Tea Gardens goes to River Murray tells Margaret Wheatley FEATURED Tea Gardens, Hawks Nest by NOTA - August 27, 2014 A GROUP consisting of twenty-nine Grange residents and three other locals flew to Adelaide on the 10th August to join a 5 night cruise on the River Murray in the Proud Mary, a small motor vessel on which we were the only occupants. A crew of 6 catered for our every need – wonderful meals, bar service, entertainment, and lots of information about the river- its history and its environs. The cruise has an ecological emphasis, studying the land formations, the natural flora and fauna, as well as the introduced and unwelcome plants and animal life. Our Captain Dave explained the effect of the European Carp which has infested the river and created the opaque appearance by their feeding habits, and the planting of the willows originally to mark the river bank, but now a pest because of the leaf fall in autumn creating water problems. We were introduced to the very shy Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat on a night tour under spotlight through their known burrow areas. They can be seen in large numbers on some nights but our visit only yielded 10 sightings – still very rewarding for us! Numerous shore excursions gave us insights into local industry and places of interest, including an almond orchard and an aquaculture farm, an old museum, scenic walks, and a visit to a local primary school at Mypolonga, where the pupils are given the unique experience of creating a business enterprise and running a school shop. It was an eye-opener for all of us in this little out-of-the way township surrounded by dairy farms. As well as informative excursions there was plenty of time for relaxing on the boat and enjoying the river views and activity as we sailed up stream to the first lock at Blanchtown and then back to our starting point at Murray Bridge. One night a campfire BBQ on the banks of the river with musical entertainment, and our last night the Captains Dinner of 5 courses were two highlights. After disembarking late on Friday 15th our final night of the trip was spent in the 5-star Hilton in the heart of Adelaide, treating us to a bit of luxury before heading home. The general concensus was that it is an experience to be recommended if you are fairly fit and don’t mind a few stairs between decks. Our group thoroughly enjoyed it.