Outback Pioneers is pleased to announce that the long-awaited salvage of the Pride of the Murray paddlewheeler will happen this week.
Maritime Safety Queensland will create an exclusion zone around the salvage site from 4 September to 10 September to protect both the boating public and salvors while works are underway.
After the paddlewheeler sank at its mooring in the early hours of 6 March, the Kinnon family, founders and owners of Outback Pioneers, have been looking forward to the official go-ahead to begin salvage operations.
The salvage plan outlines a multi-faceted operation including the use of inflation bags, winches and pumps. Specialist divers will be involved to install slings and winch lines. The complete operation could take up to five days.
Richard Kinnon said they cannot be sure exactly when she will emerge and be safely secured on the bank.
“There are so many stages to be completed for safety, environmental protection and to protect the integrity of the boat,” Mr Kinnon said.
“That means the refloat day could vary by quite a few days depending on the challenges that emerge as the operation progresses.”
In the meantime, the site is still an investigation site for the authorities and there will be no public access until they have completed their inspections of the raised boat. The cause of the sinking will not be confirmed until they make their reports.
Richard Kinnon is hoping to have the Pride of the Murray restored in time for her centenary in 2024 but the extent of the work needed will become clearer once she is out of the water.
Assuming all goes to plan with the lift this week, the Kinnons will launch a fundraising campaign to help with the costs of restoration.
The Pride of the Murray was bought by Richard 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.