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Fancy a cruise on the River Murray aboard an old Paddle Steamer? Well, you are in luck as the generous friends and volunteers of the PS Oscar W have arranged a series of cruise days on the Lower River Murray where everyone is invited.
The PS Oscar W was built in 1908 in Echuca, and adopted the box type paddle wheel most commonly seen in Upper Murray Paddle Steamers. The PS Oscar served the merchants of the Murray, Goulburn and Murrumbidgee rivers quite well until the early 1940's when faster roads and rail came to prominence. A short stint as a tourist vessel followed before the SA Government acquired her to service the ferries along the River Murray.
The PS Oscar was sold in the early 1960's and saw some commercial trade along the river before she was dry docked for restoration, a project that stalled for many years, and was finally completed in 1988 on behalf of the SA Tourist Commission.
In order to provide visitors with a real life experience of a paddle steamer, the friends have arranged for some short cruises along the river in and around Goolwa. The cruises operate once a month on a Sunday, with a number of extra trips scheduled around school holidays, public holidays and the Wooden Boat Festival. Click here for the cruising dates for the coming season with departures scheduled for 11am, 1230pm and 2pm on each day.
On board the cruise, and the PS Oscar W takes a short trip north past Hectors on the Wharf and under the tall Hindmarsh Island Bridge before turning and heading south past the Hindmarsh Island Marina towards the Goolwa Barrage where pelicans and other birds are often seen searching for a feed of fish, and NZ fur seals are seen sun baking.
The PS Oscar W then turns and heads back to the Goolwa Wharf tracking close to the western shore where various boaties in modern boats watch in awe. In the meantime visitors spend time watching the crew and the internal workings of the wood fired paddle steamer as more steam is generated to turn that massive paddle wheel.
Additional friends circulate amongst visitors providing a brief commentary on the PS Oscar W and the River Murray, and ensuring that all questions are answered. A one hour cruise on the PS Oscar W costs $20 per adult with discounts for concession holders, kids and families. Bookings are not essential but are preferred, while special charters and school trips are available for larger groups.
Outside of cruising days, the PS Oscar W lays docked at Goolwa Wharf. Visitors are encouraged to board and look around the old paddle steamer and to spend some time in the small museum which is part of the Goolwa Wharf Shed. For further information refer to the PS Oscar W website or the facebook page.