After breakfast we were cruising along happily towards Mannum when our speed suddenly dropped and the noise changed. Rumours spread that we’d broken down!
The lift had already broken down the day before and was still out of commission but now the paddle had joined in. It was with great excitement that we heard we were being towed by the two tenders and went to the front of the boat expecting to see tow ropes but it was cleverer than that!
The tenders lived one each side of the Princess, tethered to solid bars that stuck out at right angles a bit behind half way down the boat. I’d always thought this was cute.
Well each boat had pulled forward so that they were now tethered to the front-sides and had their little outboards purring along, dragging us with them. Each had a staff member in it and they couldn’t see each other which amused me. I guess they’d prearranged their speed or we’d have been going in circles! The starboard boat had Jason in it all rugged up in a rain jacket as it was not only cooler today but drizzling! The port boat had BJ.
Hopefully you can make out from this picture that the grey part on the right is the deck of the Princess and that the outboard on the tender is going. They were just chugging along. Jason looked bored and cold so we chatted to him for a while and told him a couple of jokes and then went to see how BJ was faring and chatted to him for a while. We offered to make him a cuppa as we were about to have one each but he said he was fine. He was literally outside our cabin door!
When we went back to the starboard side Jason had been needed for something and had been replaced by the chief engineer, Brett, who was sitting there eating a full breakfast. We did laugh! Chef had brought it out for him as he was missing the staff meal time! Brett said it gave him time to think through what could be the matter with the paddle hydraulics.
After quite some time, rumour then had it that petrol was becoming an issue for the tenders. They weren’t equipped for this length of journey and they were not allowed to store spare fuel for them onboard the Princess. The plan was for one to zoom ahead without the additional weight of the Princess and get some but Brett’s peaceful thinking and breakfast must have done the trick and he came up with an idea to fix the paddle.
By this time we were a good hour behind schedule! One of the tenders zoomed off ahead anyway and picked up the lift technician and brought him back so he could be working on the lift and have it fixed before we hit Mannum when the staff would need it for distributing luggage from the new passengers!
While I’m on the subject of the Murray Princess, we were told that she weighs the same as 15 buses and uses 1,500 litres of diesel per hour – which we found interesting.
I have not said to date but the passengers on the whole would have averaged 60 – 65 years of age probably. Except for young Donna at 35 and 2 intellectually handicapped lads in their 20s David and I were amongst the youngest few passengers aboard. The staff had been brilliant about offering assistance to anyone that needed help with the stairs while the lift was out of action. The staff overall really couldn’t have been more kind or helpful, we loved them all. Not to mention the great senses of humour which got a regular workout and was much appreciated.
Those 5 of us that were not disembarking all had a trip of the Barossa Valley as our activity for the day. I guess it got us out of the way while everything else happened for the staff with changing passengers. We were to have moored around 9.00 and left for the tour by 9.30 but didn’t dock in Mannum until almost 11.00 I think. Mardi from the woolshed was there with her minibus waiting for us and Jason came and got us and bustled us quickly away so we wouldn’t miss too much of what we were to have seen. Unfortunately this meant we did not get to say goodbye to Chris and Maria. One minute we were near them in the aft lounge and the next we were gone. It felt so rude and I was so sorry not to have been able to wish them all the best but it all happened in such a whirl.
Mardi loaded Heather, Ray, Donna, David and myself on the bus (a 15 seater the same as I used to have which made me all sentimental) along with a big picnic basket from the boat and off we went. Along the way Mardi was saying that she was sure she should have had 8 passengers and we suddenly realised that 3 of the others from our table had mentioned coming on this tour. Although they were disembarking today they had arranged to take the tour before going back to Adelaide! So Mardi had to turn around and then find Jason in order to find John and his wife and mother.
Eventually we were all loaded on and Mardi gave us a very interesting commentary as we drove along. Unfortunately, because of the amount of time that had been taken from us, we were going to miss one winery and would be a little rushed at the others but everyone was relaxed and happy and that’s the main thing.
Mardi announced the name of each town before we got to it and told us a little about each one plus interesting things about the terrain, rainfalls etc. At the mention of each town name I told David how big or small it was going to be because I knew how often I’d been asked for the places when I worked at directories and it has always proven to be a very reliable indicator. The first one I had never heard of and it turned out to be absolutely miniscule, which is exactly what I’d told David it would be. I’d never set foot in South Australia before this holiday but knew quite a bit about it LOL In this tiny town there were just a handful of houses, a closed down shop and a tiny pub.
At one point we passed a field and had been told that it contained the Springton Tree, or more precisely the ‘Herbig Tree’ and we were in Springton. I don’t usually put web links in my stories but because of our time limitations we were unable to stop and look at, or photograph, this tree so I’ve looked it up since. I was far more interested in this than in tasting wine but when you’re on a wine-tasting tour you can hardly complain hehehe. There are some good photos of the tree here Springton Tree Photos and the whole story of why it’s so fascinating here Springton Tree Information
After about an hour or so we stopped at a place with toilets, a souvenir shop and a café and had a look around before enjoying a cuppa and some scones with jam and cream. Very nice too! I bought a small gift for our house-sitter and a Christmas decoration which I was very happy with. One lovely thing here was that Heather and Ray’s daughter worked in the shop so we got to meet her. She seemed like a lovely person but that was no surprise given her gorgeous parents. As we crossed the carpark to get back on the bus a girl was coming towards us and got thoroughly hugged by Heather – it turned out the girl was her niece!
From this shop we travelled a bit more and drove up a fairly steep hill to a lookout where we could see the entire Barossa Valley laid out flat before us. We were surprised at what a small area it actually appeared to be. Then some more driving before we came to Chateau Tanunda winery. It was a lovely old stone building and there was a long bench table and chairs set out for us. First there was wine tasting at the bar where David entertained himself by letting me taste the wines he liked and seeing the screwed up face I would pull. Yuk yukkety yuk to dry and red!!! There was one sweet, ‘thick’ white dessert wine that really tickled my fancy though and he bought me a bottle to bring home. Now you’re talking 🙂
Here’s the entire 7 of the other passengers in this photo anyway. You can see Donna smiling from behind Ray then John and his wife from Forrestfield behind Donna and then John’s mother sitting down apparently at David’s shoulder.
After the tasting, and a laugh or three we sat down at the long table where Mardi had spread out the picnic lunch for us. We had plastic plates and all had salad, a chicken piece and ham on them so I just put my meat on David’s plate which didn’t leave me a lot. Mardi noticed immediately and got up to give me more salad from the container and I supplemented that with the little individually wrapped cheese that I’d been given to go with some cracker biscuits. Truly, after all the excesses, it was good to have a light meal. There were also bread rolls and butter so I was not left to go hungry. There was also something for dessert along the lines of a muesli bar or something similar – I really needed to write this closer to the happenings LOL David thinks it was bite-sized chocolate bars. Something along those lines anyway!
From here we went to another winery where David tasted some fortified things like port but quietly didn’t like them. I bought a small chocolate which was rather nice but not enough that I bought more to bring away. And then onwards with more driving and we went through the larger town of Angaston. We were told from behind us to look at the house on the right with the blinds down. It was Heather and Ray’s house!!! How amazing to go on a holiday tour past your own front door!
And, then out of time, we drove back towards the boat stopping only once to wait for Mardi’s dad to pick up John and his ladies who were not returning to the Princess. Goodbyes all round and then off we went again to see who we now had on board with us.
The new passengers were now noticeably younger which was interesting. People just enjoying a weekend break from work no doubt.
We had new flowers in our room but oh!!! they’d taken my daily newsletters away!!! I’d been keeping those as reminders of what we’d done each day so I didn’t have to keep notes! And we hadn’t had any chocolates left on our pillows the night before. I haven’t mentioned yet but every night during dinner our bed was turned down (only David’s side so I’m not sure if we were both supposed to sidle in from there hehehe) and a wrapped chocolate mint was left on each pillow but on Thursday night we didn’t get them!
Then came dinner and when the waitress asked which choice I wanted from the menu I said “Vegetarian please!” After a while she came back to say that the kitchen had forgotten about me, which was not actually a surprise after the ‘salad only’ lunch, but they would whip me up something. And they did – the most wonderfully delicious omelette I’ve ever had in my life!
The entertainment after dinner was Alex and his music and we just happily talked over him with our remaining 3 friends, Heather, Ray and Donna.
All of a sudden a drink was delivered to David from the bar. What a work of art!!! The bottom word is b.day as it had started to sink a bit by the time I took the photo.
How gorgeous of them! I think this was a joint idea of Jason and the lovely Ben – the best barman on earth!
Our new friend, Brad,(peeking from behind David’s cheek in the photo) declared ‘Happy Birthday!’ to everyone from this moment on for his entire 3 days aboard which caused lots of laughter.
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