100-year-old paddlewheeler rescued by specialist towing operator

Less than a year after making the 1700-kilometre road trip to its new home, this historic 100-year-old paddlewheeler sank to the bottom of the river.

The Pride of the Murray was transported across three states in June 2022, to its new home at the Thomson River.

It was a very delicate move, with Freightlancer tasked with transporting the vessel aboard a 26-metre long trailer, from Victoria to Longreach in Queensland’s outback.

The paddlewheeler was purchased by tourism operator Outback Pioneers to be restored and used as a tourist attraction, but sank in March this year, with the cause remaining unknown.

Clayton’s Towing was last month tasked with bringing the paddle wheeler back to the surface – and has this week shared photos of the rescue mission.

The company has been in operation for 53 years and now operates across 16 locations, with a large fleet that consists of 90 licenced tow trucks, 12 low loaders, off road recovery equipment, excavators, a recovery boat and more.

A convoy of Clayton’s Towing trucks and low loaders travelled to Longreach, transporting excavators and all the necessary equipment needed for the recovery.

“Baldwin Boats, who had played a pivotal role in the original transport of the paddle steamer to Longreach, reached out to Clayton’s for assistance. Together, the two companies crafted a comprehensive recovery plan,” revealed Clayton’s Towing.

“The crew from Abco Diving also joined our team for their skills in correctly setting up rigging under challenging conditions of mud and water with zero visibility. Over the course of a week, access was cleared to the front of the boat and established the necessary winching equipment and rigging.”

The company continued, “There were significant concerns and risks regarding the boat’s structural integrity during the operation. Nevertheless, despite the expected challenges, the recovery turned out to be a resounding success.”

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