REGION – Paddle steamer Oscar W is usually docked at the Goolwa Wharf, but she ventured up to Waikerie for a four-day mission of towing the Murray River Queen from Waikerie to Renmark on a four-day mission.
Starting on Saturday, August 12, PS Oscar W with 11 crew on board started the significant tow, taking on a job she was built for.
It was a remarkable sight, as the PS Oscar W weighs around 83 tonnes, compared to the Queen’s robust 670 tonnes. But the smaller boat is a workhorse and was made specifically for towing.
In 1931, the Oscar W, towing the ‘Cowina’ barge, brought 2280 bales of wool out of the Darling River in one load.
Skippered by EJ Thorp, he said the trip was a “little bit of history repeating”.
“In 1962, Oscar towed the much larger PS Gem from Mildura to Swan Hill, and they expected the tow to take six weeks,” he said.
“In fact, Oscar was gone for nine months, as the river level fell and both boats were stranded at ‘The Bitch and Pups’ reef until fresh water came down the river. That’s the river – anything can happen.”
The Queen did get stuck for about an hour as the water was a bit shallow, but was soon on her way again.
The vessels had to go through the locks one at a time, as they were too big to do so together. Once both were through, the tow had to continue, as the Queen was not able to navigate on the river under her own power.
The Queen is slated to become a floating restaurant and attraction at Renmark wharf.