Paddle steamers commenced plying the Murray Darling river system back in 1851. Wool and supplies were shipped from as far north as Bourke on the Darling when river levels permitted. And the wait must have been interminable when the country was gripped by drought. Even nowadays when the river levels are controlled by dams and weirs and locks and all things mechanical it is still surprising to see how the levels fluctuate.
Today a colourful assortment of boats still ply the river carrying tourists. Some of these boats like the PS Melbourne and PS Coonawarra are beautifully restored and others like PS Emmylou are faithful replicas. It is always a joy to hear the toot of a steam whistle when staying at the Buronga Caravan Park on the Murray near Mildura as the PS Melbourne slap slaps her way up and down the river with a guaranteed cargo of happy fare paying tourists.