ALBURY’S first Murray River passenger cruise service in 10 years has exceeded the hopes of the vessel’s owner.
The Sienna Daisy’s Fraser Knowles estimates 10,000 people boarded his boat over its opening Albury season from spring to autumn.
“It was above expectations, the people of Albury-Wodonga and surrounding districts really got behind it,” Mr Knowles said.
“We did 63 Christmas parties, that was a real highlight, that was great.
“We really enjoyed that, because we got to go to everyone’s parties.”
It is the first time that a vessel has operated cruises from Noreuil Park’s mooring since 2006 when the paddle steamer Cumberoona took its last passengers.
Mr Knowles and his brother bought the Cumberoona from Albury Council in 2014 and moved it to Lake Mulwala the next year.
He said the only downers for the Sienna Daisy’s debut had been the inconsistent river height and the rapid drop in water releases at the tail of the season.
“They pulled the plug on us and it’s stranded,” Mr Knowles said.
“It’s sitting on the bottom, like the old Cumberoona.
“It’s the last place we wanted to leave it, we were hoping to get it up the slip.”
Mr Knowles hopes there will be enough water by late July-August to allow the Sienna Daisy to be dry docked for some maintenance.
That is expected to include a new engine, a fresh coat of paint and updated decals.
Mr Knowles estimated 90 per cent of those who travelled aboard the 49-passenger capacity boat were from the Border.
He said they had enjoyed the chance to interact with nature, such as crayfish, and learn about the history of the stream.
However, Mr Knowles said it would be pleasing to broaden the base of passengers.
“The river was still very inconsistent, so it’s hard to contact the bus companies and try and get the buses,” he said.
“Through January we missed 17 days of work through low water.
“We’ll get in there and build up more advertising for the tourist season, but we’re over the moon with how it went and we will be back next season flying the flag.”
Mr Knowles anticipates the first trips for the new season will depart in late August-September.