Sometimes all that is needed is a short cruise to bring back that special feeling of being on the water somewhere. And sometimes it need only be a few days on a mighty river close to home.
australiancruisingnews.com made this discovery recently on the stern paddle wheeler Murray Princess which is celebrating her 30th birthday of cruising on the Murray River.
Murray Princess is Australia’s answer to similar paddle wheelers that ply their way up and down the Mississippi River, which is the longest river in the US of A at 3734km.
As it happens, the Murray is Australia’s longest river at 2508km and wends its way through the southern states of South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales at a leisurely pace.
There is no rush to get from A to B on Murray Princess which cruises from her home port in Mannum, in South Australia, on 3, 4, and 7-day cruises along the historic Murray that was, in centuries past, a major transport highway.
Soaring sandstone cliffs are a definite “wow” factor when cruising, as are banks of ancient red gums, and stands of weeping willows, with birds of all shapes and sizes making the river a “twitchers” paradise. Even run of the mill pink-billed pelicans that bob gently up and down on the river are a mesmerizing sight, especially at night.
Murray Princess does not cover too many kilometres in a day, and does not sail at night, yet the day and evening pass far too quickly. There are talks about the history of the paddle-wheeler, the bird life, and the crops that thrive along the Murray, which is one of South Australia’s major food bowls. There is also time to sample the food and wines of the region.
When anchored we play boules on a grassy bank, go fishing, and sit on deck to enjoy the tranquility of it all. We also take a ride on the zippy local boat Firefly to get close to the cliffs where ancient shells are embedded, and where tiny birds nest and spiders spin webs.
As to the food in the main restaurant, it is plentiful, comfort food with a modern slant that appeals to all ages. Entertainment is a one-man band that always attracts dancers to the floor after dinner, as others head to the main lounge to get to know one another, or take in the great view through a glass wall to the giant stern paddle wheel that is floodlit at night.