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The first 100 bookings will receive a special Pride of the Murray tribute gift

Be aboard when the Pride of the Murray sails the outback!

Your chance to be part of riverboat history

Two iconic stories will merge in June 2022 when the 100-year old paddlewheeler, the Pride of the Murray, joins Outback Pioneers to cruise the Thomson River in Longreach.

After an incredible 1750 kilometre overland journey from Echuca, the Pride of the Murray will become the jewel of the Thomson for Outback Pioneers famous Starlight’s Cruise Experience.

The inaugural cruise of the Pride of the Murray on the Thomson will be 25 June 2022.

Outback Pioneers original sunset cruise has become a bucket-list experience for outback travellers and this bigger paddlewheeler will allow more guests to enjoy it in comfort. From 25 June 2022, the Pride of the Murray will be the signature vessel for our Monday to Saturday evening cruises.

guests standing at the bough of the riverboat

The first 100 bookings will receive a special Pride of the Murray tribute gift

You can book for the maiden voyage on 25 June or any available date in the 2022 season and, if you’re one of the first 100 bookings, you’ll qualify for a memento of this grand old lady of pioneer history.

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The historic boat​

The Pride of the Murray, which originally transported wool bales in Victoria, will now have a new home in the heart of wool country in Longreach, telling the stories of pioneer life.

Built in 1924, as a barge to tow behind other boats with 80-100 tons of wool aboard, the Pride of the Murray later had an engine added to transport timber to the mill at Echuca. 

When she was no longer needed for timber duties, the Pride of the Murray was sunk in her namesake river. Beneath the water, she was well preserved and, in 1973, Captain Maxwell Carrington decided she was worth restoring. He purchased the boat for $100. After removing 250 tons of silt, she was refloated and repaired at the Moama slip. Most of the hull planks were replaced and two additional decks were added. The wheel was relocated from the forward main deck to the upper deck to make space for passenger seating.

In 1977, the revitalised diesel-electric passenger boat was relaunched from Echuca Wharf and began her new life as a tourist vessel. She has been loved by generations of visitors, and many special events have been held aboard. 

She was originally named after the PS Pride of the Murray, a stern-wheeler paddle steamer built by Johnston and Davies at Echuca in 1865.

Wool barges at wharf in Echuca, early 1900s

The historic 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 of Outback Pioneers 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!

  • Specialist removal by Freightlancer
  • 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.

“It’s going to be a beautiful story to tell and for people to be part of. It’s all Australians’ story. I want to conserve that history.”

Richard Kinnon, Outback Pioneers

Highlights of the Starlight's Cruise Experience

  • Be part of pioneer riverboat history on an unforgettable evening cruise on the Thomson River
  • Enjoy the famous outback sunset with spectacular photo opportunities
  • Settle around the traditional campfire for a hearty, two-course stockman’s dinner under the stars
  • Laugh, cry and be inspired by Scotty the Barefoot Bush Poet – a living outback treasure
  • Gather in the riverbank auditorium for the Starlight’s Spectacular Sound & Light Picture Show about local, larrikin hero Captain Starlight
  • Finish the evening with billy tea and damper beneath the Southern Cross.

“Not only is our region getting another piece of Australia’s exciting heritage, it will give another 100 travellers a day the opportunity to really experience the beauty our region has to offer.

Cr Tony Rayner, Longreach Mayor

Book your experience

The details

  • Free transfers to and from Longreach town accommodation are included.
  • Pick-up from accommodation is from 4.45pm and return at around 9.15pm.
  • Departures are Monday to Saturday from April to October.
  • BYO alcohol. Soft drinks available.
  • Outback winter evenings can get cool so bring a jacket.

The Starlight’s Cruise Experience is just one of the Outback Pioneers experiences you’ll love while you’re in Longreach. See the website for more ideas.

Bookings on the Pride of the Murray are available from 25 June 2022.

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