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PS Melbourne centenary (Mildura, Australia)

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Roderick Smith:
PS Melbourne was built as a government work boat, based at Echuca.
In the early 1960s, I watched it come through Swan Hill, heading for Mildura to become a tourist boat.
I have been aboard on many occasions, and once shared a locking when I was cruising through Mildura on Jessie II.
The centenary is being celebrated at the start of September, and the river is rallying.

The first commitment was from PS Marion, which is extending a survey-slipping voyage to Berri through to Mildura, with a week spent on local cruising in various combinations.  This will be its first voyage to Mildura for over 60 years.
See <>
At this stage, Mannum - Mildura is fully booked.
Only twin share cabins are available, with one cabin available Mildura - Renmark and two cabins available Berri - Mannum.
There are some cabins available for the Mildura - Red Cliffs & return 2 nights 2 days cruise.

PS Ruby will be running in tandem from Wentworth, with a mix of overnight and short cruises.  See

PS Oscar W will be voyaging from Goolwa, over 28.8-26.9, with day sectors.

From the gossip mill: For once, there could be an Echuca presence.  PS Emmylou was willing to commit to a 2001 Mildura voyage (which was prevented by low water), but won't commit this time.
The port is hoping to send a vessel (probably PS Adelaide), subject to council approval.  If it goes, a couple of private steamers will go as a fleet.  There could well be two vessels available for day sectors.  That will be my priority, if it eventuates.  I will have my own boat at Mildura for the celebration week, but will not be voyaging.  I haven't the time to skipper, and it will be too cold in my boat in this season.  I have to work on my magazine on a laptop plugged into 230 V on either a commercial boat, or a friend's boat.

The big fleet of paddleboats based in the Mildura area (from Karadoc to Wentworth) will be out in force.  Many have been slipped over winter for maintenance.  One likely miss: PV Impulse has sunk at its Colignan mooring.  This vessel pioneered the wave of modern construction to traditional styles.  With the river dropping, it had been out in the main channel, and sank in 7 m of water.  It is insured, but river salvage is not available instantly.  When the Canally hull sank at its mooring, it was close to the bank, and could be retrieved by pumping air into grape bins roped to the hull.  Impulse had a composite hull: metal above the waterline, planked below.  This was common in Australia, as wood above the waterline would shrink in fierce sun, and during low-water layovers.  It is speculated that the inferior modern caulking, forced by the green lobby, had proved to be a tempting feed for yabbies (an Australian river crustacean).

As I recommend always,  this is the time to venture half way around the world, and be part of the rare action.

Roderick B Smith
Rail News Victoria Editor

the bombus:
 :c002 :41 :16

enjoy it while you can
gr from The Bombus

Roderick Smith:
I think of the Swiss and Italian lakes as just around the corner from Belgium, also the fleet at Dresden, and some scattered paddlesteamers into northern Germany, and on to Norway, Sweden and Finland.

When I started flying to Europe, most flights were two stop, and 25 h or more.
Now they are down to one stop, and around 21 h.

I did a quick search: the cheapest operator is China Southern, one stop Amsterdam to Melbourne (23 h); two stops Melbourne - Amsterdam (28 h).
You can fly faster, but for more money.

Here are four more photos of PS Melbourne in different eras.
The one at Swan Hill is probably Mon.30.8.65.  Dropping backwards through bridges was standard practice to maintain steerage through a narrow opening in a fast current.

Roderick B Smith
Rail News Victoria Editor

I shall be there for the weekend. I can't do any of the overnight trips but will be going on the Marion, Oscar W and the birthday girl the Melbourne on the Sunday. Yippee!
I shall keep an eye out for you Roderick. for further details on the event. for accommodation and info on Mildura.

Roderick Smith:
Progress news from Mildura: The fleet is expected to have 20 vessels.
Centenarian PS Melbourne.
SA visitors PS Oscar W, PS Marion & PS Industry.
Local boats PS Ruby, PV Rothbury, PV Mundoo.
Most of the boats moored at various places from Wentworth to Colignan, with one steamer being available (PS James Maiden).
Not yet confirmed:
Swan Hill or Echuca boats, and possibly PS Minimus.

Work has been proceeding rapidly on raising PV Impulse, but I don't know if it is fully out of the water yet, and if the damage can be repaired in time.  Two flotation barges were in use: the boat was raised, worked sideways, then lowered again; then the barges were repositioned.  That would be tricky in the current.

Roderick B Smith
Rail News Victoria Editor


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