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GROWER on the Yarra River, Melbourne in 2012


Vessel Number: HV000557
Date: 1924
Vessel Dimensions: 14.24 m (46.72 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
GROWER is a small, well-deck ferry built in 1924 at the Beattie yard on the NSW central coast for the local fruit and vegetable growing cooperative. It has strong regional association with Brisbane Waters where it worked for 20 years. In 2012 it retains its original configuration, and after nearly 90 years continuous work still operates as a ferry, but is now based on the Yarra River in Victoria.
DescriptionGROWER was built at Gordon Beattie’s shipyard on Brisbane Water and launched in September 1924. The New Zealand kauri carvel planked well-deck ferry is 14.24 m long, and was built for the Kincumber Growers Ltd, a producers’ cooperative arrangement in the region. It serviced a route between Woy Woy and Kincumber Creek, stopping at various wharves en-route. It worked in conjunction with the KIN-GRO built by the same yard in 1927, and now called LITHGOW (HV000373).

When the ferry company closed in 1944 GROWER went to Sydney Harbour and continued working there and on Pittwater north of Sydney. Initially it was owned by SG White and Co and operated as a workboat, then it went back to a passneger ferry for the Pittwater and Western Shores Cooperative. In 1978 it was bought by Bob Walton and Harry Major and went to work on Middle Harbour as the BALMORAL BELLE, based out of the well-known Waltons Boatshed. It was licensed to carry 40 passnegers.

In 1986 it was bought by Clarence River Ferries and undertook an arduous trip up the coast to the river, taking 58 hours until it crossed the bar at the entrance . Renamed GROWER it began working a short route between Iluka and Yamba, and proved very popular with the local residents, providing a regular connection between the two townships.

GROWER found a new location in 2002 when the current owners bought the vessel. It went south (by truck) to work as a tourist ferry on the Yarra River in Melbourne and is currently powered by a Perkins diesel engine. It remains in excellent condition as a rare example of the many similar well-deck ferries that once operated in many places around Australia.

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:displacement
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:overhanging stem
Hull shape:plumb stemvertical stem
Hull shape:round bottom
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:keel hung rudder
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:launch deadwood
Motor propulsion:diesel
Motor propulsion:inboard
Motor propulsion:motor vesselMV
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:wheel
ship:ships:Byzantine ships:ships:wheelhouse
Additional Titles

Primary title: Grower

Previous title: Balmoral Belle

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