It was a week cruising on a houseboat with my extended family with a plan to not really do much at all. Was I looking forward to it? Not really. For those who know me well, I don’t “do” relaxing very well. I couldn’t help thinking that a trip to Bali would be much more fun. However, from the moment I arrived at the wharf, it hit me in the heart….I’d forgotten the beauty of the Murray River; a sense of calm and peacefulness fell over me – something I hadn’t felt in years. This magical place had a piece of me. It was part of my history.
From my late teens through to my twenties I spent many a weekend camping by the edge of the river, eagerly anticipating some water skiing. It’s funny how your view of the world changes as you grow older; I don’t think I ever appreciated the beauty of my surroundings. My biggest concern was getting out on the water and skiing until my arms could no long hold on. My idea of the perfect day was when the water was like glass and everything fell into an easy rhythm. It was a time of innocence, easy going youth and no responsibilities.
Seeing the same place through young eyes
Fast forward 20 years; marriage, children, divorce and breast cancer. I was not expecting the impact the Murraylands obviously had on me. I had not spent more than a day on the river in at least 15 years. It was majestic. It was alive. It was spiritual and it was just what I needed.
I loved waking up to the sound of the birds calling and breathing in the clear country air. A new day so fresh and sunny. My morning ritual would be to head up to the top deck to do some yoga (something I never seem to have time to do) as we cruised along the river. It was truly food for my soul; time to reflect as I soaked up the atmosphere. Just me in that moment. We meandered along the river past the mallee country and wetlands until we found the perfect spot to moor well away from habitation. Out came the canoes and fishing rods (not that we caught anything!) usually with an audience of a few curious pelicans.
The galahs would let us know when it was time to wind down for the night and the packs of cards would then appear. I loved this time of night when the sky would turn a beautiful grey/pink colour reflecting on the magnificent sandstone cliffs and highlighting the trunks of the river gums lining the bank.
Reconnecting with the family
Our evenings were filled with laughter and a healthy amount of competition as we invariably played “chase the ace”. I recall my son Jack being concerned that we weren’t bringing the x-box and there would be “nothing to do”. I had to giggle to myself as there wasn’t ever an electronic device in sight, and it was the children hassling the adults to play cards. We taught the kids to play Patience the old fashioned way and we were all addicted by the end of the week.
Unfortunately it was soon time to disembark. I was so grateful for this time spent reconnecting with my family especially my children. And the unexpected opportunity to re-live part of my youth but through different eyes. It was like time had stood still and I could soak up the old and newly created memories. It’s true the magical Murraylands reaches right into your soul. It will always be part of me.
Christy McKenzie: Christy has transformed her life over the last few years through determination, survival instincts and love. She shares her live in Adelaide Australia with her two wonderful children Jack and Charli and partner Mike and son Dan.