A paddle wheeler from Victoria is being given another lease of life as it finds a new home in Queensland.
The Pride of the Murray carried its first lot of passengers at its new home in Longreach, Queensland on June 25, as part of the tourism services offered by Outback Pioneers.
It followed a week-long, 1750km trip with the 100-tonne boat towed by road on the back of a 26-metre long trailer.
Now cruising in the Thompson River, the boat is now located right in the middle of wool country - Longreach was once known as the 'Wool Capital of the World' and 'Centre of the Golden Fleece'.
Originally named C24, it was built in 1924 by Murray River Sawmills as a barge to tow behind other boats with 80-100 tons of wool aboard, the Pride of the Murray later had an engine added to transport timber to the mill at Echuca.
Originally named C24, she was built 1924 by Murray River Sawmills and started as an outrigger barge, and was used to help build a bridge at Barmah.
When its working life had ended, the boat was left on the Victorian side of the river.
In 1973, Max Carrington dug it out from the riverbed sediment and transported it to the Moama slip where he began restoring it. Most of the hull planks were replaced, two additional decks were added, and the wheel was relocated from the forward main deck to the upper deck to make space for passenger seating. In 1977, the now diesel-electric passenger boat was relaunched from Echuca Wharf and began her new life as a tourist vessel.
Its new name took reference from the Pride of the Murray, a paddle steamer that sank at Echuca in 1866.
The boat was last leased by Murray River Paddlesteamers at Echuca since 1996, before Outback Pioneers bought it.
The boat was transported by trailer in early June and took a week. Before the boat was winched from the water the wheelhouse was removed because of height restrictions and placed on a separate truck to be transported to Longreach.
The remainder of the boat was then winched out of the water and laid across large inflatable bags before being placed on stands with the 26 metre trailer then backed in underneath it and the boat gently lowered down.
Warrick Corney of Freightlancer, who was commissioned to coordinate the logistics of the move, said as it's an old wooden boat, it needed to be kept wet during the trip and be back in the water within seven days at the most.
"Before it came out of the water, we used old techniques and lined the inside of the hull with wet hessian sacks."
Reflecting on the moving process, Outback Pioneers co-owner Richard Kinnon said the weight of the haulage meant the team had to drive very slowly and were only permitted to drive during daylight hours.
"In some towns we had to jack up the trailer to get over guard rails and local councils were very accommodating removing street signs and the like along the way to make the trip easier," he said.
Richard is proud that the boat can keep going.
"I've always been passionate about educating people about Australia's proud pioneering history. The Pride of the Murray enables us to give people a very authentic experience and that's we the Kinnon family is all about. The biggest incentive for me is that millions of tourists will get to enjoy riding the Pride of the Murray on the Thomson River for another 100 years," he said.
"The Pride of the Murray has a very proud Australian history. Although her history might not be connected to Queensland, her future certainly will be.
"Saving, protecting and conserving boats like the Pride of the Murray is our story. We saved a grand old dame of Australia's marine outback history that our visitors can now relive on magnificent Thomson River.
"Tourism is the only opportunity left to maintain these boats in a viable industry and we are more than willing to take on the responsibility of maintaining and preserving this important part of our heritage.
"Everyone who steps aboard will feel that history and we will share the stories of the Pride of the Murray while we continue to breathe new life onto this 100-year-old boat who we hope, thanks to this move, will live out another century in Australia's outback."
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