Kendall Jennings, The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper
Koondrook Barham was graced with a visit by the paddlesteamer Emmylou on Tuesday afternoon, September 14. Built in Barham in the 1980s and named after American country singer Emmylou Harris, the vessel is a small motel catering for 16 passengers and a small crew of three or four. This was the first visit from PS Emmylou in 38 years and was shadowed by the Pride of the Murray on its Echuca return leg. The Pride of the Murray is returning from Swan Hill, where it was in the dry dock for maintenance.
The wood-fired side wheel PS Emmylou is owned by Murray River Paddle Steamers in Echuca, where patrons can book various cruises on the Murray River. PS Emmylou has been recently renovated, and now encompasses the mid-1800s charm with modern comforts, giving a relaxing time on the Murray River with everything catered for. The vessel is steam and is kept warm while on tour with a two to three-hour warm-up before steam pressure is correct.
PS Emmylou has a film star history; it was used as PS Providence in the television mini-series ‘All The Rivers Run’ which starred Sigrid Thornton, John Waters, and the late Bud Tingwell.
The Murray River was the main trade route for goods before rail and the automobile took hold. The Murray was notorious for many paddle steamers’ crews getting caught off guard, leading to sinking vessels and perishable goods being left to rot on the banks.
Currently, paddlesteamers must be extra careful with the deterioration of the riverbanks as many trees have fallen into the water. However, with the Murray River’s current height, snags were not an issue on this trip, with PS Emmylou arriving at the Koondrook Wharf a day earlier than expected. With the river’s current height, the return trip to Echuca will be more time-consuming, going against the river current upstream.
PS Emmylou hopes to make further trips to Koondrook while river heights and COVID-19 restrictions allow.
This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 16 September 2021.