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Kingfisher Cruises

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by Neil Follett (subscribe)
I'm a retired photographer living in Lilydale mainly researching and writing on Australian aviation history. Now writing more on general subjects.
Published March 17th 2019
A unique experience in a unique location
\You get three Kingfishers with this tour. The company, Kingfisher Cruises, the boat, M.V. Kingfisher and the bird, the Azure Kingfisher.

The sign at the cruise site.

Owner/Operator of Kingfisher Cruises is Benita Cox. Benita has a double degree in Applied Science - Parks, Recreation & Heritage & Applied Science – Eco Tourism from Charles Sturt University. She is also a qualified Eco-guide.

The boat, M.V. Kingfisher is a very shallow draft twin-hulled vessel. The original Kingfisher was destroyed by arson in 2005.

The M.V. Kingfisher gliding up the Murray to welcome aboard the passengers.

The current Kingfisher was built in Port Macquarie, making its maiden voyage on 1 January 2006.

Our cruise vessel nears the embarkation point.

The bird. The Azure Kingfisher is the second smallest of the Kingfisher species. (slightly smaller than the common starling.) The Kookaburra being the largest.

Azure Kingfishers
Two Azure Kingfishers displaying their colourful plumage.

The Azure Kingfisher is a very shy bird and often can only be seen because of its bright plumage.

Benito is very experienced at sighting them and will slow her boat down to a stop for us passengers to observe the splash of colour among the foliage they are perched upon.

Azure Kingfishers
They never sat in the one place for very long.

The two hour cruise travels 8 kms along Murray River upstream from the Barmah Lake Day Visitors area. Most of the cruise is through what is known as the Barmah Choke, the narrowest section of the Murray between Albury and the ocean. The current there can run as high as seven kph, almost twice the Murray's normal current.

An occasional optimist was spotted.

On both sides of the Murray vast stands of river red gums dominate the landscape, some said to be hundreds of years old.

Although the Azure Kingfisher with its blue and orange plumage is the most spectacular bird observed, there are many others to see.

Sitting upon a dead branch overhanging the river was a gulp of cormorants, minding their business until we came along.

A gulp of cormorants ignoring us.

At the entrance to the Barmah Lakes a pod of pelicans rested in the shallows oblivious to our passing.
A pod of pelicans enjoying a rest.

A few cockatoos were sighted as were several white egrets.

A white egret on the river bank.

A single white faced heron was passed, sitting calmly on a dead tree branch.

A white heron calmly sitting on a branch as we passed.

A one stage of our cruise, Benito drew our attention to two sea eagles circling overhead in search of dinner.

She is a font of knowledge about the river, its history, and the fauna and flora along its banks. That knowledge is passed on much to the education and interest of all aboard.

Benita, our captain, navigator and tour guide.

The cruise departs at 10.30 am every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. The cost is $40-00 per person.

Bookings are essential and can be made by phone at 03 5855 2855 or email at, [email protected].

I have personally been on three Kingfisher cruises and each one was different. On one, when river levels were high we entered the Barmah Lake and spent some time slowly moving among the gums often within touching distance. It was a unique experience.

The Barmah Lake Day Visitor Area is 7 kms from the town of Barmah. Turn left at the Barmah Hotel.
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Phone: 03 5855 2855
Where: 564 Moira Lakes Rd, Barmah VIC 3639
Cost: $40-00 per person
Your Comment
What a beautiful article. Well written, detailed, and featuring excellent pictures. Thank you!
by Michael Genrich (score: 3|1886) 1555 days ago
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