24 members had an early start as we headed off on Sunday 9 October for a trip to South Australia. After arriving in Adelaide, we had a half day coach trip up to Hahndorf in the Adelaide hills and then the sights of Adelaide city. It was a bit cold and wet in Hahndorf but everybody still enjoyed themselves. Late afternoon we transferred to the Proud Mary coach for our 70 minute trip to Murray Bridge to board the Proud Mary. Once everybody was on board and settled into their cabins we headed off for a two hour cruise to Woodlane, our first overnight mooring spot. Whilst cruising we enjoyed a lovely supper. The Proud Mary holds 36 passengers with 6 crew. There’s the captain, engineer, chef, assistant chef and two very lovely ladies that looked after us in the dining room and our cabins.
Next morning we departed Woodlane around 8am heading for our next stop at Mannum. Here we enjoyed a 2 hour coach trip around Mannum and the surrounding country side. We visited an old house and sheds housing working engines and household goods from a bygone era. They had a very very large flood in 1956 looking at the flood pole. We depart Mannum enjoying a nice lunch whilst cruising further upstream passing towering cliffs and lots of house boats. After tying up at Walker Flat for the night we enjoy dinner with an Australiana menu. After dinner we board the coach again heading off on a nocturnal discovery tour looking for Southern Hairy Nose Wombats and found 19 of them.
Following an early departure from Walker Flat, we cruise through Wongulla and Big Bend. Morning tea in the dining room where the Captain gives an eco talk about the Murray River. We arrive at Swan Reach where we disembark for a coach tour of the old river settlement and the Murray Aquaculture centre. Rejoin the boat for lunch as we continue our cruise upstream until we reach Blanchetown and Lock One late afternoon. Some of us do a short stroll past lock one and the surrounds. Saw lots and lots of pelicans around the lock looking for a feed of fish coming over the weir. Early evening we depart and head back down stream enjoying a nice roast dinner before arriving at our stopover place for the night. Fun was had by all as we enjoyed trivia after dinner. Some took it more seriously than others.
Next morning we continued our journey back down stream with another stop at Swan Reach where we were able to spend some time exploring the little township on foot and its museum. Back on board for lunch as we head back to Big Ben, our stopover for the night. Here we join Dave the Ecologist who takes us on a tour of the lagoons and inlets as well as getting up close to the towering cliffs of Big Bend. Tonight is an Aussie BBQ onshore and after dinner we enjoy some good entertainment whilst sitting around the campfire. A few of us had to help out with the entertainment, some were better than others.
Thursday morning saw us depart Big Bend around 7am for a short trip to Ngaut Ngaut Aboriginal conservation site. Here we disembark for a tour of one of the oldest archaeological digs in Australia. Some chose to walk the 218 steps to the top of the cliff for more information about the aboriginals and marvellous views down over the river. After descending the steps we were given a talk about what has been found at the site and the carvings on the wall. Lunch is served as we cruise through Bowhill, Teal Flat and Pellaring Reach. Arrive late afternoon at Mannum in time to do a short walk around town to stretch the legs. Tonight is the Captain’s dinner. Great night had by all.
Our last day on board saw us cruse through Ponde and Wall Flat arriving mid morning at Woodlane. Here we disembarked and boarded the coach again to visit Mannum waterfalls to see water cascading down over the rocks. Two weeks earlier the water was raging down the falls following the bad weather SA had had, two people had to be rescued by helicopter from the rocks. On our way back we called into the Mypolonga State School. Even though it was school holidays about a dozen children with the principal and some parents opened their craft shop and told us a bit about this program ‘Balancing the Books’ the school is using to help them with handling money, working out change and other things. The students are responsible for the financial management of the shop. There was even a little 4 year old from preschool welcoming us to the shop and handing out brochures. Unfortunately we had to say farewell to the students and head back to the Proud Mary for a smorgasbord lunch as we head back to Murray Bridge and final stop. Here we boarded the coach for the last time for our trip back to Adelaide.
We were dropped off at the Hilton hotel for the night where we enjoyed a nice 2 course dinner. Next morning we had some leisure time, some went down on the tram to Glenelg before heading to the airport after lunch for the return flight home. Most returned home, but some stayed for an extra week of sightseeing in the Barossa Valley and Kangaroo Island.
What a great trip it was and a good time was had by all who went.