Next morning we followed the Campaspe River which flows through Echuca, discovering some birdlife and other bush inhabitants on the way.
We visited the junction of the Murray with the Campaspe, where we spotted some fishermen – surely they didn’t eat any fish from that murky green river?
Echuca was once Victoria’s second most important port. To quote Wikipedia again, “The arrival of steamboat transport was welcomed by pastoralists who had been suffering from a shortage of transport due to the demands of the gold fields. By 1860 a dozen steamers were operating in the high water season along the Murray and its tributaries. Once the railway reached Echuca in 1864, the bulk of the wool clip from the Riverina was transported via river to Echuca and then south to Melbourne.”
We inspected the bus but found it disappointing, so drowned our sorrows on an evening dinner cruise on another paddlewheeler, the “Pride of the Murray”, a more modern boat but built on old-fashioned lines. The paddlewheel was driven by diesel power which was not discernible, the boat simply glided along the water with only the faint slap of the paddles in the water. To speed 8 km/hr, or 4 km in “built-up areas” like Echuca and some houseboat mooring areas.
It was almost dark when we set off, cockatoos were wheeling around and just starting to roost in the tall trees on the opposite side of the river to the landing wharves. My camera was not able to zoom in sufficiently but even these blurred photos will give some idea.
We glided down the river for what seemed like hours, gazing at the floodlit river banks littered with ‘snags’ and and occasional ducks (always in pairs), and Dave once saw a couple of wallabies. We also surprised a cute little private houseboat as well as the more conventional sort. It was so peaceful yet exciting (for me at least).
The simple roast meal with dessert was excellent; I would recommend this cruise any time. Some other cruises go to wineries where people disembark for a meal.
Returning to the wharf, the floodlighting made for some great photos (all taken by Dave) including one of the Pevensey.
We were booked into a considerably cheaper but no less comfortable motel, the River Gum Motel, which also offered a free breakfast. Arriving at the dining hall and spotting containers of cereal, fruit etc I assumed that was it, but no, bacon and eggs and sausages and tomatoes were also available. We’d strongly recommend this motel.
Next morning we had to delay departure until Dave could retrieve his notepad which he’d left behind in the bus (!) and while waiting we paid a visit to a nearby caravan dealer. After inspecting a couple of caravans and noting their prices we realised we could really be a great deal more comfortable with a caravan and tow vehicle, and what’s more the cost would be not more and possibly less than a good bus! The little Suzuki behind the bus at Wodonga was the catalyst.
SO …… change of plan. We are now on a caravan plus towing vehicle hunt!