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PS Tarella

Vessel Number: HV000695
Date: 1897
Vessel Dimensions: 30.48 m × 6.1 m × 0.91 m (100 ft × 20 ft × 3 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
PS TARELLA is a composite construction paddle steamer built in Milang South Australia by A.H. Landseer in 1897. It was specifically built to accommodate passengers along with space for cargo, in contrast to many paddle steamers where passenger accommodation was an afterthought and cargo was the primary role. Later owners were Gem Navigation Company in 1919 and the Government of South Australia in 1922. Paddle steamers opened up communications and trade for people settling onto stations and towns along the Murray darling River system and were the primary means of transport. When road and rail networks began to be established they initially worked together but soon paddle steamers were in competition with the other means of transport. PS TARELLA is a rare surviving example of the many craft that had varying roles in their lifetime on the river system.
DescriptionPS TARELLA was built and operated first by AH Landseer, a well-known name in the early years of the paddle steamers. It was built at his slipway in Milang on Lake Alexandrina at the bottom end of the Murray River, and is similar in design and layout to PS MARION (HV000446), which was built the year before by Landseer but launched as a barge. It was not until later that MARION was converted to a passenger steamer. Both craft have a similar length and the same construction methods. PS TARELLA was named after Tarella station in NSW.

PS TARELLA was built specifically for the Darling trade 1897, with a capacity for up to 20 passengers. It was an early vessel to be lit by electricity which was making a significant improvement to the standards for accommodation and navigation along the river. The hull was planked in red gum on the bottom and steel plating on the topsides above the waterline, with steel frames. It was 30 metres long, 6 metres wide with 915mm draft and was powered by a direct acting high pressure engine giving 30HP that was bedded down on steel girders. The bolier came from Cockran & Co. of Birkenhead, England and was tested to about twice its operating pressure.

It went to work on the river in 1897 but by 1918 PS TARELLA had changed its role, and with its deckhouses changed from the passenger carrying days it carried wool and wheat from the Darling, Murrumbidgee & Murray Rivers to Goolwa SA. In 1919 it was owned by the Gem Navigation Company one of the primary companies operating paddle steamers on the Murray Darling system. In 1922 it was sold to the South Australian Government, Lands Department and converted again to be used extensively for construction of channel spurs, lock and weirs as well as field and official trips.

In 1947 it was put up for sale by public tender as a going vessel and bought by Murray Shipping Ltd in 1948. It was then decommissioned, the machinery was removed and the paddlewheels used on P.S Marion. The hull and superstructure were sold to private owners and PS TARELLA was towed by P.S GEM to what became a permanent mooring about 5kms upstream from Mannum SA. It passed through other private hands three times, but during what became 66 years lying idle in shallow waters the hull deteriorated with the planking gradually rotting away below the waterline.

In 2005 an IT professional turned boat builder took on the challenge of restoring the hundred-foot steamer and the vessel is now located at the Mannum Boat Haven and Slipway.

“It got to the point that if someone didn’t do something it was going to be beyond it,” he said. “She was used as a shack from when she was put where she was in 1948 and over time had become more and more shack and less boat.”

It took eight months of planning, 30 people, 16 water pumps and countless rags stuffed into every crack in the hull to lift it off the river bed so it could be floated down to Mannum. The new owner is working toward having the hull back in the water as soon as practical so that he and his team can start working on the machinery and building two new paddle wheels. Eventually he intends to run PS TARELLA on the Murray-Darling again, hearkening back to his childhood; “the river gets in your blood” he says.

There are two detailed references to its launching: The Adelaide Observer 16/10/1897 pg 29 -

"On Tuesday 12th Oct. Mr. A.H.Landseer launched his new steamer "Tarella". It was christened by Miss Hilda Landseer and named after Messrs Quin,, Currie & Co's station in NSW. It is of composite build, steel frames, galvanised steel topsides 3/16" thickness and 3" S.Aust Red Gum bottom. The frames are 16" apart and 10" steel combings are riveted to the frames on 3" angle steel from the strong top girder. There are 3 keelsons fore and aft. The vessel is particularly strong though of light draft. Length 100'0" overall Beam 20'0" Depth 7'6" …… To be used for the river trade."
Western Grazier (Wilcannia, NSW Sat 19 Nov 1898 Pg.2 -

“The Steamer Tarella – the following description of the Tarella is taken from the Federal Standard”

“The Tarella is one of the finest and strongest boats now on the river. She was built at Milang to the order of Mr A.H.Landseer, at a cost of 4000pounds. Her dimensions are: Length 100’, beam 20’6”, depth of hold 6’6”, composed of steel and wood composite, driven by a 30HP direct acting horizontal engine on a draught of 3’. She is built on the latest model for cargo and passenger service on the river; her displacement is 96tons, she has medium speed, and is a splendid towing boat. There is ample accommodation for 16 passengers, the berths, both double and single, are constructed on the latest sanitary principles and are fitted with sprung mattress and every little convenience for the comfort of passengers; each berth is provided with a set of life preservers. It is the intention of the owners to further enhance the vessel by fitting her with electric light throughout. Both upper and lower decks are guarded by strong pipe rails and netting. A hot and cold water bath is also provided on the second deck. In addition to being strongly constructed, she is very easy to handle and very light on fuel, burning about 6 tons per day. The boiler was specially constructed for her, having all the latest improvements. She is allowed a boiler pressure of 140lbs., but is tested to 280lbs. A remarkable feature in the construction of her boiler is that it consists of only two plates of steel. The Tarella left for Wilcannia on the late rise, but was unable to reach here from insufficiency of water.”

Vessel Details
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:timber planked
Current status:non-operational
Deck layout:multiple decks
Deck material and construction:timber planked
Hull material and construction:steel
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:flat bottom
Hull shape:monohull
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:transom rudder
Motor propulsion:paddle steamerpaddle wheelerPSsternwheeler
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:wheel
Alternate Numbers

Lloyds number: 89443

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