Day 146 – Swan Hill to Echuca - Down the Murray
Dec 14, 2009
|This morning was an uneventful drive through more Mallee scrub and eventually farm land on the way to Echuca. Actually being a border town it is correctly referred to as Echuca-Moama which to me sounds like an exotic disease you would pick up on a holiday in the south pacific. At least it is not a dose of Albury-Wodonga,,that hurts.
As soon as we set up (and ate) we wandered up to the historic port district of Echuca and booked onto a paddle steamer trip on the river. Before it was time to board we could wander around the old wharf area and some of the exhibits there including old trains
Do you remember the 1983 mini series – ‘All the Rivers Run’. I do vaguely. That was all shot in Echuca on a paddle steamer called the Pevensey (renamed the Philadelphia for the purpose of the series). You can walk around the Pevensey and occasionally it does move (not while we were here) and the mock up of the bridge that was used for filming is also in the museum. Fortunately Nicole Kidman was still riding her BMX so Sigrid Thornton weaver had the female lead and the series some credibility…..There is no claimed link to “Austraila”, however tenuous..
The Echuca wharf was built to accommodate high river levels so that steamers could be loaded even at the highest of floods. This was tested in 1870 when the river got within 6 inches of the deck. By comparison today the wharf is 38 feet (nearly 13 metres) above the waterline. It goes without saying, that is a lot of missing water.
We got on a paddle steamer (with a name too hard to remember) for the one hour tourist cruise on the river. All was going well until Alison got harassed by a psychotic 7 year old who, seemingly attracted by the boys, attached herself, limpet like, to Al. Her own parents seemed to be looking for the life boats as a quick escape.
Al, being too polite to throw her over the side as I would have (hey her parents wouldn’t have noticed) then endured a sermon best entitled, “I know everything, just ask me”. Now the blood flowing in torrents from Alison’s ears was not enough to alert this kid that Al was in pain. I had bravely sought refuge on the back of the boat as far from earshot as possible…..I did save the boys as well by the way. Sorry Al.
The captain took pity and headed back as fast as possible. Probably to offload the dangerous cargo or get medical treatment for Al who by this stage looked like she had gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson (yes the bleeding ear pun was intended). On disembarking the Captain offered Evan the chance to blow the whistle which he took. Surprisingly the noise only partially blocked out little miss talk too much.
Returning to the van Aaron slept, Ev played and shock horror, I took a few calls about work. Ouch. At least they were calls from people I liked. As the van park is on the Murray again we have the resident population of flies. Here however they have been joined by a couple of squadrons of white cockatoos and ducks.
Dinner was at an Irish pub in town, hey, we got lazy. How is it that there is an Irish pub in every town, but no one in it is Irish? Evan was excited as part of his meal deal was a ‘frog on a pond’. Translated this is a chocolate frog on a bowl of green jelly. Can you say - SUGAR RUSH!!!!!!
In an effort to wear down some of Ev’s sugar-induced energy post dinner we decided to conduct a session of “how to kick a bomber ball” (an AFL ball to everyone else). It was not long before all of the basics were in place and he was at least getting his foot and the ball in the same general vicinity. It never went where it was ever intended but to be fair I can’t actually do that either. After kicking we moved onto handballing which worked much better. Maybe this season is not too early to start Aus-Kick….
During all of this Aaron gleefully threw dirt into the air. He was enjoying himself and he washes.