The Springs of Mataranka

We left the jam packed campsite at Newcastle Waters to make the relatively short drive to the Mataranka Homestead Caravan Park. The usual kerfuffle of finding your own powered site but at least we are ensconced. It’s hot again, 32º in the shade and there are quite a few unhappy kids about not enjoying sitting in hot sun while their tents slowly baste them.

Would you believe the same musical group, Repeat Offenders, is still performing here. I thought that they would have gone to that great concert stage in the sky by now but, alas, not to be. We thought we would lash out and buy Saturday night dinner at Jeannie’s Kitchen restaurant (at least we know who we can blame if things go wrong)

The empty stage waiting the return of Repeat Offenders

The number of travellers heading south seems to be a never-ending stream. It’s almost as if Darwin has been bombed again. A few travelling north but certainly a large crowd here at Mataranka. We will stay another night here before deciding our next move. It’s a bit to hot to go for a swim at the moment and my AF is playing up a bit so I may have to sit this one out.

No social distancing at Mataranka Thermal Springs

Back to Port

This morning we set sail at 7.30 a.m. to start the relatively short trip back to the Port of Echuca while we all partook of breakfast. Once again your choice of continental or cooked (or both). The captain (James) and crew – Jeff the engineer, Jo our go to lady and Greg the chef were outstanding. They were all warm and friendly and made us all feel welcome. Our fellow travellers were warm and witty and eager to learn of our travels within Australia while we heard of their travels overseas. All in all, it was a pleasure to meet them and have their company over the last three days. We cannot recommend the PS Emmylou experience highly enough – a truly memorable experience even for those amongst that had done extensive overseas travel.

We were rather sad to depart when we left the vessel at 9.30 a.m. to meet up with Shaz and Paul to return to their home for one last night of hospitality before we head back home tomorrow. It’s been a great break topped off with a great cruise. Till next time …bye

Last Full Day on the Emmylou

On board the PS Emmylou

This morning we left our mooring and spent all day on the PS Emmylou steaming back up the river toward Echuca. It was a great day on board very relaxing with all the passengers mingling and being spoilt rotten with fine food. Multiple choices for lunch fish and chips, steak sandwiches, wraps or ham and cheese toasties.

Doing it tough on the banks of the Murray River

We pulled into shore at around 3.30 p.m. to moor for the night and for our crew to get set up for the final night’s barbecue dinner. Once again great food and Wazza joined us after dinner with his guitar and we sang the hours away. We also had a bit of a poetry competition with those that could (or would) read their offerings out for a small prize. But it was more about the fun of joining in.

Singalong around the campfire

It was a great night, with everyone joining in before we all started to drift away from the fire to head back on board. A great night to finish the cruise and we made some new friends along the way.

Out and About

Kingfisher Tour through the Barmah Narrows

We had a busy day today. Started off with a brisk wind blowing into the dining deck which made breakfast a bit chilly. We left on the bus to go for tour through the Barmah wetlands area aboard Kingfisher Tours.

The industrial side of winemaking

After lunching in the park at Barmah we called into St Anne’s Winery for a tour and a tasting which was informative and enjoyable.

Perricoota Station Homestead

On our return from the winery we were able to view the grounds and surrounds of Perricoota Station Homestead after which we were served cheese platters and drinks on the lawns overlooking the Murray River. We returned to the paddle steamer in time for a roast dinner and to travel upstream for a couple of hours to moor at Deep Creek for the night.

On the Good Ship Emmylou

Aboard our PS Emmylou

First day of our three day cruise aboard the paddle steamer PS Emmylou started with scones, jam and cream while sailing down the mighty Murray River. Our fellow travellers all appear to be very nice people of our vintage or older. After a few wines we had dinner at six (Jenny had the oven baked barramundi while I had a medium rare scotch fillet). We continued down stream reaching Perricoota Station around nine where we have moored for the night. All our co-travellers appear to have retreated to their cabins so I guess it’s goodnight for the night

Tending the 115 year old steam engine after a hard days work.

Being Spoilt Rotten in Echuca

Wine and wood fired pizzas Cape Horn Winery, Echuca

The welcome mat has truly been rolled out in Echuca! We’ve had coffees and cake, wine and pizza, roast beef and veggies and more wine – we’re going to have to stop eating sooner or later . Great to catch up with Sharon and Paul and see all the work they’ve done on the house. We had a cruise around town this morning in a ‘55 Fairlane Retractable and this evening we’re heading out for music and dinner at the Workers Club. Tomorrow we start our boat cruise down the Murray.

Cruisin’ the streets of Echuca

Inching South

We left the luxury of the Riverside Caravan Park to make our way south again. We stopped in at Kerang for a morning cuppa and fielded more questions about Redback, this time from a couple of grannies travelling in motorhomes slightly bigger than ours. We decided we would have a stroll around the shopping centre of Kerang and managed to get that all important COVID staple – Toilet Paper! The town was very busy with plenty of foot traffic and well patronised cafes.

The Kerang Court House in the middle of Kerang CBD

We moved onto Cohuna where we set up camp at the RV friendly Flora Park. RVs can stay for up to 72 hours here and must be self contained. We had lunch, sat round reading for a while then went up the street to do the tourist thing and buy an ice cream. By this stage it was going on three p.m. and the coffee shops appeared to be shutting up shop. I guess they have been there since breakfast and with only a few miserly old farts in town there was no point staying open. The park in the Main Street is beautifully maintained and the town is generally very clean and tidy. A credit to the locals.

Under the shade of an old gum tree, Cohuna

Tonight is our last night out on the road before we head into Echuca to see Shaz and Paul (which we are looking forward to – its been ages). So tonight its one final cook up on the Coleman stove in the great outdoors.

Change of Plans

Bethlehem a la’ Ouyen

The best laid plans etcetera etcetera. We left Walpeup after nine for the short drive down to Ouyen. The wind was blustery again and increasing in speed but we pulled into Ouyen for stroll around the town only to be reminded how sad it had become. Other than the bakery. Post Office and newsagents there wasn’t much happening here. They still had the Christmas nativity display in the otherwise vacant shop windows. We moved on south heading to Sea Lake with the intention of staying at a free camp overnight. It is rather busy small town compared to the others that we have passed through but the lack of scenery and the persistent strong windows encouraged us to move onto Swan Hill.

The rather grand Royal Hotel, Sea Lake

We decided to stay at the Riverside Caravan Park again and were put onto a site backing onto the river, very pretty outlook. We had lunch then walked up to the street with a view to spreading the love (of our spending dollar) with the local businesses. We made a few non-essential purchases before heading back to camp to prepare for our arduous journey tomorrow, all 92 kms to Cohuna for our last free camp this trip. We will check out the Swan Hill Port before leaving the town.

Not a bad view from the patio of Redback

Where’s Walpeup?

We left Hopetoun and Lake Lascelles behind us as we headed north towards Patchewollock and Walpeup. There was a strong southerly blowing so we were like an ancient sailing ship being pushed along. Our fuel economy was amazing. We were a little saddened to see the derelict remains of so many old farmhouses, time has passed them by as more and more properties are amalgamated. The paddocks are vast, hundreds of acres without an internal fence in sight. It was no wonder that the wind was so strong as the plains were largely devoid of trees, I suppose they would just get in the way of the large machinery needed to till and harvest the grain crops.

History on display at a Murrayville Bric-A-Brac shop

Of course all these amalgamations are leading to a serious decline in the population of these once thriving areas and the subsequent demise of such picturesque places such as Murrayville. We walked the town and shopped at those few places that were still open. The town will probably become only a memory soon, much like Cowangie.

The spectre of a ghost town Murrayville

We turned back from the border (we didn’t want to be captured and held hostage by the South Australians – you know what it’s like – a male thing). We decided to head out to Kow Plain Homestead which we had heard of before but had never visited so this was our opportunity. An interesting collection of old buildings just outside of the Cowangie township (which is literally falling into disrepair). The homestead buildings have been well restored and are apparently looked on favourably by the UNESCO world heritage organisation as an example of early European settlement of the area.

Doing it tough Kow Plains style

Jenny made comment about how hard life would have been in those days. It made us realise that, in those bygone days, people didn’t have an expectation of happiness, they just lived life and worked hard for everything that they could attain. I wonder how they would view our modern society where personal happiness now seems to be the end goal? I hope they would be envious and perhaps we all need to be a bit more grateful for our lot.

We made our way back to the Travellers Rest Stop at Walpeup where we set up camp on green grass and we can have a hot shower in the facilities here. Doing it in style

Checking Out Hopetoun

A pleasant Sunday afternoon Lake Lascelles, Hopetoun

The weather cooled off again overnight with a cool breeze making sleeping easier (but not dampening the spirits of the partygoers still singing at 2 a.m.). It was clear skies again today so after catching up on the overnight news over breakfast, we decided we would go for a walk up to the CBD of Hopetoun. Perhaps it should be renamed. The Not Very Busy centre of Hopetoun. The bakery doesn’t open Sundays, so only a takeaway food shop and a cafe with limited choice were prospects for lunch. We ended up shopping at the IGA which was busy and making our way back to the camp to have lunch and catch up on some reading. Another warm day but with a pleasant cool breeze making this much more pleasant than Lake Bringalbert. The fridge has decided that it won’t cooperate so I’ll have to pull that out and get it repaired once we get home. At least these things are happening on our short trip rather than at the start of an 8 week journey – always look on the bright side of life, dum de dum.

Catching up on reading, sitting in the breeze