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Rare Chance to Train as Steam Engineer on Historic Paddle Steamers

January 31, 2024 9:36 am in by

There is a rare opportunity for six volunteers to receive free training in steam engineering so that they can work on some of the country’s most precious historic paddle steamers.

The Mid Murray and Alexandrina Councils are on the hunt for volunteers to train to become steam engineers to safeguard the future of the historic paddle steamers, the PS Marion, the PS Canally and Goolwa’s PS Oscar W.

Steam engineering is a dying trade – but it’s also essential to ensuring the future of the mighty steamers.

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The PS Marion, based at Mannum, is a fully-restored, heritage vessel built in 1897. It is one of the last operational, heritage, steam-driven, wood-fired, overnight passenger carrying side paddle steamers in the world. It operates regular overnight, day and short cruises.

Engineer, David Broadbent, has been working on the PS Marion since it was recommissioned in 1994. He said it has been a love affair ever since.

“I’m a steam enthusiast… once it gets into your blood, you become addicted to the smell of steam,” he said to ARN’s Adam Connelly and Jennie Lenman this morning.

“I’m over the moon about the history of the river. It is really a love affair and there’s no two ways about it and paddle boats are integral part of that history.”

The PS Canally, is being recommissioned following two years of restoration work. The flat bottom, wooden hull side wheel paddle steamer was originally launched in 1907 to take cargo, passengers and work as a trading boat. It is currently being restored by a dedicated team of volunteers, with plans to relaunch in Morgan 2024.

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The paddle steamer Oscar W was built in 1908 by Franz Oscar Wallin (commonly known as Charlie Wallin) at Echuca. Originally servicing the Murrumbidgee River and Upper Murray trade, the vessel has called Goolwa home since 1942.

How To Apply

Interested volunteers should have a previous engineering or mechanical background, be aged over 18, and be prepared to volunteer on the paddle steamers. The role is also open to anyone who already has the above qualifications or who holds engineer class 1 (steam) or engineer class 2 (steam) qualifications.

The roles will see volunteers join the Council’s Maritime Operations Team for training towards qualifying as steam engineers with a visiting expert from Victoria. They’ll earn their licenses to operate a standard boiler and a reciprocating steam engine, learn about shipboard safety, first aid and complete 100 hours of service on steam vessels.

People looking to apply for the PS Canally and PS Marion, applications close 5pm February 7 2024. Submit a short letter of introduction, including a brief mechanical or engineering history to postbox@mid-murray.sa.gov.au .

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Applications for the PS Oscar W boat close today, 31 January 2024, with interested parties encouaged to submit a short letter of introduction, including mechanical or engineering history to psoscarw@gmail.com.


Hear more from engineer David Broadbent via the audio play window below:

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