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How did the Pride of the Murray end up on the Thomson

As its name suggests, the Pride of the Murray started its life on the River Murray in Victoria. Built in 1924, she was originally a wool barge. 

After being converted to a paddlewheeler in the 1970s, she was a much loved sight in Echuca offering tourist cruises and a venue for special occasions.

She was put up for sale in 2022 and Richard Kinnon of Outback Pioneers knew she was just the historic vessel he needed to expand the company’s cruises on the Thomson River in Longreach. The only problem was getting her there! 

Aerial view of the Pride of the Murray on the back of a low loader departing Echuca Victoria
Low-loader truck with the Pride of the Murray paddlewheeler loaded on the back

An incredible journey

Moving the Pride of the Murray overland from Echuca to Longreach in May 2022 was the largest overland marine transport operation ever undertaken in Australia. Handling a fragile old lady and navigating her through the backroads of three states was either brave or crazy, or perhaps a bit of both! Richard Kinnon felt passionately that for an authentic pioneer story, he needed a real paddlewheeler and not just a reproduction. He personally travelled to Victoria to oversee her removal from the water and to make sure she was secure for the 1750 kilometre journey to her new home!

Low-loader truck travelling over bridge carrying 100-tonne paddlewheeler

Some of the facts of the journey: 

  • Specialist removal by heavy-haulage transport
  • 700HP prime mover
  • 26 metre long, 192 tonne trailer 
  • The entire rig had 106 tyres to spread the weight 
  • Maximum speed of travel: 80 kph
  • Police escort and power companies to lift power lines on the route 
  • Maximum time out of the water: 7 days, to avoid wood shrinkage.
  • Over 6 million people followed the journey on the TV news and social media.
A map of Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria with a travel route from Echuca to Longreach
Richard Kinnon
The Pride of the Murray cruises the Thomson River

She was fully restored for her new role in Longreach and was launched there in June 2022. For the four remaining months of the 2022 tourist season, she cruised alongside the Thomson Belle at sunset, drawing visitors from around Australia.

Pride of the Murray and Thomson Belle paddlewheelers