The Pride of the Murray paddlewheeler, which had submerged in the Thomson River six months ago, has undergone a triumphant resurrection, now securely perched upon the riverbank after a substantial salvage operation.
This remarkable feat follows an extensive effort to retrieve the vessel from the river’s depths, stemming from its unfortunate sinking at its mooring mere weeks before the onset of this year’s peak tourist season.
Richard Kinnon, the proprietor of the 99-year-old vessel and the visionary behind Outback Pioneers, affirmed that regardless of the findings in the upcoming inspections, the boat will undergo restoration and find its cherished spot in Longreach.
“She’s an incredible old lady. You could feel her spirit and almost hear her heartbeat as we pulled her out,” Kinnon said.
“I can say for sure she will be restored to tell her stories – not just for outback Queensland but to inspire all of Australia.”
While Kinnon explained that they need all the reports before they can guarantee the boat’s seaworthiness, for those keen to jump aboard the mighty vessel, Kinnon claims that no matter what, they’ll restore it, and it will have a vital role as an Australian icon.
“If it’s humanly possible, she will be back on the water for her centenary in 2024. That’s definitely the plan.” Richard said.
“If for any reason she can’t be re-certified as a passenger vessel, we will still bring her back to life and give her an exciting new role.
“I know she is going to be an outback celebrity as she has such presence, and so many people around the country have been touched by her story.”
Kinnon said a fundraising campaign will be important to get the restoration happening quickly.
“After investing so much in the original restoration, this time we will also need to ask our mates for help to fund this restoration,” he said.
“We will launch a fundraising campaign in a month or so but in the meantime people can donate through our Pride of the Murray website.”
In 2022, the 100-year-old piece of pioneer history made an epic move from its previous home in the Murray River in Victoria to its new home in Longreach in Outback Queensland.
The massive undertaking was the first of its kind at this scale and was the brainchild of Kinnon.
“This is believed to be the largest haulage of a marine vessel this old ever undertaken in the Southern Hemisphere,” Kinnon said at the time.
“When I found out the Pride of the Murray was looking for a new home, I knew I’d found a genuine outback pioneering artefact we just had to preserve.
“The only problem – this perfect piece of Australian history is giant and 1,750 kilometres from Longreach.”
The Pride of the Murray was built in 1924 and was originally used to transport wool bales in Victoria. The vessel later had an engine fitted to transport timber to the mill at Echuca.
It was bought by Kinnon in 2022 to expand the Outback Pioneers Starlight’s Cruise Experience in Longreach. She was transported overland from Echuca, Victoria in what was one of the biggest maritime moves in Australian history.
She was then restored and cruised the Thomson River for a few months before the end of the 2022 tourist season, drawing visitors from around the country. Her sinking in March 2023 was a devastating blow for all who loved her.
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