It is getting close
As we leave Walker Flat and head to Mannum for three nights one is struck by how much urbanisation is closing in the distance between the towns. It is only 32 road km to Mannum and about 150 river km to the mouth at Goolwa! Lucky we are not trying to charge up the batteries along the way. So it was a very leisurely 10.30am or so departure from Walker Flat. We had a look around the banks of the River and the limestone cliffs up close, plenty of sea shell fossils clearly visible in the rocks. Homealone pleased that we managed to get a nice sample to bring home for the display shelf at Bedwell Place.
The short distance to Mannum means we are there early and are able to get choice of camp spots. We end up on the end of a block of sites with a good view of the River and happenings on the bank with the ducks, pelicans, a black swan, a spoonbill and numerous swamp hens in residence. Flocks of cockatoos and corellas fly in as the sun sets making a racket.
Mannum is an old town and was one of the places of early settlement on the lower Murray, there was a strong German and Lutheran heritage among the early settlers. The town has been able to retain many of the early limestone buildings along the main street, now repurposed from their original use. We had lunch one day at the Mannum Club over looking the River, it has a strong nineteenth century German background. There is a display case of the club’s historical materials including minutes of a board meeting around 1914 which debated the status of club members with German nationality in the context of WW1. The committee voted to kick them all out of the Club, an interesting historical snippet for current day observation!
The town is a busy thorough fare for traffic accross the river with two ferries side by side, the Pelican and the Black Swan. We cross over a couple of times, just for fun of course! The PS Marion is pride of place in the town. This is a real blood and guts boat for travellers to take up the river on 3 night voyages, in much the same accommodation as those a hundred years ago. Small two bunk cabins and bathroom facilities shared out on the side of the boat. There is a lounge area and a dining room setup with plenty of deck space, one is up quite high looking down on the River from the top deck, where the wheelhouse is. Allthego thinks it would be a great trip up to Big Bend and beyond. Homeaone thinks the Murray Princess would be more salubrious and suitable.
The custartd tart tasteoff continues in Mannum. Considerable disappointment though as the tart from Waikerie and the Mannum tart just don’t stack up. Both exhibit the problem identified earlier, the casing is not cooked, meaning the base is soggy and not very appealing. Fortunately, Allthego spotted a berliner in Mannum and couldn’t resist. Maybe we will test run berliners on the next trip? This custard filled German style donut was great. There are no holes in German donuts, this is an advantage because the custard doesn’t fall through the hole and instead oozes out the side mixing with the chocolate icing on top! Mmm!
Allthego wandered uptown on the last day for a haircut at the local barber, or perhaps it was the hairdresser. His locks, eyebrows, ears etc were getting a little untidy after nearly seven weeks and needed attention. Also a couple of post cards to get off.
Lo and behold Dolly Parton was in town outside the shed where farmers come and buy stuff; seeds, chemicals, fertilzers, tools etc. She wasn’t singing but rather having an animated discussion with an old bloke, so Allthgo thought he would calm things down a bit and get a photo with the lady, by the way the old bloke was her father it seems. So it wasn’t really Dolly, just a sort of look- a- like!
PS Marion was steaming off on it’s trip up the Murray, great sight with steam and smoke from the stack as it chugged along from the morring past our camp site.
Next stop is Murray Bridge.