On the Mighty Murray

Our campsite is one of the good ones and is in Moama on the NSW side of the state line – the river. This was a rare day off driving ‘cos we have two nights here. Our plan was to wander over the bridge across the state line into VIctoria to look at Echuca and investigate the old historic river boat docks.

Murray-DarlingEchuca was once a great trading centre with paddle steamers ferrying logs and bales of wool along the Mighty Murray. We were somewhat surprised to learn that the industrial revolution in Europe placed a great demand on Australian wool. It is apparently the done thing to refer to the Murray River as the Mighty Murray. Together with the Darling River, which to me looks even mightier, it drains the massive area of the Murray-Darling basin, essentially the entire bottom right hand corner of Australia – I think, about 17% of it – and please remember that Australia is about the same size as North America. It’s a huge area.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe level of water in the Murray varies dramatically by season, so much so that the timber boat docks are built on three levels to accommodate docking and loading with the river at various heights. The river flooded very badly in 2022, the worst flood since the 19th century, and much of the surrounding land, including our current campsite, was inundated. I have this to blame, largely, for the lack of Wi-fi connectivity over the last three days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs luck would have it, we arrived at the historic boat dock approaching 10:00 just before a 1-hour river trip on a restored paddle steamer, the Pevensey, was due to depart at 10:15. Well, it would’ve been rude not to – we bought tickets and enjoyed our 1-hour boat ride past both historic paddle steamers and modern gin palaces, most of which seemed to have a hot tub on board. Well, if you’re going to be ostentatious, do it properly. There was a log barge demonstrating how logs were ferried along the river, placed horizontally across the barge overhanging each side.

We’d had a glass of Chardonnay each on the boat – the sun was over the yardarm somewhere on the planet – but now it was time for some serious refreshment. We repaired to the American Hotel where, as well as having my now favourite Balter XPA on tap, they served a very creditable grilled Freemantle octopus. Yummo!

We called in to a bottle shop – supermarkets are not permitted to sell alcohol, you have to go to a bottle shop but there’s normally one right outside a supermarket – to top up our red wine supplies. After today we have just one more night on the road so we don’t need too much. Lucky, really, ‘cos I had to carry it back into New South Wales across the bridge. I felt a bit like a smuggler.

Posted in 2024-01 Australia