I have travelled on paddle steamers many times in my life, as I grew up on the Murray River.
The first time was as a kid on the GEM, as it travelled up river to its resting place in Swan Hill.
I have also travelled on a paddle steamer in Echuca, as well as lots of houseboats (that’s for another post).
Some paddle steamers are also reasonably accessible for wheelchair users, so I will tell you about them.
The two I know of in Mildura are the PS Melbourne and the PV Rothbury.
The days and times for the different boats vary, so be sure to check the timetables.
The paddle steamers leave from a dock on the Murray River (Victorian side) about 500 m from Mildura grand hotel, so they are very easy to get to. There is a good car park adjacent, including wheelie parking out front, but no shade.
The ramp onto the boat is steep, and a bit tricky at each end, especially the boat end. This is extra challenging for a power chair, which I use. I had to bump down a drop of about 6 inches and I needed to use my portable ramp on way out.
The price was about $30 pp or $28 concession. I am not sure if they accept the companion card.
On the Rothbury, the entrance delivers you to the back of the boat downstairs. It is a very tight squeeze between a pole and the bar to get to front area, but I made it in my reasonably compact power chair. Wheelies can’t get to the outside deck. Still, there are plenty of windows and the river is great. The boat goes through the lock, as the water level falls/rises. You travel downstream far enough to clear obvious developments along the river. The commentary is quite good, unusually clear and informative although some may struggle with the loveable Aussie accent.
Wheelies can’t get upstairs to the top deck (the boats were built in the 1880s).
A local told me that Mildura is down on tourism, that it is “dead”. Tourist attractions such as water theme parks had closed. She said they can’t compete with the Gold Coast, although Mildura has more sunny days than the Gold Coast.
I reckon fishing, swimming, skiing, boating, the bush etc are the real draws. There is also an ok cinema, some old homesteads, a few interesting wineries, grape farms etc.
It’s also a day trip to the incredible Lake Mungo, or even broken hill (Mad Max and Pricilla territory).