Co. The questions were not all that hard, although Ii admit, they are easy if you know the answers. We consulted and guessed a couple, but ended up with nineteen out of twenty correct. The second part will be tomorrow afternoon. I always enjoy these quizzes.

Swan Reach photograph

Swan Reach Museum Sign

Drop Cap efore lunch we arrived at the town of Swan Reach, an historic Murray River town, one of the pioneering riverboat stops. We were supposed to have a walking tour with guides, but ended up just walking through the streets to the Museum, a very extensive local museum with lots of interesting exhibits, not least the aboriginal relics. They had very comprehensive history of the local indigenous people, which was good to see in a predominantly white area.

Swan Reach photograph

Swan Reach Town House

Drop Cap ome of the houses and other buildings were very handsome, built of the local sandstone (the cliffs were extensively quarried, it seems, even for roadfill. On the way back to the boat, Enid's husband picked up several shell fossils from the road and showed them to us. The cliffs are full of fossils, having once been a reef under the sea. Just being able to pick fossils up off the street was amazing!

Drop Cap unch was a good buffet, lots of cold meats and salads, and a couple of hot dishes. During the meal we unmoored and slipped back into the river.


Murray Cliffs photograph

Near Big Bend

Drop Cap t about 1600 we arrived at Big Bend, a spectacular horseshoe bend with the highest cliffs on the Murray. Here we all disembarked for our Australiana experience, at the Sunnydale Woolshed.

Leigh and Kyra photograph

Leigh and Kyra

Drop Cap e piled into covered wagon style vans (drawn by 4WDs, not horses) to arrive at the rather rustic surrounds of the old woolshed, where we had an entertaining display of sheep shearing, sheep racing (we were invited to bid at an auction for a sheep - proceeds to the wildlife refuge on site).

Rosemary and Mac photograph

Rosemary and Mac

Shearing photograph

Shearing Demonstration

Drop Cap aisa bid and won one of the racing sheep. Then they raced the sheep down a short track and the winner took all. Or at least half, the other half went to the refuge. And to keep it the winner had to hold the money out at arms length and have it whipped out of his hand by the owner with a stockwhip. We looked around the refuge, there were kangaroos, wombats and an emu with a twisted beak, waiting to be released back into the wild. An entertaining afternoon.

Drop Cap n returning to the boat we gathered up jackets and came back to the bush barbecue site on the banks of the river, where we indulged in some really nice cider and a large meal of barbecued meats of all kinds and lots of salads. Really good.

Riverbank Tree photograph

Tree on the Riverbank

Drop Cap he barbecue site was purpose built by the Captain Cook Cruise people and was quite effective, a circular palisade of light bamboo or reeds, open to the sky with a huge fire in the middle. There was music and a raucous bush band performed by the crew with makeshift instruments (noisemakers really) but lots of fun.

Drop Cap fter dinner we gathered back into the wagons and went off into the darkness spotlighting for nocturnal animals. We saw kangaroos, emus and a tawny frogmouth but it was rather a rough ride across paddocks etc. Still it was a good night all told.

The moon is at the full and in the absence of light around us it was blazing. I woke up in the middle of the night and it was so light I looked out of my window to see the moon, not only in the sky, but reflected on the river, and just so bright. It was magical.

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Thursday 11th May, 2017

Murray Billabong photograph

Billabong on the Murray River

Drop Cap fter breakfast this morning we joined the Captain, a young man called Nick, for a leisurely stroll along the bank and down to a billabong, a very picturesque mini lake with pelicans, swans, and other waterfowl, along with the usual cockatoos and a kookaburra. He talked mostly about the boat, all the men wanted to know the technical details, but it was a lovely morning and it was pleasant just to wander.

Ngaut Ngaut photograph

At Ngaut Ngaut Aboriginal Conservation Site

Drop Cap e cruised off down the river past the magnificent cliffs until we reached the Aboriginal Conservation Park of Ngaut Ngaut. Here we had the choice of climbing up the rather precipitous steps to the top of the cliff with one of the local guides or taking the easy base walk with another guide. Kyra and Leigh opted for the cliff, Mac and I for the base. I didn't really trust my knee or my balance.

Cave Signs Ngaut Ngaut photograph

Cave Signs at Ngaut Ngaut

Drop Cap he base walk was really interesting, the local elder who led it was very experienced and was very entertaining. Our group was quite large so had a leader at both ends and there was quite a lot of repartee flying back and forth. They showed us the signs and symbols carved into the cliffs over thousands of years, which gave directions to visiting groups and told them where the game was located and what was available in the area. Given the proximity of the river they must have done pretty well, rather than the desert dwellers further north. I bought a locally made necklace and earrings in my favourite turquoise colours as a souvenir, as I really prefer buying something than just giving a money donation, but I can see me wearing them.

MP Tender photograph

Murray Princess Tender

Drop Cap fter lunch today we joined our bosun in the ship's tender, for a fast and scenic scoot down the river. I always love these, it was not quite a jetboat but it did go pretty fast.

Murray Princess photograph

Murray Princess in Motion

Drop Cap It gave us the opportunity to take photos of the ship as it was going along, and get the whole thing into shot. Despite the sun being in rather the wrong place we got some shots of the Murray Princess paddling along, it is so picturesque. We also got some shots of Leigh and Kyra doing the boat ride as well.

MP Tender photograph

Leigh and Kyra in the Tender

Drop Cap fter this we adjourned to the dining room again for the second part of our Trivia Quiz. This time it was a little trickier, but we didn't get many wrong. In fact, at the Captain's Dinner tonight the results were announced and we won! They said it was the highest score by far. No prizes though, not even a free drink!

Sunset Last Night photograph

Sunset on our Last Night

Drop Cap e adjourned to dress up a bit for the Captain's Dinner tonight. Kyra knocked on the door and said "Come out and look at this!" It was the sunset, absolutely sensational. I took one look and dived back for my camera. The colour in the sky, reflected in the river was just amazing, I was so glad Kyra told us.

Sunset Last Night photograph

Sunset on our Last Night

Drop Cap ur last supper tonight, the Captain's Seafood Buffet extravaganza. We had a sparkling wine and nibbles and introductions and farewells from all the crew, then the lights were dimmed, and atmospheric mist poured out of the buffet area . The curtains were raised and the buffet was revealed. Whole salmon and sea trout, oysters both natural and kilpatrick, mussels, prawns, battered fish pieces and prawns and salads. It was good, even Mac had some although not all that fond of fish. There was a separate carvery area which had hams and turkey if seafood was not preferred so everyone was catered for. We shared a bottle of wine with Leigh and Kyra and enjoyed the meal.

Drop Cap o ends our cruise. It has been very enjoyable, all four of us have had a great time. There was lots to do, and lots of time just to relax and let the river and the spectacular scenery flow by. We didn't feel the need to be joined at the hip all the time but spent a lot of time together, and did our own thing at others.

There were a couple of sour notes but we did not let them spoil our enjoyment. I have no problem with bar drinks and cocktails being charged for but I felt that wine at dinner could have been included in the price like it is on the Indian Pacific and the APT river cruises. However none of us are big drinkers so it didn't really worry us.

Drop Cap omorrow after breakfast we dock back at Mannum and go our separate ways. Kyra and Leigh and Raisa and her friends are heading straight for the airport, while we are returning to the Mercure and four days in Adelaide. It has all gone so fast, but we have seen so much, in lovely weather. A great short break.

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