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Vessel Number: HV000376
Date: 1880s
Vessel Dimensions: 4 m x 1 m (13.12 ft x 3.28 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
POPILTAH is a rivetted-iron, flat-bottomed dinghy built in the late 1880s on the Darling River for service in times of flood. It represents the many craft built and used on the local rivers of inland Australia for this purpose. The construction reveals a typical approach to boatbuilding where local craftsmen used materials and methods familiar to them. In this case the iron comstruction has been patterned on the shape and form of timber boats. The adaptation is quite remarkable. The dinghy remains in original condition and has been repainted.
DescriptionPOPILTAH was originally owned by the Cudmore Brothers who ran Avoca station on the Darling River in the late 1880s. During the 1890 flood it went by water to Popiltah station homestead (at that time within the Avoca boundary), so it is assumed it was built locally in 1890, or perhaps a year or so earlier.

The dinghy is rivetted iron construction with a flat bottom and sides. The plating is 3mm or 3/32 in thick. It has iron thole pins that mirror the typical wooden pins of the period. Its shape is a simple interpretation of the more elegant round bottom timber craft of the harbours on the coast. It features three thwarts and two rowing stations.

At Popiltah station the dinghy was used to transport supplies, stores and shearing staff along the Darling River. In 1920 the Conrick family purchased Popiltah station from the Cudmores, and acquired the boat.

In the 1950 and 1956 floods it was the only means of transport from the homestead. POPILTAH was equipped with a 3 HP Seagull outboard motor and a 12 volt headlamp for after dark. During the floods there were some anxious trips to higher ground on windy days when the boat went to collect the weekly mail and groceries from mail driver Paddy McCoy.

The Conrick family presented POPILTAH to the Wentworth Rotary Museum after they sold their interest in the station, and it is understood the museum gave it the name in honour of the gift. It is on display in the forecourt of the museum building at Wentworth, on the junction of the Murray and Darling rivers.

Vessel Details
Current status:non-operational
Current status:on public display
Current status:outside
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:oar
Hull material and construction:iron
Hull shape:chines
Hull shape:flat bottom
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:plumb stemvertical stem

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