A Moama couple are looking forward to their eighth Murray Meander this weekend.By Ashlea Kunowski
A Moama couple will this weekend compete in the annual Murray Meander for the eighth time, as the event moves into the middle leg of the three year circuit.
Simon and Ellie Bourke have taken part in the event since it began in 2006 and will make the eight-day trek to Mildura this weekend.
The charity event raises funds for Bendigo’s Otis Foundation which provides free retreat accommodation for breast cancer patients and provides funding for the Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia’s oncology nursing scholarships.
Mrs Bourke said the fundraiser was personal, as people close to the family had been affected by cancer.
‘‘We’ve had a few friends of ours have breast cancer and Simon’s father had prostate cancer,’’ she said.
Having participated in the Meander for almost a decade, the Bourke’s say the event has become a big part of their family.
Mrs Bourke said their youngest son, Patrick, had taken part in six out of the total eight event legs.
‘‘It’s been a great experience for him,’’ she said.
‘‘So much to learn out on the river and people skills.’’
The Bourke family has celebrated milestone birthdays over the course of the Meander.
Two years ago, eldest son Jack celebrated his 21st and Simon turned 50.
‘‘It was great, we had a fantastic time,’’ she said.
Mrs Bourke said her family’s participation in the event had been a great experience.
‘‘We’ve enjoyed it, we’ve met lots of fantastic people,’’ she said.
She said the pair looked forward to seeing how this year’s Echuca to Mildura leg will have changed.
‘‘It will be interesting to see what the river will be like this time,’’ she said.
‘‘One year we did this leg and (the river) was extremely low — we had to get out and push.’’
Mrs Bourke said the pair did not plan on stopping any time soon.
‘‘There was always a good reason to do the next one,’’ she said.
This year the Bourke’s will take friends, Angela and Jim Walsh, down the Murray with them for the first time.
Event co-ordinator Dick Phillips said the Bourke family were one of only two families to have taken part in every event.
‘‘The good thing with them is they’ve brought new people into the team most years,’’ he said.
Although team numbers were down this year, with 34 entries, Mr Phillips said the event has drawn entries from places in the state it had not before.
‘‘(There’s) a real cross-section of people,’’ he said.
Crews will set off from the Echuca East boat ramp from noon this Saturday, with boats are expected to arrive in Mildura before 3pm next Saturday.
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