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Cruising along the Murray
Cruising along the Murray
Ben on the Murray

Big Bend by Night

Thursday, June 13, 2002
Take a trip down memory lane in a paddle-steamer and check out the Murray!

Paddle-steamers are a fundamental part of Australia's heritage and played an important role in the lives of pioneers. During South Australia's early days, more than 200 plied the Murray River day and night negotiating treacherous passages, hidden reefs and huge sandbars.

PS Princess Murray, Australia's largest and most luxurious paddle-wheeler, has two, three and five-night cruises out of Mannum. All meals and accommodation, cocktail parties, buffets and à la carte dining are offered. Schedules include tours to Aboriginal sites and a very special visit to Big Bend, a Swan Reach sheep station owned and run by David LeBrun who puts on a show for visitors.

Princess Murray docks at the property and is met by three carts to transport passengers to the station for the show. One cart is drawn by motorbike, one by bus and one by a tractor.

The show is held in a grandstand made of hay bales and has a waterproof, thatched roof. David’s daughter, Mardi, gives commentary as David goes through the sheep-shearing process.

What starts out to be a regular exhibition of sheep-shearing takes a sudden turn when a curtain is raised and the sheep fashion parade begins. Four older and two young models participate and wear a variety of garments from tutus, swimsuits, G-strings and leotards, with Norm, the only bloke in the parade, wearing boxer shorts, hat and a Jackie Howe singlet, with tie. David says he's always on the lookout for replacement garments as the models tend to eat their way through them!

Audiences get a great charge out of the show and there is much clapping and laughter. The sheep accept being the centre of attention quite calmly — maybe they know there are treats in store after the last wardrobe change?

There's more fun to be had with sheep racing, and David — who is an experienced auctioneer — really gets the mood going. The contestants are "sold" with cash raised going to the winner.

Princess Murray shows happen every Wednesday, but independent shows can be arranged.


Near Mannum on the Murray River


PS Princess Murray Cruises have two-night cruises starting at $390 per person twin share.
Big Bend by Night Tours cost $8.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Captain Cook Cruises
96 Randell Street Mannum 5238
Ph: 1800 804 843
Big Bend
Box 61 Swan Reach 5354
Ph: (08) 8570 1097

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