Sturt Reserve, Murray Bridge
The PS Madam Jade has been moored at Sturt Reserve in my home town of Murray Bridge for some time now. The Jade is a trading boat, with all kinds of second-hand items for sale. It is one of several boats moored in the port of Murray Bridge. There are several boats available for short morning, lunch time or afternoon cruises on the river. Several even have full catering facilities. Several other larger boats take tourists on weekend or five day cruises upstream.
Having been on several of these cruises over the years I can say from experience that a cruise on the river is an excellent way to spend a few hours. The passing panorama of houses picnic grounds and dairy farms is always interesting. The birdlife on this stretch of the river is prolific. Pelicans, swans, whistling kites, gulls and terns make up only a few of the species one can witness on a boat trip.
The first boats used on the river were carved from the bark of the eucalypt trees by the original inhabitants, the Aborigines. I don’t know of any canoe trees in the immediate vicinity of Murray Bridge. The closest I know of is on a tree near the road to Goolwa, about 45 minutes drive away.
The first European contact with this area was the small group of explorers led by Captain Charles Sturt. Sturt had explored the Murrumbidgee and Darling rivers before finding his small boat in the river he named the Murray River. On February 8th 1830 Sturt and his crew camped on the bank of the river near where the PS Madam Jade is moored. The area is now known as Sturt Reserve and is only a gentle five minute stroll from the CBD of Murray Bridge.
Both locals and visitors enjoy the facilities on the riverbank at Sturt Reserve. There is a lovely playground, extensive lawned area, barbecue facilities and three land restaurants in addition to the restaurants on the boats. Every few weeks my wife and I take a picnic lunch to a favourite spot of ours along the river front. It is so relaxing just watching the river craft pass by and the passing parade of birds.