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Steam Tug Wattle returns to the water

30 Sep 2015

Steam Tug Wattle returns to the water Image

Historic Steam Tug Wattle returned to the water last month after six years of restoration in Docklands.

As Docklands News went to print on September 30, the 82-year-old boat was being relaunched into the Yarra River by two of Melbourne’s largest mobile cranes.

The two cranes lifted the 132 tonne tugboat from its restoration site at 19 South Wharf and placed it onto a special mobile platform.

The boat was then transported under the Bolte Bridge to a nearby stable wharf at 24 South Wharf, where the boat was gradually lowered in to the Yarra River, while Bay Steamer Maritime Museum volunteers checked that the restored hull was watertight.

The historic ship is returning to operation and is one of the last compound steam engine tugboats in the world.

Launched in Sydney in 1933, during the great depression, the Wattle is the first tugboat to have been completely designed and made in Australia.

Steam Tug Wattle served with the Royal Australian Navy until she was decommissioned in the 1960s and retired from towing duties in 1970. She was then converted to steam charter and tourism duties and the Bay Steamers Maritime Museum brought her to Melbourne in 1978.

Since 2009 the Wattle has been under restoration in Docklands by a team of volunteers from the Bay Steamers Maritime Museum.

The restoration was funded by Sorrento Steam, a group of businessmen interested in preserving Australian maritime history, along with individuals and businesses that donated materials and equipment.

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