Paddle Boat News - September 2011

September Quiz Question

If you wish, you can email your answer to
Alternatively you can wait for the October PBN to find out the answer. The following photo of a paddle steamer wreck was taken by myself, about 20 miles up the Murrumbidgee River. What is the name of the steamer?

Paddle Boat News

Canally - Berri slip

PS Canally hull went up on to the Berri slip on Monday, August 15th and work started immediately on the cleaning of the hull and shipwright Adam Fitton has the task of replacing some planks and caulking the hull prior to her departure for Morgan.

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Canally was brought across the river using a tinnie. That's Adam with the coiled rope

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Kevin Miers dropping the tarpaulin

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Positioning the Canally over the slip cradles

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Canally on Berri slip ........ The Canally photos, above, were taken from the Canally Facebook page.
Apparently some fast footwork came into play when the tarpaulin was dropped away from the hull ... she began to take in water at a fast rate of knots.

PS William Randell - For Sale

PS William Randell currently at Goolwa SA, 14 years old. Built as a traditional River Murray Paddle Steamer of grey box timber on steel frames with red gum and jarrah floors. This well-maintained vessel has travelled extensively on the Murray system. The engine and boiler is a restored 1923 Ruston Hornsby and is currently certified to 130 PSI. Workshop, engine room and forward cabin in the hull. Saloon and steering at deck level. Master cabin on upper deck. Total accommodation = 10 berths. Some period furnishings on board.
Note: a lay shaft has been recently installed which would make easy conversion to diesel if required. Well worth inspection and discussion on price to suit you.

Paddle Boat News

PS William Randell under weigh above Lock 7
Steam or diesel
Galley – gas stove & electric oven
Steam and electric shower
Holding tanks
Original paddle steamer steering wheel
240v generator
Life jackets and safety equipment
UHF & VHF radios
Red cedar panelling

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PS William Randell at her Hindmarsh Island mooring

Goolwa news - Captain Erol Thorp per the Murray Skippers Newsletter

PS Oscar W had a month off over the winter. The first Sunday of each month will be Oscar W's regular steaming days - from the Goolwa wharf. PS Oscar W celebrates her 104th birthday anniversary this year The Goolwa barrages are mostly closed and water is being maintained at usual levels. (if there is such a thing)

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E J Thorp standing on PS Renmark's bit

Echuca news - by Michael Snell

Hi Frank, I took Struggler up the Goulburn in late July and got up to Stewarts Bridge, but couldn't get under it. Then went up the Campaspe River, with Harry Munro and got up to Rotary Park, without hitting anything.

Paddle Boat News

Struggler, camped in the Goulburn - July 2011
We have started having little riverboat rambles here at Echuca. The first one was in mid July when Tooraloora, Ranger, BillyTea and Struggler cruised up past Echuca East boat ramp, stopped for lunch then cruised back. Horrible weather that day. We are having another one this Sunday and hope to cruise a bit further upstream, with a few more boats, Britannia and Ivy May are at least two more that are coming.

Paddle Boat News

trip to sandbar at horshoe lagoon, Perricoota, Britannia,Tooraloora, Ivy May, Ranger, Billy Tea, Struggler
Adam Fitton had Barmah up on the slip and put in 6 new spotted gum planks, plus some work to the stem post. All the timbers were original, some only consisting of layer upon layer of carbog!!

Paddle Boat News

Adam Fitton, shipwright, working on PS Barmah
Canberra has just come off slip with a couple of new planks put in her as well She was supposed to have a new stem post fitted, but with fluctuating river levels, it was postponed for next time.

Hero is doing its second Tom Turner cruise toTorrumbarry Sept 11 or 12, trying to beat its fastest time from last year

Echuca Wharf works are still not going to plan, with the river going up and down so much. The engineer has called in 3 underwater divers to help with the installation of the pylons. They still hope to be finished by the Christmas period.

Echuca Heritage Festival in on October 1 & 2 ….. keep an eye on facebook for updates.

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PS Hero under weigh at Echuca - wedding party on board

A new paddle steamer book

I have recently been sent a copy of the latest paddle steamer book to hit the shelves. It is titled "The End of an Era", was written by David & Margaret Dowley and members of the Mannum Dock Museum from notes and photographs of Captain John Weaver. I have read the book, as per my way, with highlighter pen in hand. I am very pleased to report that I only used it once. I found the book to be a fantastic record of life on a paddle steamer with lots of anecdotal references and information. I recommend it to anyone interested in paddle steamers on the Murray River system ($24.95 and available in the Mannum Visitor Information Centre)

It was not always plain sailing

Ref: The South Australian Register 28/02/91 Wilcannia, February 27. Captain Brown, of the steamer Florence Annie, reports that after leaving Menindie one of the passengers showed decided symptoms of insanity, having struck the fireman several blows with a hammer. He was roped down and handed over to the police on the steamer's arrival at Wilcannia. He appeared before the local Bench yesterday, and was remanded for medical examination. The man's name is Michael Carroll. The river began to fall at Bourke this morning. The steamer South Australian left Wentworth for Darling ports today.

Mannum dock engine

Riverine Herald, September 4th 1879 (Mannum correspondent)
TRACTION ENGINE:- 'Rather a novel sight was seen on the Adelaide road a few days ago. A
large traction engine belonging to Captain Randell was steamed from Mannum to Gumeracha without
any mishap. On the following morning it towed a trolley laden with fuel, and a large tank filled with
water for the use of the engine, and also a buggy very easily. There are several very stiff hills between
here and Gumeracha, one in particular known as Palmer Hill, where the gradients are very steep, but
the Pioneer managed to climb them all successfully. The engine, which can be disconnected from the
wheels when required for ordinary purposes, was used for driving the Californian pump of the Mannum
Dock. Another smaller engine belonging to Captain Randell is now being used for that purpose.'

STATIONS and DISTANCES From WENTWORTH to BOURKE From the Wentworth Telegraph January 1882
Wentworth 0
Tapio T.C. Brooke 40
Avoca Cudmore 42
Para J. Hope 93
Burtundy J. Arnaud 109
Middle Yards J. Arnaud 118
Malara J.T. Gibson & Co. 188
Tarcoola M. Darchy 191
Pooncaira Township 200
Polia Pile 240
Moorara Barritt & Wreford 257
Cuthero (Anabranch)J. Pile 309
Tolarno W.L. & R. Reid 360
Netley J. Dunne 365
Bothinga W.L. & R. Reid 411
Kinchega H.B. Hughes 419
Menindie Township 439
Pamamara H.B. Hughes 469
Albermarle J & J Phelps 481
Weinteriga W. Duffield 547
Tintinallogy Staughton Bros. 564
Bililla Kelly 624
Culpaulla McRae 644
Wilcannia Township 694
Mount Murchison R. Smith & Co. 703
Mautee Ayre 721
Cultowa Suttors 826
Neyambo Campbell 865
Walloo Ryan 868
Mavoa Field & Newland 894
Tankarooka Mongovian 899
Buckambie Mockbridge & Co. 918
Kallara McMeikan 944
Murray’s McMeikan 979
Combad McMeikan 984
Winbar McMeikan & Co. 1032
Dunlop McMeikan & Co. 1044
Louth Township 1064
Warrego Junction Township 1109
Toorale Wilson 1113
Gundabooka J.T. Smith 1130
Fort Bourke J.T. Smith 1163
Yanda J.T. Smith 1166
Nulta J.T. Smith 1185
Jandra J.T. Smith 1204
O’Shanassy C. Guinness 1216
Bourke Township 1227

Stephen Gilbert's Diary - fascinating reading!

Stephen W. Gilbert was born at Camden NSW in 1845 and at the age of 3, travelled by bullock team with his parents, along the Murray and finally settled at Finnis where his father farmed and did some blacksmithing. The following are extracts from Stephens diary, when he was working on the paddle boats, 1870 to and including some of 1873.

Left Goolwa late July 1870, to Wentworth, Mallee Cliffs, Euston, Murrumbidgee River
25th August. Wagga Wagga - Set up cargo on shore and a local auctioneer attempted to sell the goods; not very enthusiastic about the job and a relatively poor turnout of buyers.
Narrandera by September 1st. Back down the river to McNeal’s Station and spent about 3 days ferrying about 6000 sheep across the river.
Further downstream ferried sheep across the river for about 3 days.
Then at Hay, spent nearly a day washing down the decks of the steamer which were covered in sheep shit 6” deep. Spent about 4 days at Hay waiting for passengers to arrive.
Back upstream, loaded wool, then downstream and transshipped wool to the P.S. Maranoa.
Lay at Redbank for a few days waiting for wool to arrive and cutting wood (about 30 ton) for the steamer.
Back up to Narrandera, which was nearly under water (1870 flood)
Oct 4th left downstream for Echuca. Collected other wool along the way at various stations.
8th Oct passed Hay and on to Maude by sundown. Purchased meat and 2 passengers came on board, one ill. Little dry land to be seen. Had some trouble with the barge hitting the bank and trees. Had to transship wool bales to the steamer and then back to the barge (‘Miriam’) to get underweigh again.
Balranald by 12th Oct.
13th Oct, the steamer ran out of the river and became stuck. Took 6 hours to get her off.
Into the Murray on 13th Oct. Still loading wool at stations along the way but having trouble finding space on the barge and the steamer.
15th Oct. The sick passenger died. Still taking on wool bales and moving those on board around to make room.
16th Oct - offloaded about 40 bales wool, too many on board
17th Oct - Tooleybuc and then more wood on board before entering the Swan Hill Flats at about 3pm, arriving Swan Hill 1am 18th Oct. (**This an average speed of about 3 - 4 miles an hour)
18th Oct. Dead man still on board and steamer above Swan Hill.
22nd Oct - arrived Echuca and discharging wool all day.
Finished discharging wool on Oct 26th and took in cargo for the Murrumbidgee, to depart the following morning.
By November 3rd, back at Hay, Miriam barge in tow. Left the barge above Hay and continued on to Cuba to take on wool (340 bales)
9th Oct - back down to the Miriam and transshipped the wool to the barge. Downriver ... took on 5 passengers and more wool here and there and some more passengers .. 10 in all.
November 14th - loading wool, barge listing and dropped about 100 bales in the river. Recovered about 42 bales, and then fished a few more out of the river, eventually about 54 retrieved. The cook on a drinking binge, fell in the river and nearly drowned.
17th Nov. at Hay. The Barwon (barge) snagged and sank in the river with 260 bales wool.
Nov. 18th Davidson went to Hay to report the sunken barge and returned 19th.
Took a sample of the wool and left downstream in the steamer.
Nov 21st at Maude. Took in 5 ton wood. Broke the towline during the afternoon
22nd Nov. Ran out of wood and had to go out in the dinghy and cut some. Balranald 5pm - received mail and a paper. Further down loading wool and cutting wood.
Nov 24th - passed Tooleybuc 8am. 11am at woodpile and 18 tons loaded.
25th Nov - arrived Swan Hill 2am. 2 passengers and customs clearance.
26th Nov - cutting wood, twice then took in 10 tons at Taylors woodpile.
28th Nov - arrived Echuca
29th - 2’ water in engine room as firemen had gone ashore drinking and left the taps open. Cook drunk as well.
30th Nov - discharging wool
Dec 1st - taking in cargo
Dec 2nd - taking in cargo. Ran down below the pontoon bridge and tied up for the night.
Dec 3rd - started early, took on 17 ton wood. 6 ton wood further downstream
Dec 5th - Swan Hill - discharged cargo.
Dec 6th - 4am departed Swan Hill, through Flats by 8 am and woodpile at 12noon
Dec 7th - entered the Murrumbidgee about daylight, Balranald by sundown (**82 miles) Discharged cargo, received a letter, departed just after sunset and run through the night.
Dec 8th - arrived Maude midnight, took in 10 ton wood
Dec 9th - Back at the Barwon barge, afloat, 9pm at Hay. River dropping fast.
Dec 10th - discharging cargo all day. Left barge and a man at Hay and started upstream at about dark
Dec 11th (Sunday) Day off.
Dec 12th - took in 10 ton wood, another 7 tons in afternoon. Stopped at 10pm. Complaining about the food, mutton and bad bread.
Dec 13th - discharged 6 tons flour, took in 10 casks fat and 21 bales sheep skins. Discharged more cargo later. Ran aground and had to heave off with capstan. Stopped about 10pm because of bad snags.
Dec 14th arrived Cuba and loaded about 300 bales wool for Echuca (6am to 7pm) Still complaining about the food and mosquitoes.
Dec 15th - started downstream for Echuca... Took on another 8 bales wool, then another 3 bales. 6 tons wood loaded during afternoon. River dropping fast.
Dec 16th - 4am start, 22 more bales on board. At a wool washing plant by sundown, had tea and loaded 49 bales.
Dec 17th - 13 tons wood loaded, Hay 10am, posted letter and received 2. 5pm started again, with barge in tow. 353 bales on the barge and 360 on the steamer.
Dec 18th (Sunday) Lay to for the day. Hot and mosquitoes by the thousands.
Dec 19th - 230 bales loaded and started again at 3pm. Ran the barge aground and took about 4 hours to get her off.
Dec 20th - Miriam barge taking some water. (May be towing the Barwon as well)
Dec 21st - 12 noon at Balranald and then down to Canally Station, still grumbling about the food, mutton and bread and tea. Transferred wood from the Barwon barge to the steamer.
Dec 22nd - Left the Barwon barge at the Murrumbidgee Junction. Wakool Junction at 9.30pm Dec 23rd - Fire alarm during the night. 5am start, Toolebuc by 7am. 14” of water in hold of Miriam and pumps started. Ran her aground and took off 200 bales. Found the leak and stopped it.
Dec 24th - cut boatload of wood, started at daylight, took on wood from woodpile, 9pm - arrived Swan Hill
Dec 25th (Sunday), received 2 letters - steamed all day and the night.
Dec 27th - arrived Echuca 10am
Dec 28th & 29th - general work about the steamer, discharging the wool. Cook on spree so no food.
Dec 30th & 31st - painting the boat
Jan 1 & 2 - Less hectic, cook still drunk so crew doing the cooking
Jan 3 - Painting, one of crew drunk and wanting to fight everybody.
Jan 4th - departed Echuca for home (Goolwa) Took in 15 tons wood. 7 passengers and 2 in steerage for Adelaide. Stopped at 10.20pm
Jan 5th - Early start. One of passengers took a fit. Swan Hill at sunset and discharged 10 ton flour.
Jan 6th - departed early.
3 tons wood, and then a further 25 tons Collected the Barwon barge and strapped her alongside. Jan 7th 6am - Euston, pm - picked up a chap from the bank who was lost and completely surrounded by water. Midnight at McFarlanes Reef and stopped for the night.
Jan 8th (Sunday) stopped for the day.
Jan 9th - 2am start, 36 bales loaded at 6am, 4 tons wood at 10am, Wentworth at 4pm and departed just on dark
Jan 10th - Anabranch - 6 tons wood, 7pm - a further 12 tons wood, 11.30am - S.A. border.
Jan 11th - 8.30pm - Blanchetown, departed 9.30pm
Jan 12th - 7am - Mannum, Wellington 1pm, 2pm into the lake and dropped both barges astern. 7pm - Arrived Goolwa, “Home at last”
Jan 13th - clearing out the barge
Jan 14th - Settled up with the skipper (after a row)
Jan 16th - Went to see Capt Johnstone (Johnston) about a job
Jan 17th - Shipped on board the “Albury”
Mar 1st 1871 - Arrived at Goolwa from the Darling with 800 bales wool on the P.S. “Albury” and barges “Barwon” and “Mitta Mitta” (6 weeks and 1 day out)
Mar 4th - paid for the last trip ... #7/11/10
Mar 13th - departed Milang, probably on the “Albury” again. Away for 1 month & 24 days
April 29th - payment from Captain Johnstone of #9/10/0
May 11th - shipped on the P.S. “Wentworth”
May 12th - departed Goolwa for Wagga Wagga with flour & salt.
May 19 - arrived at wentworth.
May 20th - transshipping to P.S. “Goolwa”
May 22 - departed Wentworth for Wagga Wagga
May 25th - At Euston 4pm
and into the Murrumbidgee at 6pm.
May 26th - Arrived Balranald 7pm and departed 8pm
May 29th - passed Maude at sundown
May 30th - Wooded up at Benduck Station. Arrived at Hay 3pm discharged 10 tons flour.
May 31st - departed Hay 5pm
June 1 - Burrabogie Station ... trade poor
June 3 - Darlington Point am, 12 noon at Cuba, 5pm at Tubbo, 9pm at Dales
June 4 - McNeals
June 5 - Discharging barge at McNeals. Narrandera at sunset
June 11 - Laying to at Wagga
June 12 - departed Wagga 10am. Stuck on sand at 2pm. Off at 5pm, cutting wood ‘til 9pm
June 13 - All hands on shore cutting wood
June 14 - all hands cutting wood
June 16 - barge wheel carried away
July 1 - Arrived Blanchetown

July 20 1871 - Shipped on the P.S. “Wentworth”
July 25th - departed Goolwa
July 26 - 9am - Mannum .. departed 11am
July 27 - Blanchetwon at 4am departed 7am
July 21 - Wentworth at 11pm
Aug 1 - 2pm - departed Wentworth
Aug 2 - Mallee Cliffs Station
Aug 3 - 2pm arrived Euston
Aug 4 - Canally Station at 9pm
Aug 5 - Balranald at dinner time
Aug 6 - Felmongers above Balranald - laying to
Aug 8 - Hay at 12pm
Aug 10 - departed Hay at 7am
Aug 12 - Kerarbury, Cuba at 11.30pm
Aug 14 - transshipped cargo from barge to steamer. Gilbert was left to care-take the barge whilst the steamer continued upstream.

Oct 3 - At Echuca and made some purchases

Nov 24 - At Hay

Feb 5 1872 - Shipped on the P.S. “Providence”
Feb 16 - departed Goolwa for Bourke Took on wood at Clayton
Feb 17 - At Mannum 1am, 10 tons flour, departed 4am 9pm - Blanchetown, 240 bags flour, wood, bran & pollard
Feb 19 - 6am - departed Blanchetown
Mar 13 - Bourke after tough trip
Mar 16 - departed Bourke for Goolwa - stuck on rocks
Mar 18 - On rocks again, rudder struck, swung the wheel and hurt the skipper.
Mar 19 - got down to where the Wentworth was stuck hard on rocks. Tried to get her off but eventually gave up. Put “Providence” in deep water to wait for a fresh.
Mar 21 - Assisting to shore up the “Wentworth”. Steamer “Vesta” came down the river and the crew of the “Providence” were given the chance to travel downriver on her. Stephen Gilbert among the ones that departed.
Mar 22 - departed on the “Vesta”
Mar 27 - departed Wilcannia, Stephen now cook
Mar 31 - Lay to below Menindie
April 5 - Arrived and departed Wentworth
April 8 - At Blanchetown
April 9 - Milang. Walked home.

**Research note - This is probably the trip that the Providence, stuck up the Darling for several months, blew up at Kinchega on her way down. Stephen was lucky he wasn't on board.

June15 1872- shipped on board the P.S. “Culgoa”
June 19 - Departed Goolwa , arrived Milang 12 noon.
June 21 - departed Milang 6.30am
July 1 - Arrived Wentworth 12 noon
July 2 - departed Wentworth 2am, for Wagga
July 5 - Arrived Euston 7pm
July 6 - departed Euston 8am
July 7 - Lay to at Meilman Station
July 8 - entered Murrumbidgee 4pm. Come to and cut wood
July 9 - Canally Station 5pm Discharged 5 tons cargo
July 10 - Balranald 4pm
July 11 - Departed Balranald at daybreak
July 12 - Red Bank at 9am
July 13 - Nap Nap at 12 noon Maude at 7pm, landed cargo and lay to
July 14 - discharging cargo all day (Sunday) ...
July 16 - Arrived Hay 5pm
July 17 - Discharging cargo all day
July 18 - Discharging cargo all day.
July 19 - departed Hay at 6pm. Left the barge at Hay with caretaker on board
July 20 - 5am start, Burrabogie at nightfall, came to at midnight.
July 21 - lay to all day
July 22 - Groongal at 9am Clarks 10pm
July 28 - 6 miles short of Wagga
July 29 - Wagga at 10am
July 31 - departed Wagga 8am
Aug 1 - departed Ruds, Gelebah at 6pm, took in 10 tons flour for Jacky Daws.
Aug 8 - Left for Mannum - Stephen Gilbert left at Hay with the barge - which he cursed.
Aug 9 - P.S. “Albury” and “Miriam” barge at Hay
Aug 10 - P.S. “Tyro” arrived from Goolwa with full cargo for Hay
Aug 12 - P.S. Alfred arrived Hay from Echuca with barge
Aug 13 - P.S. Pearl arrived Hay with barge full of cargo P.S. Alfred departed Hay upriver
Aug 14 - P.S. Enterprise arrived Hay from Wagga
Aug 15 - P.S. Pearl departed Hay for Groongal
Aug 18 - P.S. Enterprise departed Hay for Wagga
Aug 19 - P.S. Tyro still at Hay, P.S. Victoria arrived Hay from Wagga
Aug 20 - P.S. Victoria departed Hay, P.S. Pearl arrived Hay from Groongal, P.S. Jolly Miller arrived Hay from Goolwa
Aug 21 - P.S. Pearl departed Hay for Echuca, P.S. Tyro departed Hay for Groongal, P.S. Jolly Miller laying to at Hay
Aug 22 - P.S. Jolly Miller departed Hay upriver
Aug 24 - P.S. Murrumbidgee arrived Hay from Echuca (Capt Bowers)
Aug 26 - P.S. Lady Daly arrived Hay from Echuca
Aug 27 - P.S. Maranoa arrived Hay, P.S. Murrumbidgee departed Hay
Aug 28 - P.S. Maranoa departed Hay for Wagga. P.S. Lady Daly loading wool at Hay
Aug 31 - Lady Daly still at Hay - delayed by rain - couldn’t load cargo.
Sept 2 - Lady Daly taking on remainder of wool. Departed Hay for Echuca 5am
Sept 3 - P.S. Tyro arrived Hay from Groongal and departed for Echuca
Sept 7 - P.S. Victoria arrived Hay from Echuca, P.S. Corowa arrived Hay from Echuca, P.S. Alfred arrived Hay from Tubbo. P.S. Culgoa arrived Hay.
Sept 9 - P.S. Culgoa discharging cargo.
Sept 10 - P.S. Culgoa, including Stephen Gilbert & barge, departed Hay
Sept 13 - P.S. Culgoa left the barge at Tubbo, Stephen & Ted Cremer caretaking
Sept 16 - Stephen preparing the barge for wool
Sept 21 - P.S. Culogoa & barge departed Tubbo (300 bales on barge)

July 29 1873 - Shipped on the P.S. Albury at Goolwa at #6 per month
July 31 - departed Goolwa for Port Adelaide.
Aug 2 -P.S. Albury arrived Port Adelaide
Aug 5 - P.S. Albury departed Port Adelaide
Aug 6 - P.S. Albury arrived Goolwa
Aug 12 - P.S. Albury departed Goolwa for Bourke
Aug 16 - P.S. Albury - lost a little girl overboard below Paringa Station.
Sept 9 - P.S. Albury arrived Fort Bourke
Sept 15 - P.S. Albury departed Bourke for Goolwa
Oct 6 - P.S. Albury arrived Goolwa
Oct 15 - P.S. Albury departed Goolwa for Bourke
Oct 23 - P.S. Albury arrived Wentworth 2am, departed 5am for Upper Darling.

The October PBN will contain a synopsis of the Collins family's life on the rivers