Spirit of the Murray Cruise: Amber visits historic Kulcurna Station north of Renmark in the Riverland region of South Australia

We're on board the legendary Spirit of the Murray on the final day of a five day cruise of this remarkable waterway. Heading upstream from Renmark we get to see just how tight our hold on the river is as we carefully enter Lock 6 - one of the many that help keep river at so-called 'pool' level. As the water is pumped in, it's an opportunity for passengers to reflect on what they've seen.

Don, Passenger: "Interesting to see the various landscapes and the effect the weirs have on the flow of the river…" Barbara, Passenger: "It's been one of the best things we've done in Australia and we've done lots. What makes you say that? The river - every time you turn a corner it's different…"

The Welcome Swallows escort us all the way and like the Spirit of the Murray, they know no borders as they gracefully glide from one state to the next. The river lives up to its reputation of constant change when we arrive at a sharp bend known as Devil's Elbow. Here, the spectacular gums lining the river banks suddenly stop - and give way to a bald, barren moonscape.

Trevor Bedford, Spirit of the Murray Skipper: "You've got gum forests either side of the river and all of a sudden there's this area of complete, barren brown and grey clay. It was probably set down by the sea, when we were covered by the sea 200-million years ago; it would have been unearthed by the river about 20-million years ago."

About a kilometre along, the eerie bald cliffs end and the trees reclaim the riverbank. It's just another example of the Murray's extremes and so is our next stop - Kulcurna Station…

It's here that we meet Paul Hansen, drover, ex 'roo shooter and wool classer - a real river legend around these parts. Kulcurna was once a sprawling 100,000 acre station midway between Renmark and Wentworth and has been in Paul's family since the 1850s…

Paul Hansen, 'Kulcurna Station': "In 1915 my grandfather and his family sowed a crop of oats in the bed of the river here for about 3 kilometres. They started sowing in April and stripped the crop in November so all that period of time there was absolutely no flow came done the river at all. They got the crop off the night before the water came.

"If it wasn't for the locks we would have been dry, this is just my opinion, probably for the last 2 to 3 years."

As we tucked into the traditional country spread, Paul brought the hey days of the river back to life in song. Back on board and as our cruise comes to an end it's been an enlightening experience for a lot of passengers - particularly those from the east coast.

Passenger: "I was fascinated to find how much water is in the Murray actually because you do get conflicting reports about that and that was one of the reasons we came too wasn't it to check that out."

Regardless of the politics and power-plays one thing remains certain. The River Murray still holds plenty of magic no matter which way you choose to enjoy it. One of the best ways is on board the Spirit of the Murray which operates a number of cruises on various stretches of the river. Contact Spirit Australia Cruises on toll free - 1800 442 203. If you have any further questions please email info@postcards-sa.com.au

Spirit Australia Cruises
Toll Free 1800 442 203

Published 25th April 2010

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