An Excursion With James

Yesterday I went on a school excursion with James and the rest of the Grade 5 children.  It was a perfect day.  Beautiful weather, lovely company in the form of the teachers and other parents that came along and well behaved children.  The children are doing “Local History and Transport in Swan Hill” and we were very lucky to have a man speak to the children who was passionate about history and engaged the kids right from the word go. They hung on every word – as did the adults I might add…vbg.

We looked at and were told the history of the Paddle Steamer “Gem” which was once built to tow behind other paddle steamers then they put an engine and paddle wheels in it so it could carry more cargo and passengers.  It made more money that way.  Somethings never change.

Paddle Steamer "Gem"

The ins and outs of a steam train were discussed.

Steam Train

There was considerable guessing at how many horses you would need to pull a Cobb and Co coach from Swan Hill to Melbourne.  6000!!!  No kidding – with all the changes that they would have to make with the horses it took that many to make the two and a half day journey from here to Melbourne – a trip that now takes just four hours!!!  And to think these days we grumble about the traffic lights not changing fast enough.

Cobb and Co Coach

We learnt about Penny Farthing Bicycles and how to ride them…..and how to get off them…vbg. Not a very graceful manouver I have to say.

Penny Farthing Bicycle

We went on an hours cruise on the Paddle Steamer “Pyap”……..

Paddle Steamer "Pyap"

……and my boy let me take one photo of him.


Lunch then a wander around the Pioneer Settlement before heading out to wait for the buses.

There was a rally of vintage vehicles in town and we were lucky enough to be able to have a quick wander through them.  Some beautiful machines that have been lovingly restored and cared for.  I want an MG when I grow up.


On the bus and out to Lake Boga to the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum , click on the link and you will get more details and photos than I will cover here, but basically during the Second World War when the Japanese were bombing Darwin and Broome it was decided that a base had to be set up to enable these flying boats to be repaired so they could return and continue their role in the war effort. At one time there was close to 1000 personel working at the base. A friend of ours owns a block of land at Lake Boga where the barracks were.

Catalina Flying Boat

We looked up close and personal at the huge Catalina plane that the volunteers of the Museum have been restoring.  I had no idea it was so big!!!  There was also a plan of what went where in the plane and I have to say it would be pretty crowded as there were nine men in that plane – seven as crew and two extras so that the bombing raids the planes undertook could be carried out.  The children asked lots of deep and meaningful questions including “What did the crew do for a toilet???”  They weren’t impressed at being told they had a bucket with a lid on it…..grin.

Diagram of inside of plane

It really was a brilliant day but it was so nice to get home and back into the routine of everyday things. Outings like this make me realise just how much our world is changing and how important “home” is.


2 thoughts on “An Excursion With James

  1. I love this post. My grade 5 camp (a long long time ago!)was to Swan Hill and we went to the Pioneer settlement and rode a Paddle steamer so a lot of memories there. While we were living in Broome we walked out once to one of the catalinas that had been bombed, the wreck is still in the bay and every so often (only a few times a year) if there is a negative tide in daylight hours (I think thats how it goes) you can walk out to it.

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