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Bill’s excellent adventure

Thursday, 2nd January, 2014

“Busker Bill” Finney will soon set off down the Murray River in his tinny. PICTURES: Darrin Manuel “Busker Bill” Finney will soon set off down the Murray River in his tinny. PICTURES: Darrin Manuel

By Andrew Robertson

He might be a few weeks shy of 85 but “Busker Bill” Finney has still got plenty of things left on his ‘bucket list’.

The indomitable pensioner will soon be able to tick one of them off as he prepares to embark on his latest adventure: a trip down the Murray River in a 3.6 metre long tinny.

It’s a challenge not too many people, let alone octogenarians, would contemplate but one the former opal miner is relishing.

“I can’t get away soon enough,” said Bill, who is bounding with an energy and enthusiasm that belies his years.

The trip will be the “completion of a dream” of Bill’s to travel the almost 2000km of river that is navigable.

He completed the first leg - from Yarrawonga in Victoria to Wentworth - many years ago and promised himself to one day go the rest of the way.

That day is almost here, with only the finalisation of the sale of his Zebina Street house and some finishing touches to his unique boat keeping him from the water.

Bill has spent the last three months transforming his flat-bottomed tinny into a miniature homemade houseboat, complete with toilet, stove and solar panels.  

The retired mechanic did almost all of the work himself in his backyard.

“It’s got everything,” said Bill, who settled in Broken Hill 14 years ago from White Cliffs.

He estimates the journey from Wentworth to Goolwa will take about 20 days, well within his self-imposed deadline.

His goal is to complete the trip by the time he celebrates his 85th birthday in six weeks.  

Despite the long, slow journey ahead of him, Bill isn’t worried about boredom setting in. When he’s not fishing, reading or writing his memoirs, the saxophonist can always stop off along the way and do some busking.

Because it isn’t seaworthy, Bill won’t be able to complete the entire journey in his little boat.

So, when he reaches Wellington, he plans to hire another one to travel the final 10 to 15km to the river’s mouth.    

When the journey does come to an end Bill has his sights set on more adventures, including possibly turning around and heading back up the Murray.

“I want to go to Bali and the Incas in South America,” he said.

A trip to Antarctica is also on the “to do” list.

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