Paddle Boat News May 2011

April Quiz

The paddle box in the PBN photo quiz for April was that of the PB Paddle Cat, based at Mildura. I received two correct answers.

May Quiz

Where is this weir situated ? ... clues ... it's in the Murray Darling system. It has a lock chamber just out of shot on the left. Photo taken 1974

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PB Flender Himmel has a make-over

Correspondent = Shawn Greer, owner - Flender Himmel went up on the slip Monday 17 Jan and came back off on Sun March 20, after having had the hull sandblasted and repainted inside and out.
Involved removing all machinery and items from the hull. Not to mention getting sand in every conceivable other place on the boat.
Has also undergone many mechanical and general improvements plus lots of overdue general maintenance, repairing all the stuff we have hooked up on snags over the years!
Also I am now redoing all the electrics and building a new helm.

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Heading of on Sunday 28th March, partially completed to go to Renmark, however now will only be going to Lock 2. This will be a good ‘shakedown’ trip to see how everything performs.

PS Mary Ann

Further to my research on PS Gemini, I decided that to complete the story I should research Mary Ann, one of the hulls of Gemini. Not counting the March 1853 trip when she had to turn back from Penn's Reach because of low water, I can only find evidence of two trips by the Mary Ann, both to Maiden's punt; one in late1853 and one in late 1854. By April 1855 she was being converted into the twin hulled steamer Gemini.

PS Industry Centenary weekend

The Mildura fleet departed from below Lock 11 on Saturday 26th March 2011 and at Wentworth met up with PB William Albert and PS James Maiden. All of the crews of the vessels met at the WEntworth Club for a meal. With fantastic weather and a strong assisting current we headed off from Wentworth on Sunday 27th. None of the weirs were in so it was down through the navigation passes without any delays for lockages, which truly speeded up our times and allowed us to stop for lunch and to investigate other streams such as the Lindsay Creek/River (not sure which one is correct) Impulse, Shiralee, William Albert, Settler and James Maiden made up the fleet. MV Emu caught up to us on our second night out, having left Euston on Monday morning, making about 180km per day, including time to stop and shop at Mildura. James Maiden had at least one breakdown per day and Settler managed to connect with a gum tree and put a bit of a dent in her starboard paddle box. Impulse investigated every little creek and billabong Robert could find. We all detoured up the old river at Wilkinson's Cutting and visited the new brewery there. Settler and William Albert circumnavigated the Higgins Cutting bend, coming back upstream through the cutting after going around the bend with the current. William Albert and Impulse spent a night up the Lindsay with MV Last Resort and houseboat My Way.
We arrived at Renmark ahead of schedule and just ahead of the PS Ruby. With some difficulty we moored at the Renmark river front .... difficult because of the river level and the fact that the lower walkway along the foreshore was 6" - 8" under water, an ideal height for paddles to walk along. We used props and drop poles to hold the paddles off the walkway. PS Industry and PS Ruby conducted passenger trips on the Saturday and Sunday and the private paddle boats did some parading in circles on four occasions, making quite a good show.

It was unfortunate that Lock 2 could not be passed, so the down river vessels could not make it to Renmark. They did their own thing though and came to Morgan. Oscar W & Marion paddle steamers as well as PB Flender Himmel.
Settler, Emu and Shiralee have continued on downstream, hoping, one day, to get to Goolwa.
William Albert and Ruby have headed off upstream. William Albert could not stem the nav pass current at Lock 8, even after three goes, one of them with a 60hp tinnie towing. There has been some damage to her gearbox so she is tied below the lock whilst the repairs take place.
PS Ruby had some trouble at Lock 9, with the current and swirls causing her to collide with the lock chamber, splitting the sponson deck spring beam and springing a plank or two. She was a day late arriving back at Wentworth and will go up on Pointon's slip at Buronga for repairs.
Frank & Kay Tucker left William Albert on Sunday and drove back to Red Cliffs then on to Swan Hill on Monday where Frank assisted Clare Jackson in PB Murrundi to pass under the Swan Hill bridge and up to Murray Downs Marina. On Tuesday morning they departed Swan Hill in PB Miralie, heading for home, at last. (They left Red Cliffs upstream on October 6th 2010 with MV Emu and made it to Yarrawonga and back to Echuca, being held up first by Barham bridge and then by Swan Hill bridge). After a trouble free and fast trip down, they arrived back at their Karadoc mooring at about 2pm on Sunday, having lost a day along the way with family visits and social commitments. At a comfortable chug along engine speed, with current assist Miralie easily averaged 12 - 13 km ph. Murphy's Cutting at Piangil was quite exciting and the heart rate jumped a bit. (Very fast water, snags, overhanging tree and saplings.). We decided to take the cutting rather than go around the island because we had a report from Ted Ward in PB Iron Dry that a large tree had fallen almost across the river on the bottom end of the island and that both Iron Dry and Shay had suffered some damage as they tried to negotiate passage past it.

PB Tamara Rae from Moorook and Minimus PS from Geelong also attended the Centenary Celebrations.

The audio and visual display in the Function room at the Renmark hotel was impressive with photos and data on the paddle steamer Industry and other steamers, both current and of years gone by.

The attendance of PS Ruby at Renmark was impressive as well .... probably her first trip down the river to Renmark in C80 years. She had a fantastic run down the river, clipping along at 13 - 15 km ph under easy revs.

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Fleet gathered at Wentworth wharf

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Rafted up for a lunch stop

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Circling up to raft up for a night stop

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Another lunch stop

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Emu caught up to the fleet on day 3

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Devil's Elbow cliffs - spectacular!

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Socialising at Frenchman's Creek overnight stop

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Yabbying expidition

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Settler munching on a gum tree

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PS Industry & PS Ruby at Renmark

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The birthday girl

An address for your favourites list is a worthwhile site to look at if you haven't already done so

PB Billy Tea

Billy Tea has been sold to Bob and Judi McGrath. She is now at lock up stage and will remain at Echuca.

PS Pevensey Centenary

The countdown is on to her official centenary celebrations. Echuca correspondent Michael Snell writes ... Pevensey has a large banner on her upper rear deck about her 100th birthday.
A lot of the days are kid based events, cooking onboard in the galley, or doing science wiz kid things!!
Others are your normal cruise to Morrisons Winery for lunch and collect a complimentary wine.
St Annes wines are doing a Pev Port
And the Echuca Port will be selling official merchandise.
Some main dates are:
Day 17 Thur 28/4 Helen Coulson, local historian onboard for questions
Day 21 & 48 re working bee's to paint the Pev
Numerous Nights showing "All the Rivers Run 1 & 2 onboard her back deck.
Day 54/55 Sat 4/6 Sun 5/6 Full Day Mystery Cruises... I'm presuming this is her trip to Torrumbarry and Return. Contact Port for details
Few days where there will be Art and Photography displays of the Pevensey at Star Hotel
Day 99 Tues 19/7 Release of the Echuca Historical book titled 'PS Pevensey 100 Years On'
Day 100 Wed 20/7/2011 'This is your Life' Information released on Day 50 (Tues 31/5)
Community members are encouraged to keep abreast of the daily activities through the Echuca Paddleasteamers website, Facebook- PS Pevensey 100 Day Countdown, Blog –

If you would like a copy of the program contact the Port of Echuca Gift Shop on 03 5482 4248, 52 Murray Esplanade, Echuca.

For further information contact:
Belinda Owen
Phone: (03) 5482 4248 or 0439 067 886
or try -

Hot News

I had a text message from Jesse Wagner (Emu) this morning (27/4/11); Lock 2 is operational and Emu is on her way home ... to Goolwa, having been away since about June 2010.

Roderick Smith's Travels - Pooncarie to Wentworth

My December voyage with Jessie II was Swan to Robinvale, with side trips up the Wakool, Edwards and Murrumbidgee. The January voyage covered Wemen - Mildura, including passage around the original channel while the weir was out, and a token 1 km up Bengallow Creek.

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Jessie 2 at Pooncarie

I launched at Pooncarie on Mon.4.4, to make a one-way downstream journey with Chris (Florence Annie) as joint skipper.
There was a lot of preparation involved, checking fuel availability, transport availability to collect the car, and measuring the bridge clearance at Pooncarie.
Launching was ok in mud: the ramp was way below the river level. We spent the evening in Telegraph Hotel, and a local offered to drive my car & trailer into Wentworth on Thursday.
On Tuesday we set out at 7.30, at a careful 12 km/h while getting a feel for
snags: there were virtually none. We got under the bridge with 30 cm clear, and increased pace to 15 km/h. This would be a 230 km journey.
Chris had a gps data logger, which shows that we averaged over 15 km/h, and sometimes touched over 16 km/h.
The trail of weed was finely minced leaves: not clogging the propellor, and giving good guidance for the main channel. There was only one place where we made a wrong turn, and the weed soon got as back to the invisible sharp left
We pulled up at the bank at 17.30.
On Wednesday, we had an easy half day to Florence Annie, and each spent the afternoon hard at work on a computer.
On Thursday, we had an easy 90 min into town, and beat the car & trailer by half an hour.

Major achievement - I have now covered the whole Murray from Wellington to Swan Hill, plus Goolwa to the mouth; below Torrumbarry - Barmah Lake; and below Tocumwal – Yarrawonga; Darling River - Wentworth – Pooncarie; Wakool River -to above the Edwards confluence; Edwards River - a token kilometre; Campaspe River - about 3 km; Goulburn River - about 5 km from the Murray confluence; plus a major stretch at Nagambie and much of Lake Eildon.

Murray Skippers Association Annual Get-together & AGM

Will be held at MAnnum on May 3rd & 4th 2011

Ruby Imprint

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Ruby's bow imprint at Ned's Corner wood pile

Echuca Easter Parade

(Correspondent = Leith Hall)
The Sailpast was a lot smaller than previous years, but still a great night.
The Port didn't take the Pevensey out for the sailpast which consisted of the Hero, Canberra, Emmylou, Pride of the Murray, Struggler & MV Mary Ann.
Hero left the onion patch a bit after 6 and arrived back about 3 hours later, steaming upriver to the East Boat Ramp and back, then down river to just below the Barmah's mooring and then rounding up and steaming back to the Riverboat Dock for the fireworks; Hero rafted off the stern of the EmmyLou and the Canberra rafted off Hero.
After the firworks we steamed back up river, probably to about Bowers Bend, then rounded up again then back to the onion patch.
The Ranger went out on Saturday on a picnic trip, and the Barmah went out on Sunday. The Tooraloora is still up on the slip; The annodes have been fitted and the steering mechanism should be complete by now.
The slip itself needs some work as there is still a lot of mud over the rails.

PS Marion & PS Oscar W at Morgan

Paddle Boat News

PS Marion and PS Oscar W at Morgan April 2011 - Photo by Phil Reed

The River Trade

Riverine Herald, March 28th 1879
THE RIVER TRADE:- The vessel owners of Echuca are ever alive to take advantage of the least
rise in the river, and whenever a fresh comes down they run boats to Gunbower, Swan Hill, and other
handy ports. Within the last three or four days, a rise of about three feet has taken place in the Murray at
Echuca, caused by heavy rains at the headwaters of the Murray. Should the river maintain its height or
rise still higher, on Monday it is the intention of Messrs. Wm. McCulloch and Co., to start loading three
vessels for Murrumbidgee ports and one for the Darling. The Murrumbidgee is at present a splendid
stream, running bank to bank, whilst the Darling is in an excellent state for such an uncertain river for
navigation. The “Agnes”, “Pioneer” and the “Riverina” are the vessels which it is intended to dispatch
to Hay, and the “Alfred” (one of the fastest boats on the river) for the Darling. There will be no lack
of cargo, and higher rates are obtained for carriage of goods when the river is low, as an equivalent for
the extra work and risk incurred.

Riverine Herald, January 27th 1879

Echuca Shipping 1879

At present there are over thirty vessels in port, nearly all of which have laid up for the season.

At the wharves-steamers “Invincible”, “Golconda”, “Kingfisher”, “Little Wonder”, “Bunyip” and barges “Gunbower”, “Leviathan”, “Reliance”, “Canally”, “Pelican” and the barge belonging to the “Bunyip”.

Just above the floating baths the following vessels are moored-the steamer “Murrumbidgee”, and barges “Advance”, “Swallow”, and “Alice”.

Below the baths the steamers “Rob Roy”, “Agnes” and “Edwards” are lying, with their barges “Swan”, “Rabbie Burns”, and “Blue Bells”.

Below the Park fences are the “Ethel Jackson”, “Alfred”, “Resolute”, “Hero” and their barges “Eagle”, “Queen”, and the unnamed barge of the “Resolute”.

A little lower down will be found “Pride of the Murray”, “Pearl” and “Trafalgar” with the barges “Lancashire Witch”, “Sarah Jane” and the “Pearl's” barge.

On the New South Wales side of the river, near the Moama cemetery, are the “Rodney” and “Kelpie” steamers and their barges “Jessie” and “Nelson”.

On the same side of the water near Captain Randell's residence, the “Ruby” steamer and barge, and the “Border Chief” barge are lying.

The “Thistle” steamer is near Moama.

The “Pioneer” and “Freetrader” have laid up under the new iron bridge.

We are informed that the “Elizabeth” will also lay up for the season shortly.

A large number of vessels have yet to come in

Edward Diener

Began his river life as a cabin boy on the P.S. Gem and then gained his engineer's ticket and his captain's ticket.

Began hawking on the river before 1900 with a hand-operated stern wheeler, , possibly bought from William Patey, along with the small barge Ada, plying up and down the Darling River selling small items of haberdashery, clothing ..... etc. William Patey used Ada behind the P.S. Sunbeam, carting "Pick of the Basket" brand jam from Mildura to Morgan.

1893 - Edward bought the small steamer Eva Millicent & set her up as a floating store. The 'Eva Millicent', a stern wheel paddle was used as a home and store on the Darling and Murray Rivers until 1903 by the Diener family. It was then towed by the 'Merle' as a shop barge' until 1911

1904 - Edward built up the P.S. Merle on the river bank at Morgan. He named the boat after his daughter and fitted it out as a floating milliner/grocery shop and traded mainly between Morgan and Mildura.

1908 - Edward built the barge Flo, which he named after his second daughter Florence, which then became the shop. Had a 65' counter. The P.S. Merle then became the towboat and residence for the Diener family.

1917 - During a storm, the SWPS Merle sank whilst crossing Lake Alexandrina and the family took refuge on board the Flo barge until rescued. Miss Merle Diener, aged 16 years, eldest daughter of Captain Diener was a girl of grit. Standing at the wheel of the boat during the storm, she stuck to her post whilst the craft was sinking and did not leave until she was actually washed out of the wheelhouse. She took the wheel from her father while other members of the family were being transferred to the barge Flo. Merle married Roy Hall

1917 - at Goolwa, the Flo was cut in half, and a further 40' was built amidships.. She was fitted with the machinery from the Merle and renamed Kookaburra. (then the longest steamer on the river - 140')

The P.S. Kookaburra operated as a trading boat between Morgan and Mildura until 1956 when the Diener family left the river.

Ref: Redgum & paddle wheels - Diener died December 1923

Ref: The Wheels Still Turn - The P.S. Eva Millicent was turned into a barge and used with the Merle for a while. Renamed Eva. After E.E. Diener retired, his son Tom took over the Kookaburra until it was sold in 1928 to Elders Trustees, then, soon after, to Bill Collins Senior, who later gave it to his daughter Pearl.

Paddle Boat News

A hand paddler - taken at Morgan in 1904