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PV Rothbury

Vessel Number: HV000502
Date: 1881
Builder: T Lynch
Vessel Dimensions: 24.99 m x 6.71 m (82 ft x 22 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
PV ROTHBURY is a paddle steamer built in 1881 as a tow boat. It remained in commercial operation as a tow boat until 1958, performing almost 8 decades of service in the Murray River region. PV ROTHBURY became known as one of the fastest paddleboats on the Murray River, a title it still retains in 2012, and was involved in many infrastructure projects on the Murray River throughout its working life.
DescriptionPV ROTHBURY was built in 1881 by T Lynch of Gunbower Sawmills at Gunbower, Victoria on the Murray River to be a large and powerful towing paddle steamer, towing barges for wool and logging. After entering the trade it soon became known as one of the fastest tow boats on the river. PV ROTHBURY is 26.82 m (88 feet) long, 5.79m (19 feet) wide at the waterline and 9.7 m (32 feet) wide across the top of the paddles, displacing about 90 tonnes. In 2012 it is licensed to carry 175 passengers. the prefix PV and not PS is recognising the fact that it now uses a diesel engine and not a steam engine.

PV ROTHBURY was brought to Mildura in 1909 by Permewan Wright & Company who had an extensive establishment in Mildura, sharing the district trade with the Chaffey owned company, the second River Murray Navigation Company. In 1911 PV ROTHBURY was bought by R.M. Anderson, the major saw miller in Mildura. PV ROTHBURY supplied the mill with logs from red gum forests nearby for extensive building construction at Mildura. Timber was also towed on barges by PV ROTHBURY and put ashore as stock piles of wood located along the river available for use with the various boilers and other passing steamers. Andersons' Saw Mill was located on the Victorian bank just downstream of the existing Chaffey Bridge, but was destroyed by fire. On the NSW bank opposite is the original Andersons slipway, used for boat repairs since the early 1900's and now owned by the company A.E. & F.O. Pointon.

PV ROTHBURY was later used for towing lock building materials. PV ROTHBURY teamed with the "derrick" barge for construction along the river. The derrick was fitted with a large crane and pile driving equipment, but had no power of its own. PV ROTHBURY towed this barge to its destinations and also provided its power from the PV ROTHBURY boiler. The most recent and significant construction by PV ROTHBURY and the derrick was the Psyche Pumping Station in 1957/58. PV ROTHBURY was still working at its original task until late 1950's, one of the last paddle steamers to do this, and having been in operation for almost 80 years.

PV ROTHBURY lay idle at Mildura from 1958, moored at the Andersons slipway for 10 years until purchased by Captain Alby Pointon in 1968 for restoration and use in the tourism trade. During restoration the 41 kW (55Hp) steam engine and boiler combinations was removed and replaced with a lower maintenance Gardner diesel engine. PV ROTHBURY retains its original wheelhouse and top deck cabins. A bar, galley and dining facilities were fitted over the steam engine compartment.

In 1896 PV ROTHBURY was involved in a famous towing race against the P.S. South Australia on the Darling River at Wilcannia. The race was held over a measured distance with each boat towing another steamer with its paddles lashed, as well as two barges. PV ROTHBURY was well ahead at half way, but ended up losing by only seconds due to a lack of steam caused by the engineer.

It was not until 1988 at Goolwa on Lake Alexandrina, that PV ROTHBURY was to regain the honour in the Bicentennial Great Paddleboat Race, which was held in conjunction with the opening of the Signal Point complex by the Prince and Princess of Wales. A race was held over a straight 2 mile course between PV ROTHBURY, COONAWARRA and IMPULSE from Mildura, MAYFLOWER from Morgan and MURRAY RIVER QUEEN from Goolwa. After an even start it was apparent that PV ROTHBURY with her sleek hull design was truly the "Greyhound of the River" and it went on to win convincingly.

The National Paddleboat Challenge Cup race has since been held in Mildura as PV ROTHBURY holds this honour, and it has won the four subsequent races, with funds raised from the day going to the Mildura Base Hospital.

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
Current status:operational
Deck layout:multiple decks
Deck material and construction:timber planked
Hull material and construction:carvelcarvel-planked
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:flat bottom
Hull shape:monohull
Motor propulsion:diesel
Motor propulsion:paddle steamerpaddle wheelerPSsternwheeler
Propeller:side wheel
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:wheel

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