2021 River Ramble


The first of  seven locks on the Murray River in South Australia, the Blanchetown Lock was opened in 1922. The lock is named the William Randall Lock honouring a pioneer of river navigation in the mid-1800's. Originally, the river crossing was by ferry (now boat launching ramps). They were superseded by a bridge, but a new bridge was later built to handle the large B-Double trucks that were brought into service. The old bridge has an excellent view of Lock 1 and flocks of pelicans and other birds that feed downstream of the spillway. The Blanchetown cliffs provide good views of the river and hide a wealth of fossils that were laid down when the area was a shallow sea.

Although My Lady was moored at Murray Bridge when they bought it, Mark and Alexa have had their houseboat moored at the Blanchetown Boat Haven Marina since 2004 (17 years in 2021). It provides an excellent staging point to go up and down the river. It has the convenience of a Waste Disposal Station just downstream of the bridges before Lock 1. Historic Blanchetown Hotel is within walking distance of the marina and the town has a couple of general stores and road house on the highway. The large township of Waikerie is only 20 minutes away (by car) if more comprehensive shopping is required.

My Lady is normally moored in the marina near where the white course line ends, but at the time the satellite took the image, it was out on a Christmas Cruise. Because the images along the river are from different dates and times, it appears that My Lady has disappeared from the river, but it hadn't been taken from the river or sunk - it's just an artefact of the way Google Maps work.

2021 RMBOA River Ramble Begins

For Mark and Alexa, preparation for the RMBOA River Ramble started  well over a  week before the actual Ramble start. Mark and Alexa had not been out on the boat since their 2020 Christmas Cruise. They had been involved in other activities in Adelaide, as well as travelling to Darwin for a visit and returning on the Ghan. After a few months away from the boat, there was lots to do - remove all the built-up cobwebs, refuel the boat, fill the water tanks, empty the black water tanks, restock the pantry, plus all of those maintenance tasks that are required - My Lady is, after all, both a house and a boat.

One of the first issues that arose resulted from the Fruit Fly outbreak that was current at the time. All of the fruit shops and supermarket around Mark and Alexa's home were in exclusion zones and the fruit shop that they normally go to outside of the zone was closed for some reason. As a result, they had to go shopping for fruit in Waikerie before departure. It takes days to get to Waikerie along the river, but luckily it is only 20 minutes away by car.

The next problem was solved fortuitously when Mark saw the houseboat Nosso Tempo moored on the other side of the river when he was going to walk Marduk. Since Mark knew the owners Chris and Linda, he decided to walk to dog over to see them. When he arrived, he heard that the Waste Disposal Station pump-out had failed. Quite inconvenient, as My Lady needed to be pumped out. Luckily however, Chris had arranged for the alternative  pump-out truck to pump out their boat. After pumping out Nosso Tempo, "Thomas the Turd Tank" (actual name of the truck) came over to the marina and pumped out My Lady. It was certainly much easier than going to the pump-out and dragging the hoses around, but if the WDS was working, it would have cost about $90 to $100 per boat.

Later Mark saw that a couple of boats that he recognised were moving upstream from Lock 1 to the starting point of the 2021 RMBOA River Ramble. Even though My Lady had one of the closest home ports to the start of the Ramble, it certainly wasn't going to be the first boat there.