Ada barge needs fixing but with what money?

June 14, 2017

Ada barge at Moama slipway. Photo by Luke Hemer.

ECHUCA’S Ada barge is in desperate need of restoration — but no plans are in place to fix it.

The Campaspe Shire asset, is located at the Moama Slipway as an interpretive static display.

Ada’s state of disrepair attracted the eyes of visiting Bacchus Marsh man Ian Giles, who posted photos of the dilapidated barge on the ‘Murray River Paddleboats’ Facebook group.

Visiting family in the region, Ian said he loved the Murray River and thought that Ada was an important part of the town’s history.

‘‘I’d love to see her restored and she’s definitely significant to the community in Echuca,’’ he said.

‘‘The response online as well as most of the people I have talked to indicates people care about the state of the Ada.’’

Echuca Historical Society’s president Dot Hammond said the historical society would like to see Ada restored but understood that a specific grant would be needed.

‘‘It will take a huge amount of money and effort to have this work done; maybe crowd funding is the answer,’’ she said.

‘‘Someone thought it should be taken from the river to preserve it; however well intentioned, this is not what should have happened as boats need to be kept hydrated — once they become dried out the planking opens up and it becomes harder to restore them.’’

The barge was built in Echuca in 1899 and was used to carry wool from station properties on the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers to the Port of Echuca towed behind the PS Pevensey.

The Ada was purchased by Port of Echuca in 1974.

In August 2012, the 52 tonne barge was lifted with the aid of a crane across two days to the rear of the Moama Slipway, costing the council $33,000.

At the time, Moama slipway owner Robert Symons said the Ada needed to be moved as the high river level had meant he could not get boats high enough up the slipway to do repairs.

Campaspe Shire’s economic and community development general manager Keith Oberin said the Ada was moved in 2012, with no intention of restoring it, away from the waters edge where it was at risk.

‘‘At the time of the relocation, council was advised that the condition of the Ada barge was poor,’’ he said.

‘‘In 2012, the Port of Echuca shipwright indicated costs for restoration would be significant.

‘‘The frame is a steel frame, it is buckled and requires significant restoration works prior to undertaking any hull works.

‘‘No funds are available, nor plans in place, to restore the Ada barge and no assessment has been done regarding works required.’’

Mr Oberin said council was currently undertaking works to restore the D26 barge as a working barge with total works expected to cost $87,000.

‘‘The D26 barge has a close affiliation with the PS Adelaide and was in a suitable condition for restoration with limited funds available,’’ he said.

Focused on sealing the hull this year, there will be further funding provided to replace the decking and to paint the barge in next year’s budget.

—Jessica Lamb

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