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We know the familiar song is titled Up A Lazy River, but a lazy afternoon cruise on the Hawkesbury Paddlewheeler takes you 'down' the Hawkesbury river. The Paddlewheeler might have looked more at home on the Mississippi River (USA) at the turn of the 19th century. And while those showboats were famous for gambling and partying on the river, on our Paddlewheeler you can plan a party of your own.




Phone: 0401 798 088

If you want to throw a birthday celebration, tie the knot, bring a quarrelling family to peace or shuck off the business suits and 'conference', the Hawkesbury Paddlewheeler makes for a 'cruisy' group venue on the Hawkesbury River.

For a couple of hours at a most leisurely pace - barely a ripple on the water - the group can relax, sing 'happy birthday', settle longstanding arguments or kiss the bride. You make your own fun - though you cannot throw a groom or a father-in-law overboard. Captain Ian Burns insist on 'no harm' and 'no mayhem.'

The food is fine - the wine chilled - and musicians on-board as the Paddlewheeler takes you up the river. Your group can total five - you're onboard with other revellers - or 50 if you want a private party. Keep your invitations to 100 as that's the maximum.



For private charter, your cruising time can be extended to two, three or four hours. With a central dance floor, the party can go on and on and on … Oh, plans for a very special Christmas cruise in December (or July) might just fit the bill!

Call for the many packages and arrangements for a DJ or live music. This is a great way to while away your afternoon!

 USA East Coast

Newport News, Virginia (USA) is suburbia, big time.

However, in the early 1900s, dignified two storey weatherboard cottages lined the banks of the riverfront. These were big homes owned by senior managers employed by the nearby shipbuilding facility. Neighbourhoods for the workers – welders, carpenters, iron workers – spread around this major East Coast shipyard. The little town grew immensely during the years of World War II. But wars end and governments find new enemies in a ‘space war’. 

In nearby Hampton– an historic village dating back to 1607, NASA Langley Research Centre today employs some 18,000 people. Engineers and astronauts are paid well; want good schools for their kids and big churches for their religions. Affluent neighbourhoods rise out of farmlands and heavily treed acreage. Bordered by the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the Hampton Roads area grows into massive suburb – homes, universities, hospitals, mega churches, strip malls, and a thriving new Newport News  upmarket shopping and dining district.

On a heavily trafficked street amidst the Newport News nondescript sprawl sits an orthopeadic clinic where injured joints – hips, knees, shoulders, ankles – achingly find their way here – Hampton Orthopaedic and Sports Clinic.   Now, to ‘the surgeon who loves people’.

On a warm summer evening in early September, I attended a most unusual affair – an ‘open house’ thrown by surgeon Dr. Anthony Carter in the dramatic Newport News (Virginia) Maritime Museum.  Some 500 of us (patients) showed up for the event – a dinner party and a celebration of the unusual surgical work of he does.


Contrary to proper doctor-patient etiquette at social events, the good surgeon wanted to engage with people about their medical progress.  My opening gambit:‘I flew in from Sydney for your party’ seemed an appropriate way to approach him. However, a touch of innocence and wide-eyed disbelief rose to the surgeon’s eyes.  (I was one among the hundreds of patient surgeries he performs annually and recognition of me was certainly unlikely).

Heat rushed to my face. I had trampled over the social taboo of monopolizing a surgeon with tales of my recuperation. 'I came for my annual checkup after knee surgery September 2015 and your party was the same day'. (I had not flown in from another continent for a social event.) After a minute of painful small talk, I backed away, melting into the crowd now gathering.

An open bar and fantastic riffs by a local guitarist soon mellowed the huge crowd. We, each patient wore a name-tag with a brief explanation of ‘our surgeries’: jiffy hip or hips if you had had a double. Jiffy knee: full or partial, if you were in that surgical category. Gradually, over a glass of wine or an ice-cold beer, patients of every skin colour mingled, peering at the name-tag stuck to your chest. At large tables and over dinner, folks began to share their medical stories and speak of their appreciation to Dr. Carter. Name tags and surgery identifiers were a great ice-breaker for such a large crowd.



Patients gathered around Dr. Carter.  With a beer in hand, dressed in jeans and runners, his face lit up as each patient approached him.  ‘Selfies’ with the good doctor were the order of the night along with generous helpings of pulled pork (barbeque – southern style) and chocolate brownies!

Mid-way through the evening, Dr. Carter, with microphone in hand, welcomed the crowd – he seems to be a shy man but the love he feels for his surgical work – giving people back their mobility – shone through.  And the appreciation and love patients felt for this man were obvious.  Admid applause, laughter and cheers -- patients were happy to be here.


So why do I feel this 'byte of observation' is worthy of a full blog? In a big country and a southern state embroilled and riled up with a maniacal Trump, where open-carry laws (guns) are more important than Sandy Hook children’s lives and where people of colour must rush to the streets in Charlotte North Carolina to proclaim what should be obvious and of concern to all of us  – Black Lives Do Matter. . .

We need a sweet story for a change

From the Outer Banks of North Carolina, see you in a few weeks back in beautiful Oz...