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Tea Tree Gully Probus - Cruising the Mightily Murray River

Tea Tree Gully Probus - Cruising the Mightily Murray River.

On 7 July 2019, 25 members from Tea Tree Gully Probus Club with four of their friends joined 2 members from the Wynn Vale Probus Club and four New Zealand tourists at Murray Bridge, South Australia, to board the Proud Mary for a cruise on the River Murray to Blanchetown.

After the crew carried their luggage on board and having been shown to and settling in the ensuite cabins, they were invited to the dining room and were introduced to the crew. This crew looked after them superbly for the whole trip, and most of the attendees came home a trifle larger than when they left.

During the course of the cruise, they passed the little fishing village of Caloote, the westernmost point of the Murray River and the site of a World War 1 and 2 training camp. Then docked at the picturesque town of Mannum. Mannum (together with many other settlements along the River), suffered badly in the record 1956 floods when water came up to the first floor of the Pub in the main street. Mannum is also the site of the pumping station and the beginning of the pipeline which was built in 1954 that supplies Adelaide with water supplementary to the reservoirs.

That night they moored at Walker Flat, where they had an "Australiana" night where the meals on offer included kangaroo, damper bread, lemon myrtle, and other Australian foods. Followed by joining the bus driver Michael as he took the attendees on a night tour into the "bush" in search of the "hairy-nosed wombat" and kangaroos. With the help of the sharp eyes of his grandchildren who joined the trip, the attendees saw about 12 wombats and countless kangaroos in their natural environment. 

The next day involved Swan Reach - another town that suffered badly in the 1956 floods. It was settled in 1857 and four huge sheep stations were developed. The average rainfall is 10" per annum (250mls). It was the home of brilliant, and well known South Australian National Football League footballers Neil Kerley and Ken Eustice, and international singer Julie Anthony (nee Lush).

At Moorundie Creek, Rain is not a common occurrence in this area, preventing the planned BBQ and campfire. However the versatile cooks prepared yet another delicious meal on board to avoid the rain.

"Big Bend" about the highest cliffs encountered. Despite the threat of rain, most of the guests went for a tour with the captain on the "tender boat" into the backwater and examined the huge cliffs up close. The life vests did not enhance everyone's appearance - but they ensured safety. Our knowledge was further enhanced and we saw lots of interesting things - including the nesting hole of a fairy martin bird. The evening entertainment was guitarist/singer Dave Verrall and his backing band made up of several guests including President Ian on "womboard" (corrugated iron sheet cut in the shape of a wombat in a wooden frame and wooden soup ladle to strike it with). Probus member Jutta was a star on the "shaker" and Joan and several other Probus members on cymbals, maracas, and xylophone, etc. Dave sang many Australian songs including John Williamson's "True Blue", Peter Allen's "I Still Call Australia Home" and many others.

The Ngaut Ngaut Aboriginal Conservation Reserve, they were met by an Aboriginal Guide. She guided  a walk to show and explain the meaning of some ancient Cave Art. They were shown the site of a 1927 archaeological dig under an overhanging cliff, which went down 20 feet (6 meters). It was a place where they had their fires for cooking, warmth and waste disposal. The dig revealed much of what happened in this area over the last 1,000 years or so including their living and trading habits.

The "Captains Quiz" consisted of 20 odd questions on what was learned during the cruise.  

The "Captain's Dinner" of five courses preceded by hors d'ouvres and complimentary cocktails. Captain Alan and Engineer Doug joined the table.

On the cruise, many small towns were passed i.e Caloote, Mannum, Bow Hill, Walker Flat, Nildottie, Swan Reach, Blanchetown, Ngaut Ngaut, Wood Lane, Mypolonga. 

Overall it was a lovely cruise enjoyed by all.