After two days in Narrung, we decided to head towards civilisation and phone reception so we packed up and drove to Tailem Bend. The town was small and quiet and the attendants at the Visitor Centre were uncomfortable friendly so we fled to Murray Bridge.
Murray Bridge was a lot bigger and offered much more than Tailem Bend, but it didn’t have enough to keep us for long. After an afternoon in the library to avoid the sweltering heat, we swung past the bottle shop, picked up some supplies and headed north to Mannum, with the promise of free camping by the Murray River.
We arrived at Bolto Reserve just before sunset to discover that the campsite now has a fee of $10 per site per night. All you had to do was put the money in an envelope and display the appropriate paperwork on the dash of your car and you’ll be right, mate! Considering that we were so close to town, we had reception, a fishing spot, toilets and a secluded area, we had no reason to refuse the fee – we paid for two nights on the spot.
Mannum is a small town along the Murray River and is the birthplace of the paddle steamer. There is a huge river culture with the main street of Mannum being the actual river itself. The next morning, we caught the ferry across the river into town. We visited the museum, learned about Boatel, met a brave pelican, bought a hanky top in Granny’s attic and admired the old historic buildings before walking back to camp to spend the day lazing about with some beer and goon by the river.
On the second night of our stay, our camp was intruded by a father-daughter team. They disregarded our secluded position and set up their three-tent settlement, put their speedboat in our fishing hole and went to sleep with the noisy generator on. At 9:30pm, Juz stormed out of the tent to persuade them to turn the generator off, and all they could do was apologise because the dad had sleep apnea. We’re guessing that he needed a CPAP device running throughout the night to allow him to have a safe and pleasant night sleep, but surely there are quieter methods to power this medical machinery that doesn’t bother everyone else at the campsite – EVER HEARD OF A BATTERY! Wankers…
POINTS OF INTEREST
The Paddle Steamer Museum
This was a very educational visit with the main focus on the boom of the Paddle Steamer, which started in 1830. River trade prompted the paddle steamer culture with church boats, milk boats, party boats, government boats, fishing boats and wool boats. After a good 80 years, the paddle boat era ended in 1950.
An eclectic op shop with a friendly attendant and a great selection of clothes. Juz had been looking for a strapless top since we left Melbourne and nothing seemed right, until she spotted a bandanna in this shop. After wrapping it around her boobs and tying a tight knot, she knew it was the one that would prevent tan lines on the hot days.
Mary Ann Reserve
This riverside park was named after the first paddle steamer of the area, and its boiler is the centrepiece of the park. There is also a big old tree trunk in the park that marks the 1956 flood level that devastated many towns along the Murray River. The flood was due to excessive rain in Queensland and as a result of these floods, the Menindee Lakes near Broken Hill were constructed to store excess water from the river. Mannum survived and the pubs stayed open by providing service from the second floor with boats tying up along the hotel balcony.
Built in 1897, this historic paddle steamer was initially used as a cargo boat before changing jobs to become a passenger boat. It was retired in 1965, restoration began in 1990 and it was recommissioned in 1994 as a heritage vessel. It is one of the last is one of the last operational paddle steamers in the world.