A 100-year old paddlewheeler from the Murray River in Victoria is on the road, making a 1700km journey by road to its new home on the Thomson River at Longreach.
The massive undertaking to remove the 100 tonne Pride of the Murray from the river in Echuca in Victoria has been completed, with the road trip north now underway.
Tourism entrepreneur, Richard Kinnon of the Longreach-based Outback Pioneers, said when he heard the Pride of the Murray was looking for a new home, he knew it was a genuine outback pioneering artefact that needed to be preserved.
"This is believed to be the largest haulage of a marine vessel this old ever undertaken in the Southern Hemisphere," Mr Kinnon said.
"To build a purpose-built boat from scratch would have been a significantly cheaper option but it didn't meet my own brief which is for our Longreach-based tourism operation to remain true to history."
One of many challenges for the Outback Pioneer's haulage team is the age and construction of the vessel means it can only be out of the water for a maximum of seven days, before the timber begins to shrink, so timing is crucial.
Also 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 than backed in underneath it and the boat gently lowered down.
"The trailer itself is massive," Mr Kinnon said.
"To give you a visual of the size of it, the trailer alone is rated at 192 tonne and the entire rig has 106 tyres under it to soften the pressure on the road."
The giant trailer is 8.7m wide and some bridges it will travel over are not that wide, it will need to be lifted higher for parts of the journey to ensure it does not hit guard rails.
"It's big machinery but a delicate operation, so the maximum speed of travel is 60km/hour, it is so tall we negotiated to have crews from each electrical company travel with us along the way to lift up power lines as we come through areas where they are low," Mr Kinnon said.
The whole convoy will be supported on its journey by police and pilot vehicles and can only travel during daylight hours, so it has stopped overnight in regional towns along the way, including in Bourke in north west NSW.
The most difficult part of the entire trip is in fact negotiating the last roundabout as they enter Longreach.
Mr Kinnon admits it will be a stressful journey but worth it in the end.
"We are putting a 100-old-year vessel like Noah's Ark on a truck and bringing it to the outback of Australia," he said.
"We're passionate about educating people about Australia's proud pioneering history and once the paddlewheeler is recommissioned, 100 people a day will get to relive an authentic river experience."
The vessel will be restored in Longreach over the coming months and it is hoped it will be operational in June.
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