Popeye has been plying the River Torrens since 1935 in one form or another – and has become a much loved feature of the landscape…or waterscape … of Adelaide. In the good company of the Hills hoist and the frog cake, it’s an official SA icon, a special treat for generations of kids. In 1977 it even transformed into a royal barge, ferrying the Queen and Prince Phillip during their visit.
You’ve probably got your own happy childhood memories of Popeye, but I’m about to introduce you to the grown up version of fun on the Torrens. All aboard for Floating Melodies.
It’s a re-invigorated role for the old gal – Floating Melodies is a little like a soiree with sightseeing… an hour-long evening cruise for up to 4 dozen guests, with talented entertainers, and delicious locally produced food and drinks. And all the while, the peaceful river views float on by, and Captain Tony Shuman keeps us steady as she goes.
Emma Knights has been performing on piano since kindergarten… and wanted to find a way to showcase South Australian talent, and create opportunities for her fellow musicians, like singers Joanna McWaters and Andrew Turner.
Emma: I started it around the time that Spring Valley was having trouble, and the support that the community showed for them, made we think, oh there is an audience out there, or a community out there that’s willing to support South Australian products.
And not just the musical products- the platters are stocked with South Australian goodies, and the wines and beers are local too.
Emma co-ordinates the evenings around a specific theme – tonight, we have a musical tasting plate: a little light opera, some cabaret and guitar – but she’s also held a Bollywood event and a Japanese Tea Ceremony during the Oz Asia Festival.
Right now, thanks to performer Georgia Darcy, I could be convinced I’m floating along the Seine.
Emma: A lot of the people that do come to these concerts aren’t people that would normally come and take a ride on the Popeye, and a lot of people are people that haven’t been on it since they were children, so um they’ve been coming out in droves and enjoying the wines and cheeses, and beverages and performances.
And a quick straw poll backs up Emma’s research: for most of the guests, Popeye’s been a neglected friend til now.
Briony: How long since you’ve been on Popeye?
Guest: Look I can still remember it. It was primary school; I reckon I was in grade 3. And, I haven’t been on it since. And this is just a great way of seeing it and certainly Adelaide with the brilliant lights and stuff, along with this music and the food and the entertainment, just brilliant.
Guest: This is a great experience. Firstly because I haven’t been on the river Torrens for so long, other that running around, and it’s just amazing to see what we have with Adelaide that we don’t appreciate, so and the whole, the music’s been fantastic, it’s a great evening…beautiful.
To the strains of Reid Sampson’s guitar, we settle back into the final relaxing stretch of our journey. It’s gone all too quickly – And I’m very glad I’ve re-acquainted myself with this childhood favourite. Have a look at Emma’s website to connect up with the next Floating Melodies adventure, grab a group of friends, and re-connect yourself with the heart of our city.