Echuca is located on the banks of the Murray River in the state of Victoria, Australia.
Mention ‘Echuca’, and most people will identify it with paddle steamers. A few might say Tisdall Wines, but most will go with the good old paddle steamers!
The town thrives on tourism and the local council has successfully transformed the old wharf area into a great money spinner. The wharf, as seen in the above photo, was originally three times longer and was a busy, thriving hub back in the 1870’s.
At this time, Echuca was the largest inland port of Australia; being the closet point on the Murray River to the state’s capital city of Melbourne. The paddle steamers, usually pulling barges, carried cargoes of wool, grains, livestock and timber.
The ‘Pevensey’ was built as a barge in 1910 and was later converted to a paddle steamer. As a result, she sits broad on the water and in my opinion, her wide hips are very attractive 🙂
In 1923, the ‘Alexander Arbuthnot’ was built upstream from Echuca at a little place called Koondrook. In 1947, she sank at her moorings and eventually, in 1989, she was raised and restored by the Echuca Council.
The tiny ‘Etona’ was built in 1898 and was used by the clergy of the Church of England to perform services up and down the river. Funds were initially sent out from England to assist with her build and as you’ve probably guessed, her name derives from Eton College in England.
The ‘Emmylou’ was built in 1982 making her a bit of a newie! However, having said that, she is powered by a restored 1906 steam engine!
Providing a distinctive back drop to the mighty Murray River, is ‘the bush’. I spent a good deal of my youth gallivanting through here, as Echuca is not only the home of the paddle steamers, but it is also where I was born and bred!
Having left over twenty years ago, my recent visit was a trip down memory lane. It was wonderful to once more hear the steam whistles tooting and the softly toned clap, clap, clapping of the turning paddle wheels.
As for the bush with it’s uniquely scented gum trees, combined with a hint of dusty breath, well it just gets me every time! I love it! It’s the smell of home…