This time next week we will wend our way from Melbourne to Echuca to spend four days on The Icon, a riverboat on the Murray River. We’re meeting family in Melbourne and finally doing something two sisters and myself chatted about doing some years ago. It took one person to get serious about the idea and I, for one, am so pleased she decided to be the Nike woman and Just Do It. In preparation we’ve shared menu suggestions and made a shopping list and I am wondering whether the large pantry and refrigeration storage will be sufficient.
I am a fan of audio books and our local library has a good selection which borrowers can download to MP3 players. The travel to and from work has taken on a lighter tone as I’ve listened to tales of the Murray River told in voices and accents of the locals. It has whet my appetite to experience the river while exploring historic places and seeing new parts of Australia.
The riverboat we’ll be puttering along in is a far cry from the historic paddle steamers of yesteryear but my research tells me that we will see a few paddle steamers on the river in and around Echuca. Apparently the Emmylou is the only wood fired paddle steamer remaining in the world and she’s fuelled by local red gums; renewable forestry, apparently. I bet you’ve guessed that she was named after the American country and western singer, Emmylou Harris.
Isn’t she beautiful. Our boat, The Icon, will be too comfortable to get into life-on-the-river mojo, and while we may miss the chug and thrust of the Emmylou, The Icon has a spa pool on her rear deck.
Browsing the web for interesting snippets about Echuca I found this photo of the old river port it used to be. Makes me feel quite dreamy and nostalgic thinking how simple, yet hard, life would have been back then. Pioneers were never bored or idle because they paid attention to the small details of their lives. Kept the boiler stoked, replenished fresh water supplies, bartered and traded up and down the river and enjoyed a sense of community and caring we no longer nurture.
Echuca – A Future in the Past. How aptly it sums up what I glean from the photo.
I’m hoping we are able to capture some essence of the history as we explore the Murray River. We pick up our riverboat at Echuca which was once Australia’s largest inland port during the late 1800’s. It is still an authentic working river port and home to the largest collection of Paddle Steamers in the world and the oldest wooden hulled paddleboat still operating – The P.S Adelaide.
The information brochures assume people will be river boating along the Murray in Summer time where we can enjoy ‘the sun-drenched Murray River region. Soak up the outdoor lifestyle, discover iconic national parks and explore the Murray’s rich pioneer heritage.” Sounds idyllic. We’ll be on the river in Winter … I’ll be packing my thermals! Maybe my hot water bottle too.