In the middle of July Jenny and I took Penguin to the Junction Rally at Wentworth NSW. Wentworth is at the junction of the Murray and Darling rivers. The Junction rally is held only every three years and is for stationary engines, vintage cars, paddle steamers and small boats of all types. The Steam Boat association make this event their annual gathering as it is relatively central for most states including those coming from WA, and they had a good range of steam boats in action.
Also attending were WBA members Chris and Glenda Athey with steam launch Firefly, new members Russell and Margaret from Nagambie in Agnes powered by a Ford 10 and Wal and Chris Macadames from Lake Macquarie in Sumwood, along with many of our Lake Macquarie, Sydney and Narooma boating friends.
The Caravan park is ideally located right on the river and since we were there last, a number of floating pontoons have been installed making mooring easy. We had one right in front of our site, which was very civilised. The rally ground is not far away and it was easy to run up and down by boat.
On Saturday the Paddle steamer Ruby led a sail past downstream from the wharf in the Darling river past the rally ground and on up the Murray a little way. Readers may remember my article about the Paddle steamer Melbourne’s 100th birthday at Mildura last September, and that the Ruby had major problems with the boiler and could not proceed. It was great to see that those associated with her have been able to repair her and have her moving under her own steam again. After rain overnight, Sunday was fine despite dire forecasts, and ended up a sunny day. It was arranged that the smaller boats would go down through the lock and cruise downstream for a bit then return.
We ended up with about a dozen boats in the lock all hanging on to lines dropped from above by the lockmaster. The Wentworth lock is one of the larger ones built on the lower Murray and takes about 7 minutes to empty. However to avoid turbulence, the lockmaster opened the valves only very slightly lowering us down the 3 metres in about 15 minutes. After cruising downstream for about half an hour, we turned around back to the lock returning to the Wentworth side.
Although long way to go for a weekend, it is worthwhile as it is a great waterway to cruise around. The next rally is 2016, so plan to be there.