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All Aboard Murray River Paddlesteamers' newest boat, the PS Australian Star

Amid the Murray’s tranquil riverbanks, an all-Australian chorus of sulphur-crested cockatoos, magpies, and kookaburras fills the air with a melodious tune. The gentle rustle of Eucalyptus red gum leaves adds to the symphony, swaying harmoniously in the breeze. Meanwhile, the rhythmic slap of the paddle wheel against the water infuses the ambiance with a meditative pulse, creating the daily soundtrack of a Murray River cruise. 

Embarking on the PS Australian Star, guests step into a world of nostalgia and luxury. As the sole wood-fired, five-star paddle steamer in the world, it offers journeys steeped in history and natural beauty. From Torrumbarry Weir to Echuca and beyond, passengers traverse the Murray on three to seven-night voyages, immersing themselves in serene natural scenery, cultural delights, and the region's finest wineries and cuisine. The impeccably crafted decks of the ship provide the perfect vantage point to soak in vistas of the flourishing riverbanks, while the alluring aroma of crackling firewood evokes tales of the river's storied paddle steamer past. 
PS Australian Star along the Murray in Echuca render
Craig Burgess, co-owner of the PS Australian Star, reports that for most guests, the greatest pleasure on a Murray cruise lies in unwinding amid nature and connecting with the river's rich history. “As soon as you get on board, you just drop your shoulders. There’s no hum of the engine so you hear the soft splash of the paddle wheel, and the smell and the heat from the steam engine just makes you relax.” 

Mesmerising scenery unfolds each day as mist lifts off the water at sunrise to reveal venerable river red gums lining the banks. Wildlife abounds as well, with kangaroos bouncing through the bush on both sides of the ship and an impressive array of birdlife gliding nearby - oftentimes perched on the decks’ balustrades. 

Once complete, the ship's amenities and size are unparalleled among Murray River vessels, but it maintains an intimate and personalised atmosphere by catering to no more than 38 guests. The main public spaces are the sleek Randell Dining Room and the stylish Hopwood Lounge, both of which open out into forward and aft outdoor seating areas. Staterooms are located on the upper decks, and all 19 feature river views, en suites and flat-screen TVs. The two spacious owner’s suites also include private decks. 
tables, chairs and a bar inside the dining room of the PS Australian Star

Dining on board is gourmet and paddock-to-plate in style, with a new menu created daily. All meals are locally inspired and freshly prepared by the onboard chef. Produce such as organic beef is often sourced from local farms and wineries and on select days, guests will also enjoy barbeques and campfires on the riverbank.   

Shore activities include a lunch and wine tasting at St Anne’s Winery and an evening ghost tour of Echuca Wharf. Guests will also have ample opportunity to connect with the Murray’s rich heritage on board and learn about the unique quirks of Australian paddle steamers from the ship’s dedicated “Riverlorian”. The PS Australian Star’s authentic wood-fired steam engine dates back to 1907 and the ship’s engineers will demonstrate to guests how it operates. On longer cruises, there will also be evening viewings of All the Rivers Run, the celebrated Australian novel and mini-series set on the Murray River during its 19th century paddle steamer heyday.

Murray River Paddlesteamers is a proudly Australian family run business, now co-owned by twin brothers, Craig and Rohan Burgess.

Explore our exclusive Murray River cruises aboard the PS Australian Star.  

Words: Alexander Simpson

Images: Murray Regional Tourism, David Sickerdick