The Emmylou Story

The majestic PS Emmylou is one of the most recognisable and iconic Paddlesteamers in Australia, cruising the Murray River from Echuca, just 2.5 hours drive from Melbourne.

Named after the American country singer Emmylou Harris, PS Emmylou has been host to thousands of people, delighting even her namesake. PS Emmylou starred in the TV series All the Rivers Run in which she was renamed the PS Providence. Powered by a beautifully restored 1906 Marshall and Sons steam engine, Emmylou is now the only wood fired Paddlesteamer in the world offering regular scheduled accommodated river cruises.

The side wheel paddlesteamers are distinctly Australian having first plied the Murray river in 1853, they established a thriving industry which survived until rail and roads began to service the region near the turn of the century. By 1873 there were 240 boats trading along the Murray River. The inland prospered as trade and commence developed, and previously out of the way settlements were kept in touch with the cities. With the introduction of the railway, the paddlesteamers and their industrious crews progressively lost work until the riverboat industry was but a shadow of it’s illustrious past. The Murray River which includes the Darling and Murrumbidgee rivers is one of the longest river systems in the world. Although weirs have cut down the navigability of the river, the Murray alone still claims 2508 kilometres of meandering waters.

PS Emmylou, the world’s only wood-fired cruising paddlesteamer reminds us of the romantic days of the paddlesteamers and is now an Australian Icon of the River. Built locally during 1980-82 in the style of the 19th century paddlesteamers, she is perfectly at home at the Port of Echuca, residing with the last few remaining paddlesteamers of the past. She is 30 metres long and 10 metres wide, steel hulled and timber decked. During 2018 PS Emmylou underwent a specially designed luxury upgrade and fit out. The new contemporary cabins and ensuites include fine linens topped with silky duvets, with the boats’ premier cabin, the Emmylou Suite located on the front Upper Deck, with French Doors opening to a deck and 180 degree views of the river. Guests can enjoy small boat boutique cruising at it’s finest with just 16 guests comfortably accommodated in 8 deluxe cabins.

In March 2015 the business was purchased by brother’s Craig & Rohan Burgess together with local identity & Skipper Neil Hutchinson. The business continues to grow and expand on strong foundations which was acknowledged in July 2016 with the business winning Gold at the Regional Tourism Awards and Silver in the prestigious VTIC, Victorian Tourism Awards again in 2018. We are proud to continue the tradition of overnight cruising on Australia’s greatest waterway with our trademark level of country hospitality aboard an authentic paddlesteamer. We hope you can join us to connect you with Australia’s inland history, geography, culture and cuisine.



Just 2.5 hours drive from Melbourne nestled on the mighty Upper Murray River. Here you can indulge all your senses from great eateries, live music festivals set against a natural backdrop of moving rivers, ancient river gums and wonderful Mediterranean style climate.

The Paddlesteamer days back in 1865 to 1910 were a boom time for Echuca. From the earliest days of Echuca’s history, growth and development of the area has been intimately linked with the Murray River System. Echuca was founded by one of the most enterprising characters of the early colonial days, an ex-convict named Henry Hopwood. In 1850 he bought a small punt, which operated across the Murray river near the Campaspe Junction. Originally known as “Hopwood’s Ferry” the name was changed to Echuca as the town grew. Hopwood worked to establish a town, which eventually had a major influence on the development of the great inland river system. When he died in 1869 he left a thriving town where nothing had existed 16 years earlier, when he built his first slab Inn.

After Sturt first discovered and named the Murray in 1830, it was over twenty years before the first two steam boats made their way upstream. In 1853 the “Mary Ann” skippered by William Randell, and the Lady Augusta under Captain Frances Cadell, ran an unexpected race up-river, each sure of being the first to open up the Murray for traffic. The Lady Augusta passed the Mary Ann arriving at the tiny settlement of Swan Hill only hours before the Mary Ann. The few settlers along the way greated both with much enthusiasm and hospitality. Randell took the Mary Ann on up to Moama, while Cadell after travelling a short distance upstream, turned back for Goolwa.

Echuca’s close proximity to Melbourne and the ambitions of the city’s founder, led to the Port of Echuca becoming the largest inland port in Australia. The riverboat trade was of national importance because it had the effect of opening up inland Australia for settlement and thereby increasing the country’s production of wool. The riverboat days boomed at Echuca – until the great depression of the 1890’s. As the railways were extended in New South Wales and road transport improved, the river trade declined and the old wharf, built in 1865, was defunct by the 1920’s

By an accident of good fortune Echuca’s subsequent growth moved away from the river, leaving the old wharf and the original buildings in decay but intact. Now the old Port of Echuca has been restored and the century old buildings are open for inspection and business once again. The entire Port Area was declared an historic precinct in 1975. There are lots of stories to be told about the riverboats and the colourful characters that crewed them. Stories too about the customs strife between Colonies that helped shape the free trade provisions of the Australian Constitution. 

The Murray River

Named by the indigenous Yorta Yorta peoples as a place that means ‘meeting of the waters.’ Echuca is the spot where the Goulburn and the Campaspe rivers join the Murray. These stretches are great for independent exploring in a canoe or why not camp on the bank overnight with only the sounds of birds, frogs and splashing fish to break the tranquil silence.

The Murray River stretches for over 2,600 kilometers, from the Great Dividing Range in the north east of Victoria to its mouth at Goolwa in South Australia. The Murray River is one of the world’s longest navigable rivers and a major source of water for much of south-eastern Australia. The river’s standing as one of the greatest in the world has been recognised since the late nineteenth century. The Murray is the lifeblood of the agricultural industry for much of inland Victoria and is often referred to as the ‘food bowl’ of Australia.

Murray River Flag

The Murray River Flag is flown from paddlesteamers and other vessels in SA, NSW/VIC that ply the waters of the Murray Darling river system. Thea earliest recorded reference to the Murray Flag was at Goolwa to honour the first paddle steamer to go into service on the Murray River ” The Mary Ann”.

It’s the only flag in the world to be named in honour of a river. The flag bears a red cross with four horizontal blue bars. The cross being charged with 5 stars as emblems of the Colonies while the upper corner is taken up with British connections which is depicted by the Union Jack. It is believed that the blue bars represent the four major rivers the Murray, Murrumbidgee, Lachlan and Darling. Today the Murray River is represented by two flags. The Upper Murray Flag has darker blue bands on its flag, representing the darker waters of the river’s upper reaches. The Lower Murray Flag, used predominantly in South Australia, is distinguished by the use of pale blue bands representing the lighter coloured waters of the lower reaches of the Murray.
Upper River Flag