HISTORY

Built by Bottrill Shipyards in Melbourne in 1942 for the Australian Armed Forces. A thousand of these boats were built for service in the Pacific Islands and Papua New Guinea, specified to carry 10 tons of cargo or a platoon (20 soldiers) with equipment. After hostilities ceased the boat was used by the Australian Customs Service in New South Wales for 30 years and subsequently worked as a tow boat on the Hawkesbury River. In 1998 the boat was purchased by a boat enthusiast who sailed her to Melbourne where the “Melburnian” was totally refurbished to its luxury standard as a charter boat on Melbourne’s Yarra River water ways. Length 40′ Draught 4’9″ Engine 6/71 G.M super charged 280 HP Beam 12″6″ Hull – Oregon

THE YARRA RIVER – A NATURAL HISTORY

The headwaters of the Yarra River flow from the pristine flanks of Mt Baw Baw in Victoria’s West Gippsland region. For 242 kilometres the main water course – and 24 tributaries – drain an area of 4060 m2, about half the area of metropolitan Melbourne. On its journey through Melbourne and to Port Phillip, it supplies 9 catchment dams and provides drinking water to about 2.6 million households. The much maligned muddy colour of the Yarra is caused by the easily eroded clay soils of the water catchment. The water was clear at the time of European settlement, but intensive land clearing and development since the mid 1800s has resulted in the presence of microscopic clay particles. The particles are kept suspended by the turbulence in some parts of the middle and lower sections of the river. When the river water combines with marine salts as it enters Port Phillip, the suspended particles clump together and sink. The muddy appearance does not indicate an unclean waterway. In fact, the Yarra is probably one of the cleanest capital city rivers in the world. Since the major clean-up campaigns of the late 1970s and 1980s, the river has again become home to several species of fish and even the occasional dolphin. The Yarra has a tidal range of 2.2 metres. Water craft are able to navigate the river from its mouth, at Williamstown, to the Collingwood Children’s Farm – a distance of about 10 kms.

MODERN DEVELOPMENT

A succession of new low-profile bridges built during the early 20th century increasingly cut-off the traditional port areas. The sight of tall masted vessels berthed alongside the city centre became a rarer sight. Moreover, as ships grew in size, it became more feasible and economic for them to operate downstream where there was more water and cargo handling space. The Melbourne Maritime Museum on Southbank chronicles the development of Melbourne and its port area. With the removal of shipping activity from their immediate gaze, Melburnians took less and less notice of their waterway, including its cleanliness. Apart from the annual Henley on Yarra regatta, (link to Henly on Yarra) the river dropped out of the public consciousness. A major awareness campaign led by The Age newspaper during the early 1980s focussed attention back on the city’s greatest asset. The re-emergence of the lower Yarra became complete during the 1990s when the light industrial area of the south bank rapid transformed into one of Australia’s most exciting tourism and recreation hubs.

  • Melbourne Convention Centre – 1990
  • Southgate Arts & Leisure Complex – 1992
  • Crown Entertainment Complex – 1996
  • Melbourne Exhibition Centre – 1996
  • Melbourne Aquarium – 2001
  • Birrarung Marr – 2002
  • Federation Square – 2002

The transformation of the Lower Yarra River continues unabated, as the State Government and City Council plan the sensitive development of the river’s north bank, especially during the lead-up to the 2006 Commonwealth Games.