All aboard the Murray Princess!
What a beautiful trip I have had again on the Murray River. A quick flight to Adelaide and a coach trip take us to Mannum, the home of the Murray Princess. The Princess is a majestic paddle wheeler that glides serenely along the river.
We board the Princess on Monday afternoon. On the first night the kitchen have produced dinner using my menu. We are introduced to the crew and get to meet our table-mates. There is live entertainment in the dining room, and also an upper deck where it is just beautiful to watch the sun go down and soak up the beautiful landscape, sunset and birdlife.
On Tuesday Captain Ray Weedon gives a talk about the boat, the river and its rich history.
After lunch I do the first of my cooking demos. It’s an Italian theme, and I make hand-made gnocchi and spinach and ricotta cannelloni. While I demonstrate in the dining room, the team in the kitchen are making sure there is enough for everybody to try with complimentary wine.
The boat secures at Blanchetown and we travel the short distance to Burk Salter vineyard. I remember enjoying this immensely last year and look forward to trying the latest offerings. I order a few bottles of wine and take advantage of the free shipping special to have it sent straight home!
After dinner we run the Murray Cup, which is a special evening and really has to be experienced to get the hilarity of it all.
On Wednesday we set off again, cruising through the magnificent cliffs of the river. The birdlife is prolific, thousands of wheeling cockatoos, lorikeets, eagles soaring above the cliffs and pelicans following the paddle wheel looking for a feed.
My second demo is all about making dinner party dishes simple. After the demo we feast on scallops and chicken ballotyne while sipping wine. The passengers are very friendly and it’s a great fun atmosphere.
We arrive at Sunnydale and disembark for a barbecue dinner. There is a really cool area set up which feels as though we have been stranded on Gilligan’s Island. If I am ever stranded, I hope it is with a terrific barbecue (which starred many tasty treats including roo steaks), live entertainment and Gary the barman tending the bar!
The staff form a terrific bush band and entertain us all with their antics.
There’s a nocturnal wildlife-spotting tour for the brave and dancing for the silly. (My mum and dad, along for the cruise, show us how rock’n’roll is done)
On Thursday we pull up at Naught Naught, widely recognised as one of the most significant Aboriginal architectural digs in Australia.
Tribal elders have returned here to share their stories and and explain the dig and the many carvings.
The view from the top of the cliff is breathtaking.
Today my demo is all about sweet treats. I abandon the cooking about two thirds of the way through and we all have a big chat instead. I answer questions about all kinds of things and we enjoy several desserts along with a beautiful glass of port.
Thursday evening is the Captain’s dinner. Everybody dresses up and Captain Ray shouts us all drinks. The buffet is then revealed by the chefs in the kitchen, and it is a stunning array of beautiful seafood.
More music and dancing, and a drink on the top deck to quietly contemplate the end of this lovely, picturesque interlude.
Friday is time to disembark and go home. After two trips, the Murray Princess crew are starting to feel like family and I do hope I get to enjoy their company again. What a wonderful trip, what a beautiful country we live in.