Home Made Crutch, MacGyver Style

My partner, Enigma, recently had a bad fall and did her ankle in. Nothing broken thankfully but painful enough to make walking nearly impossible.

Initially Enigma was using an old student office chair (with coaster wheels) to get around on which was proving to be awkward, impractical and still quite painful on her ankle. Me, being the creative person that I am, went out to the shed, MacGyver style, to see what we had to make some kind of crutch.

After some searching I brought together our mop handle, the handle off the end of a spade, a rubber stopper, a towel and some tape (couldn't find a use for a paperclip) to fashion the very effective temporary crutch you can see in the photo.

Whilst, ultimately, it didn't get a lot of use after about day two of Enigma's ordeal it did come in handy for a trip down to the chemist to fill a script for pain killers. The Women at the chemist was very impressed with my makeshift crutch too.

Enigma said on the day she twisted her ankle she had planned to vacuum and mop the floors the following day. I should have left the mop head on the end of the handle!

NavMan: Telling YOU Where To Go!

Traveling to Port Broughton and Moonta with the aid of a NavMan was something of a new experience for me. My partner, Enigma, was doing the driving so I had plenty of time to observe this little technological marvel from the passenger seat.

If you're like me, able to get yourself from A to B (most of the time) using old fashioned maps and street directories, then you might appreciate the following explanation; A NavMan or, I presume, Navigational Manager, is a little electronic device with an LCD display that attaches to the windscreen (usually) of your car and tells you how to get where you're going through the use of real time animated maps, voice instructions and GPS (global positioning system) data. (See my photo above).

Before this invention the term Navigational Manager and Passenger were interchangeable as many of us drivers relied on our memory and the map reading skills (or lack there of) of our passengers to direct us to where we were going.

A NavMan completely eliminates the need to even read a map. Simply enter the data of where your trip starts and where you want to go and let your NavMan direct you, as you're driving, with a smug, yet still, somehow, emotionless voice of a person who knows better than you. It'll tell you where to go.

I learnt that you shouldn't argue with a NavMan and that NavMans should have an I told you so mode because, if anyone is going to make a mistake in getting there, it'll be you. The Human Error in the system.

For example, on our way to the Cornish Festival in the town of Moonta, we passed through the town of Kadina. For some strange reason NavMan directed us through the town on one side of the town centre, on some big back street loop, that took several minutes, and got us to a point at the other end of the town centre that both Enigma and I could clearly see we could have got to in seconds simply by driving through the town centre its self. Both of us thought the NavMan was just being stupid.

On the way home we passed back through Kadina and this time the NavMan directed us straight through the town centre where we discovered the main street was two lanes of one way traffic only. It was at this point I concluded the NavMan needed an I told you so mode.

Don't argue with the NavMan - it knows what it's doing. Even if you think it doesn't it'll still, politely, tell you where to go!

Public Toilet Tourism: Art Where You Go

There seems to be a growing trend in Australian Public Amenities (i.e. public toilet blocks) where councils cover them in art, thus turning them into a tourist attraction.

Far from the usual graffiti attacks that often befall Public Toilet Blocks (as well as the occasional, more artistic but still unwanted graffiti 'pieces') I'm talking about a council taking a considered approach to decorating their public facilities then adding the artwork to the local tourist trail.

I first encountered this in the almost a ghost town of Iron Knob, South Australia, where our tour guide directed Rose and I to what he called 'the most photographed toilet block in Australia'. A big call at the time but I did take a photo so one can assume just about everyone he showed it to does.

The toilet block in question couldn't be more Australian with the word 'Dunny' emblazoned across it as part of a mural created by the town's former local artist.

Recently, on our trip to Port Broughton, Enigma and I came across this impressive mural on the toilet block along side the historic jetty. I don't know if it has been made a local tourist attraction but if not it should be. I thought it was worth taking a photo of so no doubt other people do too.

Clearly this mural is a considered work that had to have been commissioned by council in order to achieve such a complete painting of the whole block.

To continue this possible trend I noticed when Enigma and I were in the town of Bute, South Australia, their public toilet block had a mural of the main street painted across one entire wall.

Whilst I didn't take a photo I did notice that the town's tourist brochure of 'things to do and see in Bute' included a photo of the toilet block mural as part of its heritage trail walk.

A few years back I also heard of an Australian town (possibly South Australian but I'm not sure) that rallied together with much fund raising activities in order to turn their entire public toilet block into a work of art - specifically to turn it into a tourist attraction. Way to go - literally!

I'm sure there must be book documenting this phenomenon somewhere? If not there should be.

If you know of, or live in a town where the public toilet facilities have been deliberately made into a tourist attraction please leave a comment and a link to a picture in my comment section. It could be interesting to see what else is out there.

Gunner Bill's Gallery - Bute, South Australia


May 17, 2009

I was all ready to bag the town of Bute as not being worth the visit but then Enigma and I had a look around Gunner Bill's Gallery in Bute and I changed my mind. First though, let's back up a bit.

After spending our Saturday at the Cornish Festival in Moonta, Enigma and I were wondering how to spend our Sunday, the final day of our holiday? We knew there was a fair on at Kadina for the final day of the Cornish Festival but we had a sneaking suspicion we'd see pretty much all the same food vans we saw at the fair at Moonta so decided not to go.

I read in a tourist magazine a single paragraph about the town of Bute which mentioned that the town had an award winning fauna park and a Gallery/museum/craft shop. Thinking the fauna park might be a good animal photo opportunity and the Gallery could be interesting we decided to go. Bute was on the way home anyway (we passed through it on the trip to Port Broughton but it was dark then).

Bute is small so the fauna park was easy to find. Like any kind of park you usually find a gate to go in. This park didn't have one. You simply walk around the fenced off perimeter and view the animals within. A sign behind the fence informed us that this was Bob Brokate Park.

How it became an 'award winning' fauna park I'll never know? It's not that the animals don't look well kept or that the caged areas aren't appropriate for each animal, it's just that there is nothing special about it. As a park it's functional but that's about all.

Enigma and I deduced that it probably won an award for the best fauna park in Bute because it's no Gorge Wildlife park. However it's free and we did get one or two good photos of emus, wallabies and birds.

Bute is a very small town and you've got to love a town where some local has enhanced its entry statement with a spray painted shout out to the local football team (I'm assuming) across the middle of the road.

The statement you can see on the road in this photo on the right proclaims; "BCC A GRADE PREMIERS 5 IN A ROW". That's five in a row!

It's at this point I was thinking Bute wasn't really a town I'd go out of my way to see but after killing enough time waiting for Gunner Bill's Gallery and Craft to open at 11am Enigma and I finally got to go in and have a look around.

The Gallery and Craft aspect of Gunner Bill's is high quality with more craft than art but you could see this stuff in almost any rural, South Australian town. What changed my mind was the museum which, unlike most museums I've seen around South Australia focuses, in part, on the Australian Swag man. In particular one swag man known as Gunner Bill.

I didn't take in much about Gunner Bill but I did notice one photo of him receiving a food package as late as 1956 when he was still living the swag man's life style. I don't know a lot about the history of swag men but, at a guess, I would've thought the traditional Australian Swag man were few and far between by 1956. I could be wrong but I always thought they were from a much earlier era in Australian history.

The Gallery has a self published book featuring Swag man stories that I would've liked to have bought but unfortunately my budget wouldn't allow it.

Anyhow, if you have a particular interest in the history of the swag man then Bute is a good place to start your research or at least to learn about one, some what, famous local 'swaggie'. That aspect of Bute's history gives it a point of difference from other towns in the region.

Unfortunately my camera batteries were low by the time we got to the gallery so I was being very selective about taking photos however if you do happen visit Bute you'll find Gunner Bill's Gallery in the old Police Station just across the road from Bute Railway station.

Port Broughton, Moonta Mining and a Cornish Festival

May 15 & 16 2009

After traveling everywhere with Rose for the last five weeks, my partner, Enigma, and I decided we were well overdue for some 'us' time. Enigma heard that there was a Cornish Festival happening in the town of Moonta, South Australia so she booked some accommodation over the coming weekend for us in the, kind of, near by town of Port Broughton (closer, affordable accommodation was booked out due to the festival).

We didn't see a lot of Port Broughton as our specific purpose was to see the Cornish festival. In fact we didn't arrive in town until after dark on the Friday. However we did enjoy some fish and chips for tea at a local cafe and, on the Saturday evening, we snapped a few pictures of the Port Broughton historic jetty and surrounding beach front at sunset (see photo above).

According to one passer by the sunset we snapped was nothing compared to some he had seen there. I can only imagine as the sun seems to set almost in line with the end of the jetty. Given the right cloud conditions you could get some stunning pictures on a 'great' sunset day.

The Cornish Festival we were going to see is billed as The World's Largest Cornish Festival according to our souvenir guide. Its actual title is the Kenewek Lowender and is a Festival that lasts a full week and has events which span across three South Australian towns, Moonta, Kadina and Wallaroo. Enigma and I were here to catch the second last day of the event which was focussed on the town of Moonta.

We knew there was going to be a parade through the streets of Moonta but weren't sure if we could get there in time to see it since the drive from Port Broughton was about 30 minutes. However we managed to get going early and arrived in town just in time to find a vantage point for the start of the parade.

The weather up to this point had been dodgy to say the least, with stretches of blue sky followed by a passing, shower delivering cloud. I was surprised that the town was seemingly packed with visitors despite this and, incredibly, the rain held off long enough for the entire parade to pass us by.

Not that it was a long parade but it did have a good variety of brass bands, Cornish costumes, vintage cars (a monster truck?) and floats relating to Moonta's mining history and the Flintstones (what the?).

The selection of photos shown here are just a sample of the many Enigma and I took (thanks to Enigma for the Flintstones float photo which I didn't manage to get a good photo of). Be sure to click on them to see larger versions of each image.

After the parade Enigma and I did what probably most people who are hungry do at a Cornish festival - headed off to purchase a Cornish Pasty. Enigma had heard that the Cornish Kitchen Cafe on Ellen street made the best Cornish Pasties so we went straight there. Apparently word had got out because the cafe had set up a table on the shops front footpath to meet up with the demand. We joined the queue and it wasn't long before we were sitting on the footpath a little further up from the cafe enjoying our pasties.

As with all town festivals they're always a good time to put on an art exhibition and Moonta had no shortage of them. Enigma and I were amazed by an exhibition of photography by local artist William Godward whose images of the mines in the region are like none we'd ever seen.

A festival isn't a festival without a fair and Saturday was Moonta's turn. We made our way to the show grounds and paid a ridiculous entry fee to see a bunch of food wagons, food tents and amusement rides with a few Cornish themed stalls and entertainment thrown in to match the festivals theme.

If I hadn't been to so many town fairs over the course of the Barossa Festival I would've said this was a pretty good fair but it could've been a fair anywhere with a few Cornish events rather than a Cornish Fair. I know these things are not easy to organise but if you are someone who organises a town fair please make sure the food stalls/tents and amusement rides don't dominate and overshadow the whole reason for the fair in the first place.

Considering the entry cost for each adult person there just wasn't enough for the adults to do to justify it. The couple in the photo above probably had the right idea by setting up their fold up chairs next to the entertainment arena to watch some Irish dancing (or was that Cornish Dancing? It looked more Irish to me?). I didn't notice too much happening of interest in that arena after the dancing though?

By about this time Enigma and I were all festivaled out having seen the main attractions for the day. Country towns being country towns we of course bumped into someone we knew who lived no where in the immediate region. Enigma's Sister and her family had driven over from the town of Burra for the day and quite by chance we crossed paths.

I reckon Enigma's had a baby homing device secretly installed to seek out her sister's newly born daughter, whom she has to hold every time the two get together. (This isn't the first time we've 'accidentally' crossed paths with her sister since her daughter was born - it's not like we live next door either - Burra is over an hours drive away from where we live).

From then on we kept crossing paths as we managed to choose almost the same things to do with the rest of our day. Enigma and I went back to the Cornish Kitchen for a drinks break before heading over to the town's Visitor Information Centre at the Historic Railway Station.

There we learned about the Mining History Museum housed at the old school around the corner and down the road a bit. So we decided to head over there where we crossed paths again with Enigma's sister and family, browsing the museum whilst they waited for the Museum's train tour to get back in for the next trip.

The Museum its self has a wealth of information about not just the mining history but the history of life in general when mining was starting to take off in the region. Everything from school history to men's clubs (such as the Freemasons) is covered.

I found this museum even more interesting as it features many cartoons by a local Cornish newspaper cartoonist of the day (who's name escapes me) highlighting many humorous moments of the time in that sort of stiff wordy style of the old time gag cartoons. Though the cartoon drawings were far from 'stiff'.

One thing that did stick in my mind was that the original discovery of copper in the region was made by chance when copper deposits were dug up by a wombat. Apparently on the surface in this region there were no obvious signs that the area was rich in copper.

Enigma and I finished off our day with a visit to the Moonta Mine Sweet Shop just across the road from the Museum. This is quite possibly one of the smallest sweet shops I've ever been in (housed in the former post office) but still worth a look if you like traditional style candy.

Then we waited around for the tourist train to return for a photo opportunity (of the train) and one last chance to path cross with Enigma's Sister. Whilst we were waiting at the train station we wandered around the grounds looking at the old machinery on display. I wandered into the Black Smith's display and discovered another 'Upsetting Machine' just like the one in Angaston (see photo below).

There is actually quite a lot to see and do in Moonta if you have the money to pay all the admission fees. One unique experience is the chance to tour a modern day copper mine that was worked during the 1980s. Known as the Wheal Hughes Copper Mine you can book tours at Moonta's Visitor information centre. Enigma and I didn't do the tour but I thought it worth mentioning as seeing a copper mine isn't something you can do just anywhere.

That was pretty much our day in Moonta. As I mentioned at the start Enigma and I headed back to Port Broughton where we enjoyed a Sunset and turned in for the night.

As Fast as a Speeding Frog(van)

Since I haven't mentioned my frog van since Rose and I's trip to Mannum I know you're wondering how it's doing and whether I drove it the 90 minutes each way to and from Burra?

As you can see from the photo on the right, this is my van parked outside the old Burra historical railway station. No, really, I didn't photoshop the van in, it's really there!

The van traveled to Burra in 100 minutes (give or take a minute or two) reaching speeds of up to 110kmph (that about 68mph in old 'money') without so much as raising a sweat i.e. the engine stayed at normal temperature the whole way.

At about 110kmph the vans roof begins to vibrate in the wind. Nothing serious, it's a commercial style van, it doesn't have roof upholstery like your people movers just the thin sheet metal that is the roof. Since the speed limit in most places was 110kmph the vibrations are quite handy for letting you know you're going too fast.

As well whenever an oncoming eighteen wheeler went past we'd suddenly be driving in the fields along the road side (not really but it was hairy all the same). I learnt to give myself as much space as possible when a truck was coming in the other direction to reduce the wind blast on the van.

Burra was Rose's last tourist stop in South Austalia. She'll be returning to Perth in a couple of days time. I know the van will be happy for the rest.

It's still not one hundred percent right as a mechanic friend of my partner's looked at it and immediately noticed it had an exhaust manifold leak 'somewhere'. I'll have to look into it more to see what I can find.

The Van still occasionally 'runs on' a bit and backfires too, though not as much as it did. I'm hoping a professional tune up at some point will fix that.

In the meantime it's back to normal posting of whatever happens to be interesting to me at the time. I hope you've enjoyed these travel diaries and no doubt you'll be hearing more about the Frog van in the future.


The Frog Van - it's not easy being green!

Two Afternoons in Burra, South Australia

9th and 11th May 2009

This is my third trip to the town centre of Burra, South Australia, approximately 90 minutes drive north(ish) from Gawler. Fourth, if you include the second trip two days later on the 11th of May.

The first time Rose and I were here, during our 2007 Road Trip, I briefly wrote about our visit in two posts titled Miranda's Bedroom and Searching for C. J. Dennis and Gunning for Broken Hill.

At the time I was disappointed that the towns Community Art Gallery had an exhibition of quilts (not really my thing but I do appreciate the work involved). On the first day of this trip to Burra we visited the same gallery and... an exhibition of quilts (sigh). Must be an annual exhibition that occurs during the month of May?

The town of Burra is actually famous in these parts for its copper mining history and in particular the open cut 'Monster Mine' which is now used as a venue for Jazz concerts and can be seen in the background of this photo of Rose (above) taken on the balcony of Morphett's Engine House Museum.

Just to give you an idea of where Rose is standing in the first photo here is a photo of the Engine House Museum from ground level. See that balcony at the top? She was standing on the balcony, in the corner closest to the camera.

The engine house is one of three local history museums you can visit in Burra for a reasonable cost - though you have to time things just right if you want to catch all three on the same day. They have limited opening hours but are worth the visit because each one is staffed by a guide who will provide you with additional information on Burra's history as well as answer any questions.

In case you were wondering the Engine house used to contain a massive Cornish beam engine that would pump water out of the mine. The gap between the two balconies used to support the massive pumping arm (known as 'Bob') that was pushed and pulled by a giant piston up and down 24/7 during the mine's working days.

All three museums are part of a historic, 11km Heritage driving trail that you can follow as an essential part of the Burra experience. The trail is free to follow and takes in 49 different historical sites of interest. For an extra fee you can purchase a pass key from the Burra Visitor Information Centre which will give you additional access to eight of the 49 sites.

To do the tour properly and at a leisurely pace I'd recommend three days in Burra. You could do it in two but you'd have to skip a lot of information. Rose and I tried to do all three museums and the Heritage Trail in two afternoons and failed. Though we did manage to see all the various key access sites - albeit the Old Police Station we saw after sunset and virtually in the dark with only natural light.

One highlight of the tour for movie buffs is the old gaol which was used in the Australian, Bruce Beresford film, Breaker Morant (1980). (Note that the historic railway station in my home town of Gawler also appeared in this film). The gaol is a key access site if you want to look around inside.

One thing that I have learned about heritage trails in general is that the phrase interpretive walking trail translates to everything has been reduced to its foundations or rubble and you have to imagine what buildings looked like based on the detailed information boards along the way.

One or two of the key entry sites on Burra's trail are interpretive walking trails (much like Kapunda's mine site). Whilst the sites are probably very interesting to walk around, when you're in a hurry to see as much as you can, spending time imagining how things looked isn't something you really want to do. Especially if you're running out of daylight and are in danger of missing seeing other sites that are still standing.

After two afternoons in Burra we finally had to give up and be glad we saw as much as we did. There is a lot here that I haven't written about, such as the Town Hall museum (which is free) and the very interesting display and guided tour of the Bon Accord Mine Museum (which includes a detailed model of the Burra mine before it was converted to an open cut mine).

If you have an interest in Australia's mining history or you have Cornish, Welsh or Irish descendants who emigrated to Australia to seek their fortune in the mines then Burra, South Australia, may be of interest to you. It's recognized as one of the most complete historical mining townships in Australia and a nice town to visit too.

Back Into Central Adelaide

6th May 2009

Rose and I specifically planned another trip into central Adelaide to see a free exhibition called Picturing Words at the Adelaide Festival Centre, Artspace Gallery.

Prior to visiting the exhibition we made a stop into the Festival Centre's Cafe where I snapped this photo (on the right) of an almost deserted table area. We were having a fairly late lunch so had to go with pretty much what was readily available. I had a piece of Quiche, that looked more like a slice of cake it was so big, along with a bit of cucumber and lettuce salad topped with some kind of savory sauce dressing that I couldn't quite determine the flavor of.

The Picturing Words exhibition was described on the festival centre's web site as follows (because I'm too lazy to write this up and you'll understand more why I was a little disappointed later on):

Picturing Words

Artist's Perspectives on writing and illustrating picture books

Program developed with the DECS education officer based at the Adelaide Festival Centre

A visual exhibition of original children’s picture book illustrations showing creative stages that lead to the finished works of art now enjoyed in print. The exhibition of preliminary artworks, reference materials and storyboards are largely drawn from the Dromkeen Children's Literature Collection, with additional, original sketches and final illustrations supplied by the artists.

Picturing Words will feature self-guided storytelling 'stages' for featured books. The illustration processes for ten well-known children's books are from:

Ali the Bold Heart by Jane Jolly, Illustrator: Elise Hurst

The Boy, The Bear, The Baron, The Bard; Midsummer Knight, Illustrator: Gregory Rogers

Home, Written and illustrated by Narelle Oliver

Kestrel by Mark Svendsen, Illustrators: Steven Woolman & Laura Peterson

Maise Moo and Invisible Lucy, Written and illustrated by Chris McKimmie

The Man from Snowy River by A B Paterson, Illustrator: Freya Blackwood

A Pet for Mrs Arbuckle by Gwenda Smyth, Illustrator: Ann James

A True Person, Written and illustrated by Jacqui Grantford

The Wolf by Margaret Barbalet, Illustrator: Jane Tanner


Sounds really interesting doesn't it? Especially if you're someone like me who is constantly told that you should illustrate children's books, or someone like Rose who has written a children's book that she's hoping I'll illustrate some day.

When we entered the gallery we were greeted by the attendant who told us that the exhibition was really targeted at children, to help them learn about how children's books are made, but we were welcome to look around. Right away I knew this wasn't going to be as good as I had hoped.

Looking around at the various sample pages of work in progress to finished artwork displays you did get some insight into each artist's process but not anywhere near as much as I would have liked. Just little snippets of explanation from the artist but nothing too in depth.

No doubt, if you were a child on a school excursion to this exhibition you'd have a much more interactive time participating in the range of activities that were available. All designed to encourage learning and to get kids more involved with the creative process. As an adult and a professional artist it was a little 'light' for me but then it wasn't an exhibition aimed at people of my age or experience.

Still, it was an interesting exhibition and any time I get to see the work behind the finished art is always a joy to see. Sometimes people seem to think us artists just create all our pictures straight from our heads with no preliminary thought, sketches, roughs or mistakes along the way. Sometimes we do but most of the time not.

For the rest of our time in Adelaide Rose and I didn't have any specific plans so we just kind of wandered around the shopping precinct.

Knowing that Rose is interested in art I remembered this rather large garden themed sculpture that you can find on King William Street just north of the west end of Rundle Mall. The photos don't show you all of it - there is a giant peg, beach ball, bone and fish skeleton as well - but to give you some sense of scale the tap you can see in the background (with the garden hose attached) is easily eight to nine feet tall (at a guess).

The thong (that's flip flop to my American readers) in the second photo is big enough for a couple of people to sit in and still have room.

Despite this sculpture having many plaques with little garden friendly messages on them I couldn't find one that gave me any information about the artist or the title of the artwork as a whole. All I could find was a plaque that said This Playspace was commissioned in 2006 by the Adelaide City Council and that it was officially opened in December of 2007.

We finished up our second Adelaide trip with a wander through Adelaide Arcade shopping mall. This is one of those shopping malls that every city has that you really must take some time to visit. It combines a real sense of history with a selection of specialty shops ideal for those who like to shop somewhere other than their local variety superstore. Rose and I browsed through the Arcade's stairwell history museum before heading back to the railway station and making our way home.

Mannum House Boats and the 1956 Flood

May 2 and 4, 2009

Mannum, South Australia is situated on the Murray River about an hour and twenty minutes drive from my home town of Gawler. If you've been following recent posts on this blog then you may be wondering if my frog van was up to this distance.

Fortunately the day before Rose and I spent a very damp afternoon at The Gorge Wildlife Park located in the Adelaide hills about forty minutes south of Gawler. The van had not only got us there without any real problem but had also negotiated some pretty steep hills (one of which had me right down to second gear to make the steepest sections). After that a drive to Mannum should be easy.

Before I get back to Mannum, I didn't write about The Gorge Wildlife park because I've already covered it in 2007 with my post, Gorge Wildlife Park, Cuddle a Koala. That previous trip we had a much better time and weren't rained out. Back then I took 137 photos, this time I took only one and it was a bad photo of a dingo.

Right, that out of the way, Mannum. The town of Mannum held an 'Open Weekend' for their houseboat hire industry where you could go along and inspect a considerable number of houseboats for hire. Rose and I went along on the Saturday.

The Murray River in Australia has received plenty of media coverage of late due to the droughts we've been experiencing. Often regarded as the life blood of Australia (well at least three states anyway) the water levels have dropped considerably in recent years making water for irrigation extremely scarce.

In the media the river is often depicted as dried up however this isn't the case. There is still more than enough water to enjoy a houseboat holiday. In fact if it wasn't for the markers and jetties indicating where the water level used to be you'd probably never even realize that the Murray river was far lower than it used to be.

For example in the photo above of the Murray Princess (which is a luxury paddle steamer and local tourist attraction that you can book cruises on) if you look at the shore in the foreground you can see the water level should be nearly up to the green grass of the park lands.

On our first day at Mannum Rose probably looked through every houseboat, whilst I managed about half before I decided they were all starting to look a bit 'samey' just with different decor. That's not to say it wasn't fascinating to begin with. Some of these boats were bigger and had better kitchen's, lounges, bathrooms and bedrooms than just about every house I've ever lived in on land. Not only that but most had room for two to three bathrooms all of equal size!

Granted many of the house boats were considered five star accommodation, with virtually all of them having a full size spa on the upper deck, but still, for house boats - I'd consider living in one full time!

One particular highlight was this three level houseboat you can see in the photo on the right. The interior on this was stunning. I swear I wouldn't know what to do with all the rooms and space. I'd also have trouble finding ten to twelve friends that I could take a holiday with to fill it.

The very first houseboat we looked at was also both Rose and I's favorite. Unlike all the others it utilized half the lower decks floor space (from front to back) as open plan shared living space. The other half was filled with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The effect was a much more spacious boat than most of the other boats which seem to use the front of the boat for shared living space and the middle to back for bedrooms and bathrooms. The upper sun deck simply had a full size spa and room for an out door table setting from which to enjoy the scenery.

Rose found out this boat was for sale and did some serious talking with the boat manager's step daughter, who was looking after that particular vessel during the open day. I think she nearly talked Rose into actually investing in a houseboat (but not quite).

By the time we'd finished looking at all the houseboats we were running out of light so decided to head home for the day. The trip back was a real drama in its self because I got lost twice, extending out trip by at least another thirty minutes. Damn maps, a lack of good road signs combined with darkness all conspired against me.

After a frustrating time getting home we took a break on Sunday to just relax then headed back to Mannum on the Monday. I figured that since we'd worked out how I'd managed to get lost we may as well go back whilst all the road routes were still fresh in my mind.

Mannum does have more to offer than just houseboats. Rose wanted to walk through the Visitor Information Centre's history Museum and hoped to get a tour of the Marion - a completely restored and working paddle steamer originally built early last century.

Unfortunately we didn't get to look through the Marion due to a school group having taken over the boat for the afternoon however the Museum was extremely interesting though largely focussed on one significant event. The 1956 Floods.

Rose and I learnt that in 1956 all the lower wetlands across three states - which include the Murray River flooded to record levels. If you look at the photo on the right you'll see a tree stump monument dedicated to the floods that includes a measuring stick. The mark right at the top... that's the level of the 1956 floods in Mannum.

If you look behind the tree stump in the photo you'll see the back end of the three storey paddle boat, the Murray Princess. If the boat stayed at its present level and the water rose to the height of the floods, you might be able to stand on its roof without getting your feet wet.

One particular story the museum's video on the floods relates is how the local pub managed to stay trading even though it's entire ground floor filled with water nearly to the ceiling. They simply knocked out a section of railing on the upper floor so people could pull up in their boats and climb onto the balcony.

Apparently things worked really well until the water levels started backing up the sewerage system and the toilets in many of the buildings simply exploded with raw sewage coming back up the pipes. Yummy!

After the museum we decided to seek out some water falls that Mannum is known for. We hadn't been able to find any brochure that actually contained detailed information about where they were located. However Rose did find a photocopied, hand drawn map that looked fairly straight forward and easy to follow. How wrong we were.

Here's a hint to anyone drawing a street map - try writing on the name of the roads. You may be able to find things by distance traveled and their relationship to one site specific landmark but the rest of us are used to street directories and maps with the actual names of roads.

We looked everywhere for these waterfalls, back tracking and more but had to give up as we started to run out of light (I didn't want to be driving home in the dark this time). I swear we followed the map but along the way could not find one single street sign that said 'Mannum Falls'.

If it wasn't for a single photo of them in one of our extremely unhelpful color brochures I'd say Mannum Falls don't exist. If you've been there and taken a photo place a link to it in the comments below. I'd love to see what I missed.

With that our trip to Mannum was over. The drive home was uneventful and only notable for the fact that I didn't get lost and the Frog van didn't break down at all.

Mannum is a very picturesque, historical town, great for a day out or as a stop on your next houseboat holiday... you won't get sea sick or anything. Rose and I actually rode on one of the houseboats whilst there and we barely noticed any rocking motion at all - even when it was moving along.
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