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The Jandra is back on the waterwith a new Captain – Mike Weston

Mike Weston, the new captain of the PV Jandra. TWH

he new captain of the PV Jandra has swapped the control panels of a 747 Jumbo jet aircraft for the wheel of the historic paddleboat.

Instead of powering down the world’s airport runways, Mike Weston is now happy to cruise down the peaceful waters of the Darling River, imparting local knowledge to tourists.

Mike also has a vision for the future of the Jandra and the role it plays as an iconic tourist attraction for Bourke.

A former QANTAS captain, Mike has most recently been working as a commercial fisherman at Brooklyn near Sydney, but when he saw the job for the Jandra captain’s position, he thought it was an opportunity too good to pass up.

Almost two weeks ago, he arrived in Bourke and said he was thoroughly enjoying life on the river in contrast to his life in the air and on the sea.

“I have been a commercial fisherman on the Hawkesbury River for the past five years, but I injured my shoulder and couldn’t do any heavy lifting for a couple of months, so my wife said I had to find some work, and I thought there can’t be much lifting in a paddleboat,” Mike said.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve been impressed with how beautifully kept the town is, how friendly everyone is, and the fantastic climate, at the moment at least.

“The Jandra is great, but I never pictured myself driving a paddleboat. It’s a great little cruise down the river and seeing all the wildlife and learning more about the history, which is what also piqued my interest, because the story of the Darling River paddleboats is fascinating.

“I have always been involved in travel and I have a lot of skills from previous employments. I was a jackaroo in Outback western Queensland, then I was an aircraft pilot in Papua New Guinea for five years, and before that I was with Qantas for 34 years.

“So, I’ve gone from captaining a 747 to captain of a paddleboat in Bourke, where it’s just me and the river. […]

Read more in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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