A relic from a bygone age

The Steamer’s work is past

Perhaps you heard the stories
And If indeed you ever

Great Grand Papa, ‘Remember -

When as a child you might

Have seen in all her glory’ -

‘Aye! A most romantic sight!’.


To remote communities          

Back in those pioneering days

The Paddleboat was the answer

In so very many ways.

For the river and her tributaries

To the interior supplied

The means of trade and passage

On which their lives relied.

From Goolwa and the coastal lakes

They steamed the river course

Passed rolling downs, historic towns

Reached only else by horse.

The landscape ever changing

Where weeping willows wend

And tall cliffs at the black swan reach

Appear around the bend.


There’s no intrusive engine growl 

And you never could mistake

The churning paddles raising spray

Left sparkling in her wake’

The only sign She’s passing

Drifts behind Her like a cloak

To become an ever floating veil

A plume of white wood smoke.


Reaching into dryer parts

The country now defined

By countless red regal river gums

Along the banks aligned.

Boats in every season plied

Even waters swelled by flood

And sometimes in the dry, upstream

Were stranded in the mud.

The Paddlesteamer’s glory days

Inevitably have passed

Modern transport, road and rail

Ordained they could not last.

Once proud vessels left to rot

Under some old willow tree

Just nostalgic relics now

All there remains to see.


But some who would remember

Dared to relive this dream

They have restored the romance    

That was the power of steam.

Now anyone who wishes

Come aboard those sights to see

Along the mighty Murray

Willows weep no more for me.


               Rodd Sherwin






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