The Cumberoona is a 25.2 metre long, 6.5 metre wide paddle steamer, originally fired by two 16hp Buffalo Pitt engines manufactured in 1906. The vessel is now dual powered, meaning it can be powered by a diesel electric system or by the original steam boiler engines. This diesel electric conversion took place just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic which allowed us to sustain our business through the COVID-19 lockdowns and enormous economic hit to our tourism business. Since this time daily operations of the vessel are powered by diesel electric in order to sustainably operate the vessel and keep ticket prices family affordable. The P.S. Cumberoona can be converted into a steam driven vessel in just under 2 hours, which occurs for our selected special events throughout the year, and by request for functions such as weddings in keeping this historical landmark alive.
The P.S.Cumberoona is a replica of the paddle steamers which worked their way up and down the mighty Murray in the days when the river was the major link to the trading world. The original paddle steamer Cumberoona launched at Echuca in 1866, was named after the Cumberoona Station on the Upper Murray. Cumberoona is an Aboriginal word that means “Crooked River”.
The vessel was then built by the community as the only Albury Bicentennial project. It was largely funded through the NSW Bicentennial Program and the Federal Ship Building Bounty Program. It also was supported by Albury City’s in-kind assistance, private and company sponsorship and many volunteer hours with a total construction cost of $840,000. Opened by Queen Elizabeth 11 & Prince Phillip. (Images compliments to Border Mail)
It was designed by Sydney marine architect Warrick Hood with construction by Chapple Brothers Engineering.
Since its launch in 1986 and subsequent entering of service on 4 January 1987, the Cumberoona has been operated by volunteers (until 1991), AlburyCity Council (1992-2001) and through a management lease (2001-2007)
There has been no operator since 2007, however the boat last sailed in 2006. River levels during this year were unusually high for a significant period of the year due to drought conditions and downstream irrigation demand. In 2008 river levels were less than 1.9m all year which restricted the movement of the vessel from Noreuil Park.
After assistance from NSW State Water and the removal of ballast from the vessel to reduce the draft, river levels were high enough to relocate the vessel to a slipway on April 2nd 2009.
Over the next 5 years even though hull repairs were undertaken by Albury City Council, the cosmetic appearance of the PS Cumberoona deteriorated substantially. Water leaks in the upper deck of the vessel caused internal decks to rot in places, wasps and rodents made themselves at home, and vandals gained access to the wheel house; stealing the original Wooden wheel
In 2014, Albury City Council failed to attract an operator to lease the vessel and disposed of the vessel via expressions of interest.
On Monday March 2nd 2015, Robbie & Fraser Knowles took possession of the PS Cumberoona and lowered her back into Wodonga Creek from the slipway she had sat in on private property for my years.
The hull repairs were water tight, and a crew of expert steam operators from Echuca and surrounds joined the Knowles boys to relocate the vessel to Yarrawonga for further repairs.
They departed early morning on Tuesday March 3rd, and made it to Howlong by mid afternoon, where the wheelhouse was removed to negotiate the road bridge.
They stopped there for the night to carry out some repairs and rest up before departing again late afternoon on Wednesday March 4th.
The plan was to reach Corowa by night fall, but that didn’t quite happen.
On Thursday March 5th, PS Cumberoona negotiated the bridges in Corowa before reloading with wood at 9am and swiftl departing for Yarrawonga.
She arrived at her new home by that afternoon, and completed a lap of the lake before being parked, awaiting a new life.
The real Aussie spirit was displayed along the Murray River that week, with history proud communities and generations coming out to see her in motion, and lend a hand.
Her return to service and former glory days has made her rich in history and romance. The P.S. Cumberoona is one of the most regions most anticipated and finest attractions for tourists and locals alike.
Did you know the Cumberoona has a sister vessel “The Sienna Daisy”. You can find out more about her here just click on the tab “The Sienna Daisy”