Paddle Steamer, Echuca, Victoria (upper deck)

Alexander Arbuthnot 2
I didn't get a photo of the whole ship so I'll have to use one from Wikipedia Commons

Paddle Steamer Alexander Arbuthnot, Echuca Paddlesteamers. Photos from July 2019

The Alexander Arbuthnot is the last paddle steamer built as a working boat on the Murray River, Australia. The ship was built by the Arbuthnot Sawmill at Koondrook, in 1916, as a barge, and named after the sawmill's founder. She was fitted with an engine and superstructure in 1923. The engine was built by Ruston & Hornsby of England and was once used in an earlier boat called The Glimpse.

Her normal schedule was to tow two outrigger barges upstream from the mill, with two men to each barge. She would drop them off at a landing where the barges would be loaded with logs and then floated, unaided by the steamer, downstream back to the mill. Meanwhile, PS Alexander Arbuthnot would return to the mill, collect another barge and ply downstream to Campbell’s Island where she would await the loading of the barge and tow it back. Each barge was capable of transporting about 300 tons for red gum logs.
Echuca Paddlesteamers

Read morePaddle Steamer, Echuca, Victoria (upper deck)

Paddle Steamer Gem, Pioneer Settlement, Swan Hill

From the information panel just before going aboard,  the Gem was built in 1876 as a barge, but a year later "was fitted with’4 40 horsepower steam engine, wood fired boilers and upper works enabling her to be employed carrying freight and passengers on the River Murray as a steamer.

In 1882, she was "cut in half using simple hand tools and the two pieces dragged apart by bullocks. A new 12 metre section was inserted in the space and an extra deck was added to allow more room for both passengers and cargo."

"In service, her lower deck was used for cargo storage; engine room, dining room and galley. Passenger accommodation was located on the middle deck, while the top deck was used for the wheelhouse and to accommodate the crew. The Gem also had a Smoking Room at the rear of the upper deck for gentlemen and a Music Room for the ladies at the front of the middle deck."

Exterior photos.

Go aboard!

Lower deck

Middle deck: cabin, music saloon

Upper deck

Lower deck, P.S. Gem

Larger image

Lower deck on P.S. Gem, at the Swan River Pioneer Settlement.

From information panel on post:

Following her conversion from barge to paddle steamer in 1877, this space would have been filled with the large, wood fired boiler which provided the steam for the engine. That was linked directly to the paddles through shafts either side. As can be seen in the photograph, the wood used as fuel took up a great deal of space here too. In 1891/92 that original engines was supplemented with a second set of pistons, increasing both power and efficiency.

To Middle Deck.

To Middle Deck


Upper Deck, P.S. Gem

Upper deck on P.S. Gem, at the Swan River Pioneer Settlement.


The nature of river travel on the ever changing Murray River required that the Captain have good visibility in order to guide his vessel through the pitfalls of snags, changing river levels and sand bars. From his perch high up in the wheelhouse the captain could pilot his boat secure in the knowledge that he had the best possible view--even if the foredeck was piled high with cargo. The broad decks fore and aft of the wheelhouse and accommodation on this level were also favourite spots for passengers. Overhead frames could be fitted with canvas shades on hot sunny days.


The original Murray River charts were individually sketched by each captain based on his knowledge and experience in navigating the river. He would use India ink on cotton or linen materials and would map out features and topography for the appropriate length of the river. The map would then be rolled up like a scroll and unrolled as the boat progressed along different parts of the river. Survey bench marks, islands, snags and buildings would be added to the map by the Captain in order to assist in navigation. This section of a map shows part of the River Murray between Swan Hill and Boundary Bend; approximately 85 river miles (140 kilometres) downriver.

Down to Middle Deck

Down to Middle Deck.

Middle Deck, P.S. Gem

iddle deck on P.S. Gem, at the Swan River Pioneer Settlement.

From panel:
As part of the process of converting the PS Gem to an Art Gallery, all of the dividing bulkheads between the cabins along this row were removed. This gave a single large space which could be used for exhibitions. However, like the dividers in an egg box, the bulkheads also served a structural purpose and their removal meant that this deck of the vessel was largely open causing the vessel to change shape.

As "Queen of the Murray", the Gem was expected to provide a level of luxury beyond that of the "ordinary' boat. One of the elements of luxury which passengers could experience on the Gem was in the row of bathrooms and toilet facilities on either side of the main passenger deck.

Although the water wasn't plumbed, crew members would bring buckets of hot water up from the boiler room and passengers | could luxuriate in a hot bath.
It was, however, still the Murray River water and, given that the toilets simply emptied straight out into the river, as did every other paddle steamer using it, there was no guarantee of the water’s cleanliness.

To upper deck

Into Music Saloon

Into cabin

To Upper deck

To Lower deck

Bridge of HMAS Brisbane

Larger version

This area was dark, so there are two sets of photos, the first withut the flash and the second with. (Or you could head over to the Australian War Memorial website and check out the Google Street Maps version.

From the information panel:

After decades of service with the RAN and having seen action in the both the Vietnam and First Gulf Wars, HMAS Brisbane was decommissioned in 2001. In 2005 it was sunk off the Queensland coat and is now a dive site. Before the sinking, Brisbane's bridge was removed and brought to the Memorial. The bridge appears here in its Gulf War configuration

Type: Charles F. Adams Class guided-missile destroyer
Launched: 5 May 1966

There is also a "key" panel but it didn't photograph very well. However, I can't find it anywhere else so I've put it at the end.

From the entrance, face left and then clockwise/to the right.

From the entrance, face left and then clockwise/to the right.

MV Cartela

This is an old post with small photos. I have better photos now but more pressing things to work on, so if you're interested, comment below and I'll push it to the top of the "To Do" list.


Cartela was built in 1912, as a steam powered passenger and cargo ferry, operating on the Derwent River and surrounding waterways. There's not many passengers vessels from that era still in existence, and far fewer that have seen continuous service.


Read moreMV Cartela

HMB Endeavour, 2012

These photos were taken when I was doing a stint of tour guiding on board. I took photos during the quiet times. I also did this in 2007 and added my guide "spiel". So that one has better words and this one has better photos.

HMB Endeavour, replica of an 18th century collier converted to a navy ship filled with scientists.


Today's post is an overview of the ship as you'd encounter it on a visit. The attention to detail is incredible: clothing & blanket are hand sewn, hand woven, from the original places where possible; letters are on handmade paper, hand copied from originals; all the ship's measurements are as accurate as they could make them. She might be a secondary source, at best, but a fascinating source.

Once onboard, there are about ten positions (depending on how many guides are available) each with a guide who'll tell you something about that part of the ship. If it's very busy, each group should only be at each position for 2 minutes. At quieter times "they should be through in an hour, unless they want to stay longer and talk".


So you go onboard here.

Then up to the foredeck, where I've still managed not to be stationed, so you'll have to make do with just images.


Although I will draw your attention to the flag.

Read moreHMB Endeavour, 2012

HMB Endeavour, 2007

These photos were taken when I was doing a stint of tour guiding on board. I took photos during the quiet times and then wrote up my "spiel" as Live Journal post (which is what I've shared below). The camera was a small one a friend gave me after mine broke, so the photos are small/low resolution. The 2012 post has better photos. And yes,  a squirrel appears in some. It has escaped from here.

Endeavour (launched 1993) is a replica of James Cook's ship, originally built as a collier but convert to an exploration vessel by the Royal Navy in 1768. The modern ship was built to be as close as the original as possible so there are some interesting features such as the lack of headroom as a result of adding extra accommodation for navy officers and scientists.

Just before you go aboard, have a look towards the stern.

Stern carvings
Endeavour has no figurehead, but some lovely stern carvings. Unfortunately, there's a fence across the wharf so you can't be behind to see all of them. This is the side window of the great cabin.

Towards foredeck
On board, the first stop is the foredeck. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to spend any time here so I don't know the talk.

Read moreHMB Endeavour, 2007

James Craig, Barque

This is an old post with small photos. I have better photos now but more pressing things to work on, so if you're interested, comment below and I'll push it to the top of the "To Do" list.

James Craig aka Clan McLeod, iron barque, built 1874, and used for general cargo. In the 1920s, she was sent off to end her days as coal hulk in Recherche Bay, although soon after that she was abandoned and beached. There's a photo from that period on the Sydney Heritage Fleet website, along with more information. She was rescued in 1972, restored and then relaunched in 1997, and now lives in Sydney when they're not visiting other ports.

These photos were taken at the 2005 Wooden Boat Festival in 2005 (obviously an ocean-going ship). These are my first "sailing ship" photos so there's not as many as usual 🙂 and I can't remember many of the details, so most of them don't have captions unless I can tell what they are from the photo. Also, the camera doesn't like dark-hulled ships.

"Fo'c'sle Deck" the sign says.

Read moreJames Craig, Barque

Polly Woodside, Barque

Polly Woodside aka Rona
Iron barque, built 1885 in Belfast.
647 tons, 192 feet long, max speed 14 knots.

A trading ship, coal mostly, from the end of the era of sail, although she remained in use to the 1920s, when she was converted to a coal hulk.

Original Photos
Under sail
Under sail, from a different angle
"Three masted barque about to be broken up on the rocks."
"On Her Way To The Seclusion Of Hulkland"
Before restoration


We're going to start at the bow, walk down the starboard side, then back along the port side. Then we'll go below, have a look at the hold and then the aft accommodation.

Bow sprit

Read morePolly Woodside, Barque


This is an old post with small photos. I have better photos but more pressing things to work on, so if you're interested, comment below and I'll push it to the top of the "To Do" list.

Replica 16th century Dutch ship


Duyfken is a replica of a small ship sent by the Dutch East India Company to explore beyond the known. In 1606 they charted the Cape York Peninsula (the big, pointy bit in the top, right corner) on the first recorded voyage by Europeans to the Great South Land.

Read moreDuyfken

Music Saloon, P.S. Gem

Music Saloon on P.S. Gem, at the Swan River Pioneer Settlement.
From information panel on door:

The Music Saloon was added in 1982 to cater to the needs of the increasing number of passengers who travelled on cruises and holidays and wanted somewhere on the boat where they could entertain themselves. It was fitted out with a piano and passengers would play and sing old favourites, hymns and popular songs of the period. In the summer the windows could be opened to provide cooling ventilation and in the evening they could be closed to keep the chill, and the relentless mosquitoes, out. The Music Saloon would have been a very pleasant place to spend a chilly afternoon behind the glass which wraps around three sides.

Leaving saloon

Paddle Steamer Cabin

Larger image

Cabin on P.S. Gem, at the Swan River Pioneer Settlement.

From information panel:

For all her luxurious fittings elsewhere, the cabins on the Gem were simple and straightforward, if not a little on the small size. It was joked that cabins were kept deliberately small in order to reduce the number of mosquitoes that had to be killed before settling down for the night. Not all passengers had even this level of comfort in their accommodation; deck passengers essentially purchased only standing room on the passenger deck. They would have to find their own berth for the night, usually an uncomfortable one, lying on the deck cargo of wool bales. barrels or crates. At least the crew had folding bunks!

Back to Middle Deck