Riverboats

 

The first paddle steamer to trade on the Edward River was built for Lachlan McBean on his property, Woorooma Station, near Moulamein in 1878. The objective was to trade between Woorooma and Echuca, and the main cargo was to be Lachlan's wool, which was to be transported to the rail head at Echuca.

A wool clip of at least 1,000 bales, and probably considerably more when one estimates the primitive wool presses in use at that time.

The task of transporting this wool to Echuca by bullock wagon, the only available means at the time, would be enormous. It would involve many journeys, probably about twenty five wagon loads, each taking about a month, which would fully employ two bullock drivers and their teams throughout the year just to transport the wool clip to Echuca, so it is not surprising that Lachlan McBeans thoughts should turn to river transport.

It is interesting to note that the maiden journey commenced at 8.00pm and a stop was made to get wood an hour later. The journey to Woorooma Station and return to Echuca was dogged by teething troubles.

The Goldsborough was built with side paddles, and was a small compact vessel with an overall length of 84 feet, with width of 15 feet and depth of hold 5 feet. The engine was an sixteen horsepower horizontal spur geared two cylinder steam engine, built by Marshall & Sons in England and weighed 81/2 tonnes. Although the Goldsborough was claimed to be the first vessel to trade on the Edward, it was not the first to navigate the river.

In July 1860 Captain Mace took the steamer the Wakool up the Wakool River and entered the Edward River. He found that the Edward was not navigable with his laden vessel so he turned back to Swan Hill to discharge the bulk of the cargo & then returned and entered the Edward a second time.

The Wakool was followed soon afterwards by the Moolgewanke, but kept ahead of that vessel almost up to Moulamein. The Moolgewanke continued upstream from Deniliquin along the narrow upper reaches of the Edward were trees overhung the river and in places the channel was almost choked with snags.

This is probably the reason why steamboat traffic on the Edward, unless the river was cleared, was a losing speculation.