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Active Retirees : Active Retirees Jun-Jul
Active RetireesTM | 15 After years of drought and uncertainty, the riverland of South Australia is preening in its soft green coat and the birds are back in town. All roads lead to Adelaide and that’s where the journey for the Murray begins. I arrived in the late morning, so it was a lazy stroll around this charming southern city. I had the time to revisit the city’s fine art gallery, do a bit of window shopping and, after a quick nip into Haigh’s Chocolates to stock up for the next few days, I was ready for bed. Early in the morning I was picked up by coach to travel to Mannum, a charming little town on the Murray said to be the birthplace of colonial riverboat trade and communication. And today it’s the place to go ‘all onboard’ the PS Murray Princess. Other guests and I mooched around the bank of the river before we were whisked onboard the Princess. After boarding formalities I headed to my cabin, a spacious affair opening onto the outside deck. Bounce on mattress, check! T ry shower, check! Stow clothes away, check! Unpacked and ready to move on, I went to the lounge at the stern where the ‘big wheel keeps on turning’. The graceful stern paddle wheel is the outstanding feature of this purpose-built vessel, and is about to deliver an indulgent outback river experience. All passengers meet for a welcome drink and there’s quite a crowd of us. There are a few who aren’t with a group, a large group of American tourists and a Probus group. We sat for dinner and the high standard was set for meals – large, varied and very tasty. The dining room staff is fantastic and a wonder ful asset to the outfit. Most of them are a lot younger than the guests onboard, but they had a genuine interest in all of us and a natural and sincere way of communicating. There’s no patronising of older people on this ship. Morning breaks After a restful, almost unconscious night on the river in the quiet of the countryside, I began the day by admiring an ethereal sunrise that crept over the horizon and cut through a soft pink dawn. Then, a quick breakfast and it’s time to head ashore for a guided walk with the captain and first mate. They are close to a double act – not only informative but funny and irreverent. There’s another stop later and we head ashore for a tour through Burk Salter’s vineyard where the group enjoys wine tastings and stories of the region from the vintners. Another morning ashore, we take a trip guided by Ngarrindjeri people, the Indigenous people of the Lower Murray and the Coorong. In the evening we all pile into the back of an old truck that’s been fitted out to carry a few passengers and chug off to Sunnydale for a visit to the Native Wildlife Shelter, where some of South Australia’s most interesting animals are cared for. The legendary Aussie barbecue followed. Staff dressed for the part and served an excellent meal in the bush setting with great aplomb. With more guts than glory, they sang their hearts out and played some very suss bush instruments. This was a wonderful, joyful and light-hearted evening – and the captain joined the crew to entertain us as well. A leisurely cruise along the Murray River on a paddle wheeler such as the Murray Princess is one of the classic Australian trips. My personal highlight was the unforgettable sight of the cliffs – beautiful, craggy, ancient golden slices of rock marked by flood, drought, time and tide; millions of years are on show here, and with lots of water in the Murray it will continue to slowly shape the cliffs for thousands of years to come. And I’m sure whatever form of life exists then, it will be as overwhelmed by the beauty of what the river offers as I was. •• Bev Malzard was a guest of Captain Cook Cruises.W: www.captaincook.com.au With more guts than glory, they sang their hearts out and played some very suss bush instruments. TRAVEL DOMESTIC
Active Retirees Aug-Sept