Thursday 30 August 2012– Day 6

Due to the Swan Hill bridge works, Thursday turned into a rest day in Swan Hill. First thing on the agenda was a cooked breakfast at the Big 4 Caravan Park next door to the Pioneer Settlement which has recently opened an outside café.  

The crew then wandered around the Pioneer Settlement especially enjoying the Steam Workshop. We were also given the privilege to have a look onboard the PS Gem. And what a big paddlesteamer she is! They have begun the tedious and expensive task of restoring the Gem back to her former glory however as we know this takes an enormous amount of time and effort.

Throughout the day the Swan Hill bridge works was on everyone’s mind. The RTA still need to conduct test lifts however we really couldn’t afford to spend any more time in Swan Hill if we wanted to make it to Mildura for the PS Melbourne’s Centenary Celebrations. Late afternoon we received notice that RTA will close the bridge from 10am – 12noon tomorrow (Friday 1 September), and will conduct a test lift. If the first test lift is successful the will then allow the PS Adelaide and other houseboats through on the second lift. So this confirmed that we would be stoked up ready to depart first thing the next day.

In the afternoon, crew went and sourced more firewood from Ted Ward and Cliff Hayes, even stacking the wood on the back deck.

At 7pm we attended the Pioneer Settlements Sound and Light Show experiencing it in a whole new way.

Roast beef rolls were on the menu tonight and after a quick dinner everyone went off to bed, ready for the big day ahead.

Distance Travelled: 0kms

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Wednesday 29 August- Day 5

A late start today saw us dig into a scrumptious breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon and was our sustenance to keep polishing and tidying the PS Adelaide in readiness for her long await return to Swan Hill. Generators and fridges were also covered to ensure the more modern conveniences were hidden.

At 9.30am we departed from PentalIslandHolidayPark cruising for only 30 minutes until we came to the designated spot where we were to meet the Pyap.

The Swan Hill paddleboat, the Pyap, boasted 150 passengers on this special cruise, coming to meet the PS Adelaide and lead her into the Pioneer Settlement. It was an amazing feeling to be onboard the Adelaide as everyone waved as they cruised past. The Pyap turned around up stream and then we set off, following her down the Murray cruising past the historic Murray Downs Homestead.

Many were lining the riverbanks as we got closer into town. The sound of the paddlesteamers whistles letting them know that we weren’t too far away.

On departing the Murray River, coming into the Pioneer Settlement, the unfamiliar current grabbed the Adelaide and we were forced off course however the crew worked together to get her back under control and we were soon again following the Pyap, mooring at the Pioneer Settlement.

Crew were overwhelmed with the welcome in Swan Hill with a band playing on the banks and the Deputy Mayor announcing our arrival. Everyone was invited back to the Lower Murray Inn for a sausage lunch and then later in the afternoon for high tea.

Once everyone dispersed, the crew departed to load more firewood from the local marina. On return the PS Adelaide pulled up against the Pyap allowing for a very unique photo opportunity.

For dinner, PS Adelaide crew were special guests at the Captains Table Smorgasboard at Spoons Waterfront Restaurant. And what a meal it was. The two course buffet was absolutely delicious with a big pyalla as the feature. Our hosts Billy and Carol Hogg, captain and deckhand of the Pyap, told riverboat stories of the past while both the Pyap and Adelaide sat moored together, flood lit under the redgum trees.

A great night was had by all.

Distance Travelled: 9km

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Tuesday 28 August 2012- Day 4

It was our first star lit night, so the morning was beautiful and crisp. Our engineer woke early, stoking the boiler from 5am to ensure we could depart by 7am.

After a quick breakfast we sounded the whistle and began the next leg of our amazing journey. As we cruised along this dense bushland area we saw a number of mobs of kangaroos bounding through trees.

Everyone got to work finishing the maintenance jobs we had started the day before. Due to the treacherous waters captain sounded our warning signal (of four short blasts of the whistle) a number of times through the day. It is very interesting to watch as the crew move about the boat responding amazingly to the captains orders.

Our first obstacle for the day was the MurrabitBridge. As we arrive many locals lined the river bank on both sides to watch as it was raised. Again we turned around moving backwards through the bridge. It is such a tense moment as the boat enters between the narrow bridge pylons we know how fickle the Murray River currents can be.

When on the other side, captain sounded the whistle, the locals gave a round of applause and we continued to move gracefully around the bend.

A light lunch was had on the run as everyone was trying to complete their maintenance jobs before the PS Adelaide was reunited with the Pyap, Murray Downs Station and Swan Hill.

Further down stream we came across another set of powerlines however this time the lines went straight across the river. Even though very these lines were high and we knew other paddlesteamers had been through before, we still had to be careful as the river is so high.

As the night closed in we pulled up to the PentalIslandHolidayPark, a beautiful place situated right on a sweeping bend. We were welcomed by hosts Mary and Alf.

Dinner was a very yummy stew shared with our new found friend Allan. One thing that is evident about being on the Murray is that everyone is relaxed and ready to share stories.

Distance Travelled: 85km.

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Monday 27 August 2012- Day 3

Just getting a little arty!

Going under the Barham-Koondrook Bridge!

Cleaning the Hydrostatic Lubricators.

Well what a view to wake up to, the BarhamBridge in the early morning fog!

After a quick freshen up at the riverside caravan park, crew began to get ready for the big obstacle ahead, the Barham-KoondrookBridge. Crew were on the riverbank chatting with locals answer questions but also asking the questions on local river knowledge, especially for the few bends that lay ahead. A load of wood was also delivered and loaded onto the boat.

The NSW RTA closed the bridge for five hours, from 9.30am – 2.30pm, in readiness for us to go under. They conducted a practice bridge lift at 11.30am as they had just completed maintenance.

A steam launch, the St Elmo, came out to greet the PS Adelaide which the crew really loved, along with a couple of houseboats. At around 1pm the bridge the bridge was lifted. 

The other boats went first and then it was the PS Adelaide’s turn. Crew were ready, the tinny was on standby ready to assist and the crowd held their breath.

Many onlookers were unaware that, until the time came, the PS Adelaide was going under the bridge backwards. Why?? Well, as we are cruising down stream, the current is faster, therefore we can get out of control a lot easier. If we are facing up stream and something starts to go wrong, we can get out of the situation by cruising forward.

From reports of river height, it was believed that the Adelaide may not have fitted however we had approx 2 meters to spare, so had heaps of room.

The crew did an amazing job to direct the vessel through the small opening with the township showing their support with many cheers and whistles.

As we were scheduled to stay overnight in Barham Day 3, it was agreed that we would pull into Barham on the other side of the bridge for the night. Locals, including school groups, gathered around the PS Adelaide and the crew were introduced to everyone.

The vessel was then open up to the public allowing them to walk around the bottom deck. Even the Gannawarra Mayor came to have a look!

As everyone started to wonder off, and the crew started to relax, captain Graham realised that the schedule for Day 4 was a lot longer journey than first anticipated. Soooo, just like the Murray River and her ever changing currents, we headed off from Barham to head further down stream.

The next stretch of river is known for its many snags and bends so it was good to get a little further ahead on Day 3.

All crew were advised that four quick whistle blows is the signal for all crew to be alert and on look out. During the 20kms we did, captain sounded this warning three times! Mostly due to fallen trees coming out into the middle of the river.

We found a beautiful secluded spot on the river bank and set up camp.

Again we had an awesome roast for dinner, this time with carrots and  mash potatoes and pumpkin.

On board a paddlesteamer is a most wonderful place to sleep. The (still) warm boiler keeping everyone cosy in their swags.

Distance Travelled: 20kms.

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Sunday 26 August 2012- Day 2

PS Adelaide entering into the Lock Chamber

PS Adelaide heading into the Lock Chamber.

Lock Chamber gates opening. Allowing the PS Adelaide to start the next stage of her journey to Mildura.

Travelling onboard the oldest wooden hulled paddlesteamer in the world does not allow for a sleep in. Our engineer began firing the boiler at 5am and we were steamed up and ready to go through the Torrumbarry Weir by 8am.

From day break, a crowd was gathering around the riverbank to watch us attempt the Lock. Captain Graham Trist glided the PS Adelaide gently into the Lock Chamber. Lock Master Terry Williams closed the gates behind and then dropped the water approx 2 inches. The front gates were opened and then, with lots of style and elegance, the grand old lady steamed through and onto the next leg of her journey.

With ten crew onboard we began our list maintenance tasks to freshen the vessel. This included painting, oiling the decks and polishing the hydrostatic lubricators.

On the lunch menu today was a beautiful chicken & corn chowder brought onboard by Pam, there wasn’t anything left in the pot!

We saw many beautiful sites, but the most tedious as an area before Barham where power lines run along the river, across the bite. The crew did a great job to keep us on the right side. This was very tense as we were higher than the lines.

Because we had had such a great day of travel, and were ahead of schedule, it was decided to continue on past Mill Bend (scheduled stop on the itinerary) arriving into Barham a day early.

As we cruised into Barham the local community were not prepared for us, but after a few whistle blows it didn’t take long for word to get around town that we had arrived.

Dinner was a beautiful roast lamb with carrots, potatoes, pumpkin and onion. Hmmm yum. And after everyone was fed, all ten crew found their little spot on the boat to bunker down in for the night.

Distance Travelled: 104kms.

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Saturday 25 August 2012- Day 1

 

Image of the Echuca Wharf from the PS Adelaide

Crew arrived early, ready for the first day of this exciting river adventure down the Murray River, Echuca to Mildura. The buzz around the PS Adelaide was ecstatic with friends and family quickly jumping onboard to have a look at the 146 year old lady!

 Over 120 people ventured out on the cold foggy morning to line the edge of the EchucaWharf to wave us goodbye. The Echuca Federal Band played high up on redgum wharf, while everyone arrived, then Echuca Uniting Church Minister Eric Smith blessed the PS Adelaide with the following pray:

 May god bless the PS Adelaide, and all who look after her,

That she will look after them,

That the strong river currents will carry her downstream smoothly and there will be no tangles with snags or low bridges,

That it will be easy to load the wood,

That the current will slacken for the return journey,

That the time the crew will spend together will be harmonious and relaxing,

That the celebrations for one paddlesteamer in Mildura will echo up and down the river so that there will be renewed enthusiasm for maintaining a large and viable fleet as a tribute to our history,

That all the people who see her will give a resounding cheer,

And that she and all on her will return home safely.

In the name of faith, hope and love.

Amen.

As we sounded the whistle community members threw down streamers and the PS Pevensey followed for the first 20 minutes, carrying about 60 passengers. 

It was a big day but time went quick. Everyone quickly slotting into their roles. It was amazing how everyone worked so well together.

At 12.30pm, while still cruising we had beautiful hamburgers with egg, lettuce and tomato. This section of the river was a little more relaxing as many crew had navigated it many times before and had an idea of what to expect around the next corner.

We arrived at the Torrumbarry Weir at 5.30pm making very good timing, however there was no rest for the crew as a big pile of wood was waiting on the riverbank ready for them to load it!

Dinner was steak, salad and chips. And it is to be noted that as the PS Adelaide is being crewed by volunteers, all meat has been donate by Echuca meat retailer The Main Course.

Then it was to bed for everyone as an early morning start was required to get ready to go through the Torrumbarry Weir.

Distance Travelled: 80kms

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PS Adelaide to depart Echuca Wharf – 25 August

 

PS Adelaide set to depart Echuca Wharf on 25 August

At 9am this Saturday (25 August) the PS Adelaide will set off on her biggest journey in over 50 years.

The Adelaide, the oldest wooden hulled paddlesteamer in the world, will depart the Port of Echuca Wharf for the first leg of her 886km trip down the mighty Murray River. Destination is Mildura and Wentworth to help celebrate fellow paddlesteamer the PS Melbourne’s 100th birthday.

Port of Echuca are inviting the local community to come and farewell the PS Adelaide as she departs the Echuca Wharf. The Wharf will be open from 8.30am for those who wish to wave her goodbye.

Port of Echuca manager Mark Blunden said, ‘We have arranged for Rev Eric Smith to conduct a Blessing of Safe Travel and the Echuca Federal Band will also play as the PS Adelaide and the crew depart.’

It is estimated that the trip from Echuca to Mildura will take 12 days, including two rest days, however this is nearly doubled when bringing her back upstream. To make the trip the PS Adelaide will have to go through three lochs, over two wire punt crossings and four bridges will have to be lifted. It is also estimated that the PS Adelaide will require approx 3 tonnes of firewood per day.

Mr Blunden said ‘The PS Adelaide is being crewed by volunteers and without the support and sponsorship of local businesses this journey would not be possible. We would like to thank Telstra, Hip Pocket, Add Print, Mitre 10, Dulux and Hunter Wharf & Barge for their support, especially at such short notice.

Telstra has come onboard and will equip the PS Adelaide with the most up to date telecommunications to ensure the vessel is contactable at all times and so the crew can keep the community up to date on the adventure through the Port of Echuca’s Facebook and a dedicated Blog. For links to these sites please visit http://www.portofechuca.org.au.

On Sunday 26 August the PS Adelaide will be steamed up by 7.30am, ready to go through the Torrumbarry Loch at 8am. Locals are encouraged to drive out to the Torrumbarry Weir Day Visitor Area to watch as the vessel moves through the Loch Chamber.

When in Mildura, the PS Melbourne’s Centenary River Festival will be held on Sunday 9 September and is a celebration of the iconic Paddle Steamer Melbourne’s 100th Birthday. This milestone event will be held at the Mildura Wharf where the Melbourne will be joined by over 20 vessels, including heritage steamers from South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria, not seen together for over 50 years.

If you would like further information on the PS Adelaide’s expedition, please contact the Port of Echuca on 03 5482 4248.
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Paddlesteamer Adelaide to cruise from Echuca to Mildura

Image

Preparations are well underway for the Paddlesteamer (PS) Adelaide’s longest and most impressive journey since returning to the Port of Echuca 51 years ago.

On Saturday 25 August the PS Adelaide, the oldest wooden hulled paddlesteamer in the world, will depart the Port of Echuca Wharf for the first leg of her 886km trip down the mighty Murray River. Destination is Mildura and Wentworth to help celebrate fellow paddlesteamer the PS Melbourne’s 100th birthday.

Port of Echuca manager Mark Blunden said ‘The Port of Echuca is very excited to announce this expedition, as we join the PS Melbourne’s celebrations for this momentous occasion. Our crew has developed a detailed itinerary including bridge crossings and wood loading areas. Logistically navigating the Murray River from Echuca to Mildura has its issues and many of the elements, such as river height, are just out of our control. ’

To make the trip the PS Adelaide will have to go through three lochs, under two wire punt crossings and four bridges will have to be lifted. It is also estimated that the PS Adelaide will require 30 tonnes of firewood to make it to Mildura and back!

Mr Blunden said ‘It will take the crew 12 days to cruise the PS Adelaide to Mildura and then approximately another 24 days to bring her home (upstream). The only issue we may have is getting under the Swan Hill bridge which is going to be craned up. It can however only go so high, and if the river keeps rising we just may not fit!’

Community groups along the way will be encouraged to celebrate the arrival of the PS Adelaide as she cruises through many townships along the Murray River.

Itinerary:

Day 1- Saturday 25 August:- Echuca Wharf at 9am to Torrumbarry Weir (82km)  
Day 2- Sunday 26 August:- Torrumbarry Lock to Barham Mill Bend (86km)    
Day 3- Monday 27 August:- Barham Mill Bend to Barham-Koondrook (19km)
Day 4- Tuesday 28 August:- Barham-Koondrook to Swan Hill Pental Island (114km)
Day 5- Wednesday 29 August:- Rest day in Swan Hill- PB Iron Dry joins Flotilla
Day 6- Thursday 30 August:- Swan Hill to Tooleybuc (90km)
Day 7 Friday 31 August:- Tooleybuc to Boundary Bend (92km)
Day 8 Saturday 1 September:- Boundary Bend to Robinvale (104km)       
Day 9- Sunday 2 September:- Wood loading and rest day.
Day 10- Monday 3 September:- Robinvale to Tapulin Cutting/Island (124km)
Day 11- Tuesday 4 September:- Tapalin Cutting/Island to Mildura (112km)
Day 12- Wednesday 5 September:- Mildura to Wentworth (56km)
Please Note: Itinerary is subject to varying river heights and may change at any time without notice.

When in Mildura, the PS Melbourne’s Centenary River Festival will be held on Sunday 9 September and is a celebration of the iconic Paddle Steamer Melbourne’s 100th Birthday. This milestone event will be held at the Mildura Wharf where the Melbourne will be joined by over 20 vessels, including heritage steamers from South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria, not seen together for over 50 years.

Mr Blunden said, ‘Everyone is encouraged to follow the PS Adelaide’s journey as she heads down river for this once in a life time event. And if you can’t make it down to the river bank, the Port of Echuca plan to provide daily updates via social media and a dedicated blog.’
To follow these links, please visit www.portofechuca.org.au.

If you would like further information on the PS Adelaide’s expedition, please contact the Port of Echuca on 03 5482 4248.

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