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Vessel Number: HV000198
Date: 1875
Previous Owner: Dick Broomhead ,
Vessel Dimensions: 23.77 m x 10.67 m x 0.61 m, 68.9 tonnes (78 ft x 35 ft x 2 ft, 70 tons)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
AMPHIBIOUS is significant as a working vessel with a remarkably long and varied career associated with the rivers and open waters of South Australia. Built in Melbourne in 1875 it was first used as a general cargo vessel on the Murray River, then as a trading ketch in the waters of South Australia, then as a showboat on the Port River in Adelaide. It is now back on the Murray River as a charter cruising vessel.

In parallel with its varied working life AMPHIBIOUS has also had varied technological configurations which have enabled its survival. It has operated under steam power, then under sail only, before oil engines were installed. Today it is a paddle wheeler.
DescriptionAMPHIBIOUS was built in 1875 by Bevan and Cooke at the Britannia Iron Works in Latrobe St, Melbourne, and launched under the name AMPHIBIOUS. The wooden hull was 18.3m long and 4.9m wide.

It had an unusual propulsion method which enabled it to operate in shallow water. A pair of double acting 15kw (20 hp) steam engines drove twin propellers that acted like paddle wheels - only the blade tips touched the water as they turned.

The vessel went to work on the Murray River and changed owners on three occasions up to 1900; the fourth owner lengthened the hull to 23m in 1901.

In 1904 it was sold and taken to Port Adelaide and converted to sail for use as a trading ketch. AMPHIBIOUS operated in open water around the gulfs of South Australia until 1956 when two 4-cylinder kerosene engines were installed.

In 1959 new owners rebuilt AMPHIBIOUS as an entertainment showboat with a full length deckhouse. It operated on the Port River at Adelaide until 1971 and was then laid up. It sank in 1978 but was salvaged by paddle steamer enthusiast Dick Broomhead, who brought it back to the Murray River. In 1990 he rebuilt it as a paddleboat. In 1999 a new owner purchased the boat and rebuilt the craft to operate from Akuna station as a luxury passsenger cruising vessel along the Murray. It was then known as AKUNA AMPHIBIOUS.

The hull remains in the lengthened 1901 structural configuration, with planking and internal structure replaced where required. The deck and superstructure have had many changes, and the current cruising arrangement was built in early 2000.

The vessel has had a starring role in two productions, Peter Weir's film 'Gallipoli' in 1981 and the TV series 'The River Kings' in the early 1990s.

The many configurations and uses of AMPHIBIOUS have allowed it to survive. It has now come back to work on the Murray River more than 130 years after it was launched.

Prepared with assistance from the Register of Australian and New Zealand Ships and Boats compiled by Mori Flapan;
Vessel Details
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:timber planked
Deck layout:cabin
Deck material and construction:timber planked
Hull material and construction:carvelcarvel-planked
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:monohull
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:transom rudder
Motor propulsion:diesel
Propeller:side wheel
Spar material:iron/steel
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:wheel
Deck material and construction:other
Spar material:other
Additional Titles

Primary title: Amphibious

Previous title: Akuna Amphibious

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