April 2011 Paddle Boat News

March Quiz

Thank you to those who replied ... most with the correct answer which was, the centre pivot mechanism for the old Hay swing bridge.

Paddle Boat News

April Quiz

Which Murray River paddle boat does this paddle box belong to? Clue: She was once a high flier and one of her sister vessels was seen at Swan Hill recently..

Paddle Boat News

Our past river men were amazing

I have been researching the PS Gemini, not for any particular reason, and I am amazed at the extent of her travels and the amount of trips that she undertook in the early years of river navigation. With her home base at Mannum she was often at Swan Hill, sometimes at Moama, up the Darling almost to the Queensland border, up the Murrumbidgee on numerous occasions to at least Hay, often further and most of her trips ended at Goolwa where she offloaded her cargo of wool and hides and took on stores and supplies before turning around and doing it all again. Sometimes with one, two or even three barges in tow. And, she must have been cumbersome, especially on the Darling and Murrumbidgee Rivers.


Paddle Boat News

One for the Steam Buffs and those who love the River!

Fancy a day on the river on board the historic PS Ruby cruising from the Port of Wentworth to Lock 9 where you can inspect the historic Kulnine Pump which will be opened especially for the PS Ruby visit?

This will be Day One of PS Ruby’s historic trip to Renmark SA for the PS Industry 100th Celebrations. Day passengers will join the PS Ruby’s overnight passengers early on Tuesday 29 March for ‘a day on the river’ cruising through some of the most beautiful and remote parts of the river Murray.

Board at Wentworth on Tuesday 29 March at 9.30am to cruise through the Junction, past Lock 10, the Yelta Aboriginal Mission site (1868), Junction of the Anabranch and Murray, Fort Courage (Fishing Club), Anabranch Woolshed, remains of PS Sapphire, site of old Moorna Mail Change, remains of Emerald Barge, Moorna Station Homestead (1864), Frenchman’s Creek (inlet to Lake Victoria) before mooring near Lock 9. Day passengers will have some time to walk and explore the Kulnine Steam Pump before joining the bus for the trip back to Wentworth.

An all inclusive price of $60 per person includes a 4 hour cruise (62 river kms), morning and afternoon tea, a light lunch and return bus trip to Wentworth, but book early as only limited places are available.

Bookings for this day cruise and the overnight cruises through to Renmark are being taken by the Wentworth Accredited Visitor Information Centre Phone: 03 5027-3624 or email tourism@wentworth.nsw.gov.au. Cruise brochures for overnight trips are also available from the PS Ruby website – www.psruby.com/programs.php

PS Oscar W

Thanks Phil Reed for this update - Because of the problems at Lock 2 Oscar will not be coming to Renmark but will be doing day trips out of Morgan. It is leaving Goolwa at 0700 Thursday 24/03. The flood peak has passed Morgan but the river has only dropped about 50mm.

SWPB Dromedary Expedition

By Andrew Cook: I joined Rex before work to travel through the pass at L9, we approached at full tilt on account of the current, at the critical moment in a swirl of current the steering failed and the sprocket sheared off the paddle wheel, the current swung us into the Lock wall then dropped us into the back current beside the wall. The boat just sat there, stationery, like it was planned, after a moment she drifted in close enough to get a line out and moor up.
The situation was assessed, the wheel and sprocket were welded back together, the steering cable reunited ( with extra clamps) and DROMEDARY was ready to go again.
The second approach was much more sedate with only a little extra throttle to get over the hump. Lesson learnt.

Pooncarie to Wentworth.

Dromedary was moored at Tarcoola station just a few k’s downstream from Pooncarie bridge. Rex myself and two of his mates Darren and Peter arrived there Sunday evening, we loaded our gear, had a meal and I enjoyed a beautiful star lit night (every time the din of mosquitoes woke me up).
Monday morning saw us welding up the sprocket again, it was strained in an excursion off the river on the way upstream.

Paddle Boat News

We got underweigh mid morning with Colin and Pat Wakefield from Tarcoola on board and headed up to the bridge for a photo shoot. Satisfied we could not get under the bridge we swung about in a little back current and headed down.
At Tarcoola we pulled in, head up, to pick up a rope. To go about and head down required a few flanking manoeuvres in the narrow bend.

Paddle Boat News

In a few short hours it became apparent what a task the Skippers and Bargemasters of the day had handling in excess of 1000 tonnes of plant downstream in mile after mile of relentless tight bends, it would have taken a mental and physical fitness akin to an F1 driver.
We on the other hand on Dromedary occasionally had to get off the wheelhouse stool to pour on a little extra helm here and there.
Sometime around midday we pulled into Minda station and our passengers disembarked. On going about we continued downstream until 6ish? Whilst mooring an ominous grinding sound was heard emanating from the rear of the vessel. On investigation it was discovered that a bearing was protesting and was due to seize. After much deliberation and getting covered in grease it was decided nothing could be done except to proceed to Mildura at minimum revs and haul the vessel out for repairs. Good plan if she makes it, over 200 k’s to go!
It was decided to head off at day break and cover as much river as possible without stopping.
Daybreak Tuesday comes and Rex calls out “daybreak fellas” no one stirred and about 2 minutes latter Rex muttered “crows ‘ll peck ya eyes out”. He must have been concerned we had perished .

Paddle Boat News

Paddle Boat News

The plan to travel non-stop went pretty well except for a couple of excursions off the river into what looked like the river but wasn’t. Some clues were an increased abundance of snags then an obvious lack of water in which to proceed. The helmsman at the time was quickly forgiven as there were numerous times when the decision to go left or right was left to the last minute.
Tuesday night was spent 40k above Wentworth having covered approx. 130k for the day
Wednesday saw a leisurely amble into Wentworth arriving at around 11am for the bridge at 2pm Rex and Darren went off to collect the vehicle from Tarcoola and Peter and I took the boat through the bridge and up to Curlwa arriving there about 5.30pm. I disembarked being eternally grateful to Rex and feeling privileged to had such an experience.
Rex and Peter went through Abbotsford br. At 7am Thursday arriving at Mildura late afternoon to be hauled out at Baldwin’s on Friday.
On observing the failed bearing on Sunday it was apparent that it didn’t have many hours to go before something gave.
On the vessel itself, the sternwheel style of this size was in its element. On a few occasions, squeezing between over-hanging limbs and fallen timber, if she had side beaters there would have been some calamity going downstream. That said most of what happens is just noise.

Paddle Boat News

On the river itself, the extended period of lack of flow has seen substantial stands of saplings established on the river bed some contain substantial trees that will survive this flood this in turn will alter the river greatly. As for navigating these stands it was another guessing game which side to go as they completely blocked your view around the bend.
The only place where real potential for damage existed is at Burtundy homestead. There is a massive Red Gum across the river flanked by over-hanging trees. Easy enough heading upstream, downright frightening heading down. Thank goodness there were no beaters sticking out. One might be advised to do some pruning on the way up next time so as to provide a gap to DROP through on the way down.
The gauge reading at Burtundy for the trip was 7.0m (no flow is 0.6m) the river was full and a glorious sight. To get under Pooncarie bridge the reading would need to be about 6.0m for a single deck boat. Two deck vessels would have trouble with overhead power at 7.0m

Dromedary on the 'hard'

SWPB Dromedary, as I pen this data, is in Baldwyn's Boatyard at Mildura undergoing some maintenance and repairs. Her hull was being blasted on Friday 4th March, and Graham Marks has been asked to have a look at the drive chain to see what has to be done to improve same.

Miralie, Iron Dry & Shay paddle boats and Emu river cruiser

Are all waiting to come downstream but are being held up by the high river levels. Emu is below Swan Hill bridge and will depart downstream on Monday 7th March as the river between Murrabit and Tooleybuc is now open again.. It is likely she will be held up at Lock 15, along with PB Bungunyah, as the navigation pass was not removed prior to the last river rise and the lock chamber is currently under water. However, the river has been falling at a few centimetres a day and hopefully will be low enough to enable to boats to use the lock chamber to get past the weir.. Miralie will depart Echuca on Thursday 10th March for a Barham bridge lift, organised for 5.30am Sunday 13th March, followed by a Murrabit lift bridge before continuing on down to Swan Hill. Swan Hill bridge will be a problem for the three above-mentioned paddle boats, ... its much heavier than Barham and the counter weights have been removed so it cannot be lifted, even by crane. RTA has a proposed alternative plan to get us around the bridge. If this can be achieved, Emu and Bungunyah will probably wait at Lock 15 and then the 5 vessels will move down the river together to Mildura, hopefully by March 26th when the Renmark fleet departs from below Lock 11. There is one paddle boat, Murrundi, and a houseboat, waiting below Swan Hill bridge, for passage upstream.

Paddle Boat News

Lock 15 inundated

Latest news

...... Iron Dry is on the ground in Murray Downs Marin and has had her hull blasted and painted. She is to be placed on Harry Pollards trailer and taken by road to Speewa, where the RTA has given permission for the trailer to use the speewa punt ramp to relaunch the boat. She will then proceed downstream.
Lock 15 - The latest news is that it will be mid April, maybe late April, maybe May before the water level has dropped far enough ofr the lock chamber to be cleared and used.
Miralie is in Murray Downs Marina and will stay there until the river falls far enough to get her under Swan Hill bridge. She departed Echuca on Thursday 10th March and ran down to Barham. Barham bridge was lifted with two cranes at 5.30am on Sunday 13th and Murrabit bridge span was raised just after 10am same day. She then ran on down to above Swan Hill and on to Swan Hill on the Monday morning. With the river running as it is, it was very easy going to maintain an average of 12kph.
Black Shag - her owner has decided not to move her and she remains at her mooring in Murray Downs Marina.
Emu - once the river between Murrabit and Tooleybuc was re-opened, Jesse and Mell headed off downstream, under Nyah and Tooleybuc bridges which had to be lifted for them. They ventured up the Wakool River as far as Stony Crossing and up the Edward River for about 15km. As I pen this news, they are at Meilman Station. Emu also waits on Lock 15 to become operational.
Ruby - is definitely going down to Renmark for the PS Industry Centenary Celebrations on April 1, 2 & 3. She will turn back upstream from Renmark, not continuing on to Morgan as originally proposed.
Oscar W & Marion will not be able to get to Renmark for the PS Industry Centenary Celebrations because of Lock 2 works.
The downstream fleet from Mildura and Wentworth, for Renmark, will depart from below Lock 11 on Saturday 26th March.

PS Iron Horse

Luke Roberts of Billy Tea fame has a new paddle steamer in the making. It will be called Iron Horse and the hull is 15.5m x 3.5m and the steam engine is 41/2 x 8 single cylinder with a vertical fire tube boiler 200psi chain driven to the paddle shaft. The wheels are half built but now Luke is thinking about feathering floats

Paddle Boat News


In July this year the ‘jewel’ of the Echuca Paddlesteamers fleet, the PS Pevensey, will celebrate her 100th Birthday. Made famous as the ‘Philiadelphia’ in the TV mini series All the Rivers Run, the paddlesteamer exchanged its cargo of wool bales for tourists visiting the Echuca-Moama region. The Pevensey, or the Pev as she is more affectionately known, has been the centrepiece of many great family holidays and special occasions such as weddings and birthday parties. So now it's her turn to be spoilt!
To celebrate the centenary a 100-day countdown to the historic milestone will begin on 12 April with activities planned each day, with the final event on her birthday - Wednesday, 20 July.
Echuca Paddlesteamers Manager Mark Blunden said, "a full program is being developed, which will see an event hosted each day of the 100-day countdown."
Some of the activities planned include live radio broadcasts, a ‘Pamper the Pev’ working bee, art exhibition and activities based around the mini series - All the Rivers Run.
"This 100-day countdown is a community celebration that will tap into a variety of interests and hobbies, involving the PS Pevensey," Mr Blunden said.
"We are now encouraging community groups to think about how they could be involved in this exciting celebration."

Paddle Boat News

Every lady deservers to be pampered prior to her birthday, so during the month of May the event will be 'Pamper the Pev Working Bee'.
Volunteers are now being sought to assist with this facelift with works including sanding, painting, cleaning and general tidying up. This is a great opportunity for locals to be part of a great fun project to be overseen by Echuca Paddlesteamer staff and shipwrights.
The first day will see the official launch of the 100-day program on Tuesday, 12 April. Community members will be encouraged to keep abreast of the daily activities through the Echuca Paddleasteamers website, along with Facebook and a blog.
If you have ideas for this event, or would like more information on volunteering for the ‘Pamper the Pev’ please contact the Port of Echuca Gift Shop on 03 5482 4248.

For further information contact:
Belinda Owen
Phone: (03) 5482 4248 or 0439 067 886
E-Mail: b.owen@campaspe.vic.gov.au

Steamer advertisements 1871

Ref: The Argus (Melbourne) 27/9/1871
The fast and favourite steamor WARADGERY, JAMES MACE, Master Certificated AA In Register of Australian Shipping, Will be despatched from Echuca Wharf for the above ports On THURSDAY 28th INST. Goods must be at railway by 3pm Wednesday. Passengers leave per 12:30pm train on Thursday. Apply for particulars of freight or passage to WM McCULLOCH and Co., 19 Queen Street.

FAST STEAMER FOR WAHGUNYAH AND ALBURY. The fast and favourite steamer WAHGUNYAH, JOSEPH F. PAGE, Master, Certificated AA in Register of Australian Shipping, having good passenger accommodation, will be despatched from Echuca Wharf, for the above ports, EVERY SATURDAY. Goods must be at railway by 3 p.m. Friday. Passengers leave by 12.30 p.m. train on Saturday. Apply for particulars of freight or passage to WM. M'OULLOOH and Co. 19 Queen-Street

ALBURY and the UPPER MURRAY. WMN Edmondson and Others new and powerful steamer CUMBEROONA and barge, HOWLONG, Make regular trips for Albury and the Upper Murray. Goods intended for next trip should now be sent to Victorian Railways. The passenger accommodation in the Cumberoona is superior to anything on the river. There is a separate cabin for ladies and the steamer carries a stewardess. For particulars freight, &c, JOHN ORR, l8 Queen Street.

FOR WAHGUNYAH and the UPPER MURRAY, Smith and Banks's well-known and favourite steamer JANE ELIZA and barge WANGARATTA, Will leave Echuca for Wahgunyah and the Upper Murray on SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 30. Goods intended for this trip must be at Victorian Railways not later than 12 o'clock on Friday, 29th. For particulars freight, &c, apply to JOHN ORR, l8 Queen Street.

SWAN HILL, BALRANALD, and HAY SATURDAY, 30th INST. SS PEARL, Captain EC RANDELL. Will leave the Echuca Wharf on Saturday, 30th inst All goods to be at Spencer street Railway Station on or before Thursday preceding, addressed care F. Payne, agent. Echuca. Note. Passengers to leave Melbourne by Friday's noon train

Clearing the Goulburn of Logs.

Ref: The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser 24/7/1879 While staying at Tallagaroopna I had an opportunity of witnessing the snagging boats at work clearing the Goulburn (Victoria), of large logs, and, as the process is somewhat novel, a few lines descriptive of it here may perhaps interest my readers. There are two boats engaged in the operation, the small one, with a couple of men, being in advance, taking out brush and light logs, so as to enable the larger boat (which by the way, may almost be dignified by the name of steamer, to operate with more advantage.) The latter, which is called "Fraser" after one of the members for the district, was built by Mr McIntosh, of Echuca, and is nearly 6Oft. long, by over 20ft. in width. It is propelled by means of steam power, and everything on board is in good order, the officers' and men's quarters being well arranged and comfortable. The process of snagging is as follows:- When a large log has to be hauled out of the middle of the river there is often some difficulty experienced in getting a chain over it, and in this case the officer in charge, Mr. T. Quarrier, leaps into the river, and di ing underneath passes a rope weighted with lead or a boathook under the log. A larger chain or rope, if necessary is then attached to it, and this communicates with another chain which runs through a pully fastened to a tree on the bank of the river, and from thence to a windlass on the vessel, which is turned by the engine being set in motion, and the log, no matter what its size or weight, is thus drawn up with apparent ease and deposited on the bank of the river or in any place or position that may be thought necessary. The strongest chains only are used in the work described, and as the vessel is often a considerable distance away from the log to be snagged, a chain 500ft long is then used; but for light logs and handy work a good strong rope is found to act much better. There are nine, or ten men employed in this larger boat, and some idea of the time, labour, and tediousness of the work may be learned from the fact that they had been nearly four months clearing the Goulburn from Shepparton to Tallagaroopna, a distance of 21 miles. They had still from the latter place to McCoy's bridge to do, when I saw them, and as the river had not risen very much since, it will yet be some time before steamers from Echuca are able to reach Shepparton. I understand it is intended to snag the Gouburn as high up as Seymour and when there I do not see why it should not be done all the way to Alexandra, so that steamers could reach that comparatively isolated town, and direct communication could then be established, by way of Seymour, with the metropolis.

Registered Vessels 1876

Ref: The Register (Adelaide) 3/7/1926 The following Murray steamers were on the register of Australian owned vessels in 1876: Adelaide, Alfred, Corrong, Cumberoona, Edwards, Emily Jane, Free Trader, Hero, JHP, Kelpie,Lady Darling. Murrrumbidgee, Pride of the Murray. Princess, Teviot. Undaunted, Victoria, Wahgunyah, Warradgery, Albury, Ariel, Blanche, Culgoa, Emu. Endeavour, Excelsior, Express. Gemini, Gertrude, Goolwa, Jolly Miller, Jupiter, Kennedy, Lady Augusta, Lady Daly, Marinoa, Minindie, Moolgewanke Mundoo, Queen, Nil Desperandum, Pearl, Prince Alfred, Princess Royal, Telegraph, Duke of Edinburgh, Tyro, Vesta, Wentworth, Wilcannia, Corowa. Enterprise,Jane Eliza, Julia Kingfisher. Little Wonder. Moira, Riverina, Rob Roy, and Rodney I am. Sir, &c, A. T. SAUNDERS.