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The Wenches

  • Mary Jo Putney

  • Patricia Rice

  • Susan Fraser King

  • Anne Gracie

  • Nicola Cornick

  • Andrea Penrose

  • Christina Courtenay

In Memoriam

  • Jo Beverley
    Word Wench 2006-2016

  • Edith Layton
    Word Wench 2006-2009

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June 2023

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  • Years published: 164

    Novels published: 231

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    Range of story dates: nine centuries (1026-present)

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Lovely blog, Anne. It's always interesting to learn more about Australia. A paddle steamer anywhere with a posse of wenches and readers would be delightful.


Yes, I have been on a riverboat, the S.S. President, on the Mississippi. It was part of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, musical concerts would take place on the boat, as they took us on a little cruise up the river and back down again. Jazz concerts and dances on the boats were a tradition on the Mississippi for a long time. It sure was memorable for me!
I was sad to just read that the President is currently dismantled and rusting away. It was the only remaining "Western Rivers" style sidewheel river excursion steamboat in the U.S.
It's wonderful that Australia was able to save that history with the Adelaide. I would love to take an excursion on it, if I ever visit "Down Under".
This website documents the history of riverboats and jazz. http://jazz.tulane.edu/exhibits/riverboats/gallery#Streckfus

Laurel Hawkes

I attend a Lord of the Rings conference at the Pleasant Hill Shaker Village. They have riverboat rides. It was delightful. http://www.shakervillageky.org/riverboat_rides/

Sonya Heaney

Whoops - I didn't realise at first who wrote this post (because, you know, actually reading your name at the start wasn't a clue!), and I thought: They have an Echuca in America, too?

I'm sure my various family holidays as a child saw me on paddle steamers or something along those lines, but I don't really remember.

I can't remember ever reading a book involving one - maybe if I read more books set in the US south...?


I take boat trips whenever I can when I'm playing tourist. I think it was a paddlewheel in New Orleans, but I'm not sure.

When I was home in Idaho one time, I drove to Coeur d'Alene to take a cruise of the lake and the Shadowy St. Joe. I did a Nile River Cruise when I was in Egypt; too bad the security situation isn't good enough to do it now. I rode a dhow several times when visiting some of the GCC countries. Closer to home, I've taken river cruises on the Potomac, James, and Rappahannock Rivers in Virginia. The James river plantations were built when the James River was the main means of transportation, so some their landscaping includes gardens from the house to the river.

Anne Gracie

Thanks, Jo -- yes, I've been fantasizing about a wenchly trip with readers on a riverboat ever since I thought of the idea.

Anne Gracie

Karin, that sounds lovely. What a perfect combination -- riverboats and jazz. There are a few rotting riverboats here, but I think it's been easier to save ours because they're so much smaller. The ones I've "seen" in the US are almost the size of cruise ships.

Anne Gracie

Laurel, thanks for that link -- I would love to visit that place and take the ride, as well as see everything else. I've been to the Plymoth historical village, but I've never seen a Shaker place. It's going on my list for next time I'm over your way.

Anne Gracie

Sonya, I *know* I've read some riverboat books, but I can't for the life of me remember the titles or the authors.

I don't usually post a lot about Australia on Word Wenches, but I thought the combination of the stunning local library, as well as paddle steamers was irresistible.

Anne Gracie

Shannon, it sounds like you've had some wonderful river trips. I'm envious. I've been to new Orleans a couple of times, but have never taken a riverboat ride. I did plan at one stage to book a trip up the Mississippi on a riverboat, staring in Ohio (where a friend had promised to feed me "Cincinatti 3-ways") and ending up in Dubuque, Iowa, where I have another good friend, but it never eventuated.

And my dream for years has been to take a trip on the Nile -- a felucca on the Nile, in fact, though I have only the vaguest notion what a felucca is. :) But as you say, the security situation hasn't been too attractive in recent years. But one day. . . And in the meantime I can reread books like Agatha Christie and Elizabeth Peters's Crocodile on the Sandbank, one of my all time favorite keepers.

Louisa Cornell

What a lovely post. And I do love the view from those library windows! I've ridden a number of riverboats in Mississippi and Louisiana. I road one in Memphis and Savannah as well.

I never really thought about them being in Australia, but I don't know why not. Australia, like the West in America was a great frontier.

There is even a riverboat that cruises the river in Montgomery, a town about 20 miles from where I live.

I like the slow, lazy mode of travel and the chance to watch the riverbanks for alligators and birds and other wildlife. It's like watching a nature documentary live.


Great blog Anne, because my Mum was born in Echuca, and her father my grandfather and his brothers actually built some of the very last river boats (paddle steamers) there at the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century. Also my Dad's father was born in Echuca. So you might say it is almost my family home town. There used to be a boat called the Etona, which was funded by the boys of Eton College in the UK and used as a missionary boat to sail up and down the river in order to marry people and christen their children, often all done on the same day, so I have been told. Great place Echuca.

I have believe Nora Roberts based one of her books on a River Boat casino, but can't remember which book it was. Also I seem to remember from way back a series of historical books set on the Mississippi in the 1960s. A male author, maybe someone can place him?

Sonya Heaney

Well I, for one, would be more than happy to see more about Australia. But that's probably because I'm Australian. :)

Linda S

Ah, yes, the famous Cincinnati three-way chile! And the boat must have been the Delta Queen. It was headquartered for many years in Cincinnati. I never got to take a trip on it , but it was well-known to those of us living in southern Ohio. I believe it's currently serving as a floating hotel farther down the river.
Riverboats always remind me of the musical Showboat and the Disney production Davy Crockett and the River Pirates (Mike Fink). I'm sure I'm showing my age with that last one.


Felucca is a relatively sailboat, most on the small size although there a big ones for parties. They're easy to get and relatively cheap. In 1992, the going tourist rate was $20-50 for about an hour or hour and a half ride in Cairo on the Nile. Local students would negotiate me the student or local rate. There's lots of boat docks on the Zamalek side of the river near all the casinos.

Anne Gracie

Oh, you temptress, you! *g*
Thanks for that information. sigh. I so wish Id been able to go back then.

Anne Gracie

Jenny how interesting about the Etona — I never knew that, and didnt come across any mention of it in my travels.
You really do have a history in Echuca, dont you, with so many family roots leading back there.
I dont remember that Nora Roberts book -- but then again, she has written 200, so we cant be expected to remember all of them. Someone might know, though -- we have some amazing readers on this blog -- people will minds like steel traps for remembering books and titles and authors.

Anne Gracie

Oh, I didnt realize it was no longer in use. It was only a few years ago I was planning this trip.
But. . . the best-laid plans and all that.

Still, theres always the Cincinnati -3 way chilli to look forward to. *g*

Anne Gracie

Louise, yes, I think it would be lovely to ride on a riverboat and watch the world slip slowly by.
Ive travelled by ship, but on the ocean theres not a lot of changing scenery.
Its not surprising you wouldnt think of riverboats in Australia -- as I said, our rivers arent nearly as wide or as extensive as yours.
Well some of them are, but theyre up north in the tropics, where there are more crocodiles than people, so not a lot of demand for boats.

Id be happy with the view from that library, too. Pity you cant import a view like that to the city, where I live.


Oh, you've just reminded me, in Loretta Chase's "Mr. Impossible" which takes place in Egypt, they travel on the Nile! I'm pretty sure it was on a felucca. Just the word "felucca" sounds so romantic, it makes me want to go one too. "Mr. Impossible" is a keeper for me, wonderful and hysterically funny romance.


Anne, I enjoyed your blog on the riverboats in Australia. I have been fortunate to have traveled on a riverboat on the Columbia River and on the Mississippi River. It was a very relaxing experience. I think the Twilight paddlewheel is still running on the Mississippi from a smalltown in Iowa to Dubuque,Ia.

Anne Gracie

Yes,its a fabulous book, isnt it? Maybe what we need is a Wenches-and-readers tour of the Nile in a felucca. Sounds lovely to me.

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