When it comes to characters, I guess the first three you need to know about, are those taking their place onboard the trusty Trailcraft.
There’s me, David. School teacher, family man, all round good guy! Second on board is my brother Peter. He knows lots of stuff about computers, is married to the lovely Carolyn, and says he’s definitely up for a trip down the mighty Murray. Then there’s Middy. He knows stuff about electricty. If you live in Adelaide maybe you should thank him one day for the fact that your lights turn on when you flick the switch.
We are all interested in the things we see around us. That’s one of the reasons we’re doing this trip! In a bit more detail, here we are.
My travel experience around our country is reasonably extensive. I’m definitely a fan of our desert treks and have been fortunate enough to tackle the Birdsville and Strzelecki Tracks, the Tanami Track, the Gibb and King River Roads, the Bloomfield Track and various other more conventional roads in search of great scenery and conversations.
It’s not only 4 wheels that excites me. I enjoy a cruise on a sunny day on the Honda and I have an obsession for flying – my chosen craft, the Airborne Outback Microlight. I’ve spend plenty of time flying over the lower reaches of the Murray including Lake Alexandrina and the mouth. I agonise over how we at the very end of this vital water system might help the millions upstream, view the river’s health as a truly national issue.
In my ‘spare time’ I play some drums for Adelaide band ‘Silverhair’. Check us out on Facebook!
I’ll have a crack at most things and I’m looking forward to sharing my Murray Odyssey with Peter and Middy. Camping, fishing, conversation and laughter. Sensational!
Middy comes to the crew with a lot of 4WD trips under his belt including the Canning Stock Route in a solo vehicle but this is his first experience of long distance water travel.
His interests include music, photography and anything mechanical so the history of the river streamers is a natural target for his trusty digital camera. Australian history alive and preserved is something to see and I know Middy has a vast trove of historical trivia about the places along the way, just ready to be regurgitated at the most in-appropriate time. He tells me he can “Build stuff and fix stuff” but I have heard that he can also cook a bit and has been known to bend the facts around the truth in the cause of a good story.
Middy’s hard won knowledge of beer and breweries will be tested by the remote locations but I am confident he can assist in the location of suitable supplies along the way.
While Peter has not had the outback travel experience of the other crew members the fascination with the River Murray, the need for a physical challenge rather than the usual mental challenges of work and bonding with other blokes made this an obvious choice to be involved in.
In his spare time Peter enjoys socialising and spending time with friends and family. Whenever there is a chance Peter and Carolyn enjoy exploring new locations usually including lots of walking and bike riding. Peter enjoys the arts scene especially this time of year in Adelaide with Fringe, Festival and Cabaret events.
Peter also enjoys researching just about anything that takes his interest and enjoys “fixing” or giving a second life to what some may consider junk! If it can help someone out, then all the better. Nothing is impossible -a shed is an important place for a man!
Spending time with brother Captain David and the other blokes to chew the fat and enjoy the stunning yet simplistic Murray and watch it change from bend to bend will be a breath of fresh air.
Motto Guzzi Man and BMW Boy
The title makes them sound like superheros, and to an extent, they are.
We met them near the ferry at Swan Reach on the weekend of our trial run, with a nicely preserved pair of early ‘80’s bikes. I don’t know enough about Motto Guzzi’s to tell you which model the red bike was but it was clean tidy and well used. Not worn but used. It had that look of a favourite tool kept in good fettle because it did the job well and was kept for that reason. The BMW was an R65, so therefore at the small end of the range, and not one of the popular models but again, a machine that was looked after.
They were mates who kept in touch despite living 100km or so apart. They had met up near Mannum for a ride together on a beaut summer Saturday afternoon. Last we saw them was the pipes of the Guzzi disappearing around the curve of the small cliff which carries the road, up around the pub. They were making that distinctive Guzzi sound as he cracked the throttle a little and the bike began to come up on song.
So why are they potential super heroes? Well they both valued the experience of shared experience! They were willing to put in the time, in probably very busy lives, to share a passion for friends and good machinery. The combination makes them spiritual people, or at least thoughtful people, willing to act on values they hold.
Such people should be celebrated in our society!
Marvin the Mixer
We met Marvin in Mildura during the Festival. There was a local regae/covers band playing in the main street and we stopped in front of the Brewery to taste their excellent wares and checkout the band. The band were pretty good and kept our interest with the huge muscular drummer alternating on lead vocals out front next to an equally muscular keyboard player.
It was during one of the changes that I noticed Marvin standing in the crowd, front of stage and about halfway back. He had a tablet computer and appeared to be making notes. I thought he might be a journalist or somebody from the festival.
After a while I became a little more intrigued and sauntered over for a chat.
He was mixing the sound for the band! The tablet had an equalizer displayed across the screen and the “notes” I saw him make we’re adjustments to the mix as band members moved around.
He was quite happy to chat about the hardware and casually made a couple of adjustments as we talked. All the band gear was plugged into the main rack back behind the stage and he had full control of everything from where he stood. What a change from the miles of cabling and enormous desk in a traditional setup! Yet he was quite casual as he showed me the saved setups from bands he had worked with recently. Again, what a change from the dog eared exercise book with some scrawled notes about the set-up used last time.
About this time the musicians amongst us picked up on the conversation and joined in. The technicalities quickly went over my head but I continued to be impressed by the technology and Marvin’s easy acceptance of it, and his deft hand with the mix.
The amount of activity in a community not directly related to production is a measure of the health of a community, in my opinion. Sports, spirituality, art and music are the big ones. Marvin was in the midst of a vibrant music scene in a rural city hundreds of kilometres from the Big Smoke but regarded it as natural.
Grape Girl was a lovely lady who brightened our already excellent evening in Mildura. We were amongst the Festival crowd and thinking about the options for a meal along the closed off main drag, when she appeared in a bright purple suit with 6 inch grapes attached all over. The smile and the personality shone through the somewhat accoutrements, she even took our gentle jibes in her stride.
Her task was general crowd entertainment and specifically enticing people to the grape pressing competition. We actually missed the competition, enticed by a steak at the Sandbar, but… thank you Grape Girl for adding a sparkle to our night out in Mildura
Fabulous Phil and Jovial John
Quite late in our planning for this trip we found the Lock 8 was to out of service for maintenance during the period we planned to pass through. A problem, given that Lock 8 is quite remote and the really is no alternative.
John proved quite helpful in early exploratory phone calls and provided guidance about the practicality of the various schemes proposed. His calm manner and optimistic sense of humour provided us with the encouragement to work through a solution.
The way around involved a complex ballet of boat trailer manoeuvres involving two road crews, two separate trips to the lock and much head scratching, but we got both boats past Eight and on the way to other adventures.
Meeting John in person was a real pleasure as we saw a smiling nuggetty man with years of the outdoor life behind him and a ready smile. The handshake was firm and the dry laconic bush sense of humour evident.
We met Phil when we landed at Lock 8 and John was busy with the blokes working on the lock. He is John’s offsider and the perfect bookend to John. Taller and with an impish smile in a sun worn face he took time from what must have been a busy timetable to assist us getting organized for the Great Boat Shuffle.
Thanks John! Thanks Phil!