Mildura Weekly : Friday July 18 Vol 8 No 37
www.milduraweekly.com.au 20 Mildura Weekly – 18/07/14 By GRANT MAYNARD WHEN Wentworth’s grand old dame of the rivers – the Paddle Steamer Ruby – cruises down the Murray River to the equally historic Chowilla Station in September, it will be re- visiting familiar territory. The sheep station, outside Renmark, was a common stopover for riverboats plying the lower Murray – to take on fire wood, drop off supplies, and to take away the huge property’s wool clip. Chowilla is cel- ebrating its 150th birthday this year, and the PS Ruby board is keen to help the station’s owners celebrate in style. The 94,000-hectare Chowilla of today re- mains a sheep station, and is owned and op- erated by the Robertson family. The family’s objective is to run the property on a sustain- able basis whilst conserving its natural, his- toric and cultural values. It has opened its gates to the public in re- cent years, and what were once the shearers’ quarters now offer a unique accommodation experience. The self-contained quarters offer affordable lodgings for families and groups, comprising 11 separate bedrooms containing 27 beds in total. Historically, the station traces its roots back to 1864, when Richard Holland ob- tained the Bookmark Station lease for his stepsons John, William and Robert Robert- son. Bookmark extended from Spring Car Gully, near Berri, through to the NSW border. This was before any other white settlement in the area, and it was from the Bookmark lease that the South Australian Government carved the Chaffey Brothers 30,000 acres in 1887 to establish the Renmark irrigation colony. In 1896, Bookmark was divided up into the Calperum and Chowilla Stations, with Robert taking Chowilla and John, Calperum. Chowilla is still owned by Roberston- Chowilla Pty Ltd, and operated by Jock and Lis Robertson, as the principal shareholders. The current lease for Chowilla is as a re- gional reserve Crown Lease, administered by the Department for Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal Affairs under the National Parks and Wildlife Act. This allows for mul- tiple use of the area. The Chowilla region has a rich history. Its occupa- tion by Aborigines, for example, dates back about 12,000 years. The Aborigi- nal word Chow- illa (or ‘Tjowilla’) is reported to mean “place of spirits and ghosts,” although the Robertson family record the interpretation as “good camping place.” The shearing shed was constructed in the 1870s of timber (local pine) and iron. In 1881, 70,250 sheep were shorn there. This in- cluded sheep from Calperum and Boundary Run. Chowilla Station is very much an entity in its own right, as it always has been, and is proud to be a land partner in the Bookmark Biosphere Reserve. The lure of the station’s history, and great natural beauty is what the PS Ruby board of management is hoping will attract people to its cruise. Board chairman Bill Nicol said the three- day downstream cruise, and the four-day upstream return, offered an experience that would be hard to find anywhere in the world. The board has quite a few bookings for the outgoing leg. It leaves Wentworth on Thursday, September 18, arriving at Chowilla on Saturday, the 20th, in time for the station’s big birthday bash that evening. The day after the Ruby will be offering a number of short cruises before heading off to Renmark, and a day’s rest. Now the board is keen to book a few berths for the return leg. It will leave Renmark on Tuesday, September 23, arriving back in Wentworth on Friday, the 26th. “We have to be back on the Friday,” Mr Ni- col said. “We have a couple of Country Music Festival cruises booked the following day.” Mr Nicol said, in an effort to make the Chowilla cruise accessible to more people, there were also a number of day passes avail- able to passengers for both the downstream and upstream legs. “That means that people will be able to get on and off the boat at a number of desig- nated stops along the way,” he said. For more information on the Chowilla cruise, or to make a booking, contact the Wen- tworth Visitor Information Centre. Meanwhile, the Ruby is cruising this week- end, and there are still some berths left. The Ruby is offering a combination of overnight or day cruises, from Wentworth to Mildura to- morrow, with the return leg on Sunday. The overnight cruise includes meals and accommodation, and tickets cost $195 twin share. Day, and shorter cruise options, are also being offered. On Day 1, the Saturday, Wen- tworth to Mildura Homestead – 9am to 4pm and including a meal is $75 per person. The deal is the same on Day 2, the Sunday, Mildura Homestead to Wentworth – 10.30am to 4pm. Other, shorter cruises are available at $35, and include either morning or afternoon tea. Once again, for more details, or to make a booking, contact the Wentworth Visitor Infor- mation Centre on (03) 5027 5080 or in per- son at 66 Darling Street, Wentworth. Venerable Ruby prepares to visit historic Chowilla • HISTORY ON DISPLAY: Wentworth’s Paddle Steamer Ruby will be making its way down the Murray River to Chowilla Station in September, past colourful cliffs, BELOW, for a ‘birthday bash’ in the station’s woolshed, LEFT. Junction Island in science student spotlight WENTWORTH’S Junction Island has been under the close scrutiny this week by a group of Certifi- cate 111 Conservation and Land Management students from the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT). Accompanied by teachers Mi- chael Blasch and John Ellis, the 14 students made a cultural survey of the island, as well cataloguing flora species, taking soil samples, and completing the preliminary study for a proposed boardwalk. The CIT group arrived Sun- day, worked on the island through to Wednesday, before leaving for Mungo yesterday. The group will travel home to Canberra tomorrow. The day on the island gener- ally started about 8am, and the work itinerary also included a couple of night visits. With the blessing of Went- worth Shire Council, the students and their teachers were billeted aboard the historic Paddle Steam- er Ruby. “Council has been very sup- portive,” Wentworth’s Steve Hed- erics said. Steve was instrumental in organising the CIT Junction Is- land visit, and is at the forefront of community efforts to have the island become a beacon for travel- ling Aussies. Steve is hopeful that the group’s Junction Island report, due in September, will be another step towards the development of the island as a ‘must-see destina- tion’ for adventurous Australians. The plan is to construct a board walk along the length of the island, taking people safely, and without damaging the island environment, to see the conflu- ence of the nation’s two mightiest rivers. Suitably developed while keeping both the potential visitor and environment in mind, Steve can see the day when a visit to the junction would be “right up there” with pilgrimages to Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef, or Mount Kosciuszko. Mr Blasch attended Went- worth Shire Council’s monthly meeting on Wednesday morning to thank Councillors for their hospitality, and to give them an overview of the work the group had been doing. He also added that bedding down aboard the Ruby was prefer- able to sleeping in tent! Head Office 424 San Mateo Avenue Mildura, Victoria, 3500 T (03) 5021 1777 F (03) 5021 1733 E firstname.lastname@example.org W www.milduraweekly.com.au Riverland Office 20 Kay Avenue, Berri, South Australia 5343 Available for just $20 at both Mildura & Riverland offices of the Mildura Weekly. Please note: Correct money needed at Riverland office. RI1407_005_MW Part Time (Casual) Te aching Opportunities Riverina Institute is now accepting applications for placement on a suitability list for the following areas: BUSINESS – Business Administration – Retail EDUCATION PATHWAYS – Adult Literacy and Numeracy Salary Rates Te aching Duties – $75.05 per hour Coordination – $70.55 per hour Duties other than Te aching – $59.26 per hour NB: It is an offence for a person convicted of a serious sex of fence or registrable offence to apply for this position. 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