21 May 2020
Cruise into the charming riverside town of Echuca and there’s one thing you’ll immediately notice, paddlesteamers… and lots of ‘em! Their loud foghorns draw your attention to the Port of Echuca where you’ll quickly step back in time to discover what riverboat life was all about. Discovery Parks - Echuca Manager, Judy, has the lowdown on Australia’s largest paddlesteam fleet so you can easily navigate the Mighty Murray and cruise to some stunningly secluded areas with the town’s two paddlesteamer operators.
Murray River Paddlesteamers run three historic steamboats to jump aboard. Choose from:
Built in 1980, this is the star amongst the fleet, as this steam engine featured in the TV mini-series, ‘All the Rivers Run’. Named after American country singer, Emmylou Harris, she has a restaurant and accommodation onboard. She does two 2-hour lunch cruises per day and a couple of dinner cruises at night during the week. I recommend guests board the PS Emmylou for a romantic lunch with your partner or a couple of wines with your friends. The sound of the paddlewheel turning on the quiet Murray River is just superb.
The oldest steamship in the fleet, the PS Canberra was built in 1913. Watching the Murray River Red Gum being loaded into her steam engine is a highlight of the trip. It also makes for a nice warm ride during the colder months. This boat is best for families, as it has enclosed sides for a safer trip with younger children and cruises are short with 1-hour daily trips. Kids can also steer this paddlesteamer with the Skipper and they’ll receive a specially signed Skipper Certificate. There is a kiosk on board.
PS PRIDE OF THE MURRAY
Originally built in 1924 as a barge, she was later transformed into a paddle wheeler with a diesel engine, not a steam engine. This boat operates as an evening cruise a couple of times a week. It’s a great boat for families and offers a relaxing Devonshire tea on the top deck viewing area.
Echuca Paddlesteamers also offer the steamboat experience with two historic vessels to choose from:
The PS Pevensey is pretty special as she still has her original steam engine from when she was built in 1911. Originally a cargo boat, the PS Pevensey is now purely a tourist boat that departs from Echuca Wharf several times a day for hour long cruises. This is a great steamboat for families as they hold free school holiday activities onboard. The PS Pevensey also made a guest appearance on the TV mini-series, ‘All the Rivers Run’ and was renamed ‘Philadelphia’ for the part.
PS ALEXANDER ARBUTHNOT
This boat was originally built in 1916 and used to tow larger barges filled with Reg Gum logs upstream. In 1947, she finished her working life and eventually sank. She was raised and fully restored by the Echuca City Council where she took her place on the Port of Echuca in 1994. One of the smaller boats on the river, she carries up to 47 passengers during her daily hour-long cruises.Reading about the history of the paddlesteams is great but, there is nothing like standing on Riverboat Dock or at the Port of Echuca looking at these great boats and making your own decision on which to take a ride on. You can buy your tickets down there or, if it’s a busy holiday time of year, I would suggest that you buy your tickets in advance.
Cruise your way to Discovery Parks - Echuca today.