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Pride of the Murray community reaction

Only memories left: The Pride of the Murray began it’s journey to Longreach on Monday, May 23. Photo by Vivienne Duck

As the community reminisces over the Pride of the Murray, Queensland tourism company Outback Pioneers has announced her new home as the Thomson River, near Longreach.

More than 40 people, a 26m long and 8.7m wide trailer, 700hp prime mover, police escort and nerves of steel were needed to lift the 100-year old vessel out of the Murray River and place it onto a mega trailer for transport.

Outback Pioneer’s Richard Kinnon said the 1700km journey was believed to be the largest haulage of a marine vessel this age to be undertaken in the southern hemisphere.

“It’s an extremely delicate operation. The maximum speed of travel is 80km per hour and the route has been specifically chosen because it’s straight and has less obstructions.”

Mr Kinnon said the Pride of the Murray would still be enjoyed by tourists and history lovers.

“When I found out the Pride of the Murray was looking for a new home, I knew I’d found a genuine outback pioneering artefact that we just had to preserve,’’ Mr Kinnon said.

The vessel will be restored in Longreach over the coming months and it is hoped it will be operational soon.

“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 incentive for me and the Kinnon family is millions of tourists will get to enjoy riding the Pride of the Murray on the Thomson River for another 100 years.”

Murray River Paddlesteamers owner Craig Burgess said the Pride of the Murray would be missed by their staff and by the community.

“It is always sad to see boats leaving the river, however, this is all a part of our long-term strategic plan,” he said.

“We will have more to say about this very soon which will be exciting news for the whole region.”

Echuca-Moama residents took to social media this week to share their reactions about the loss of one of the town’s icons.

Leith Hall said that although it’s a shame to be losing such an “endemic vessel,” the tourism market for riverboats had changed.

“Local sentiment is that there are too many boats competing for the daily cruise market,” he said.

“Sometimes one door closes and another opens. The Canberra and her mates further up will hopefully be kept busy with the daily trade now.”

Monique Webby said that seeing as it was a privately owned boat, the owners had the right to choose where they wanted it to be and what they wanted to do with it.

“Owners of this beautiful boat should be able to do what they like. I am assuming up-keeping costs are high,” Ms Webby said.

Sherril Francis said she once went to Longreach and did a cruise on the Thomson River, where the Pride of the Murray’s new home is.

“The Pride of the Murray couldn’t be in better hands as this company is very passionate about Australian history,” she said.