History making trip passes through Cobar

Navigating the right hand turn onto Louth Road off the Barrier Highway took some expert driving for the Freightlancer driver towing the Pride of the Murray through Cobar last week. It was however done successfully and the crew reportedly then had a dream run on to Bourke as part of their 1,750km trip from Echuca in Victoria to Longreach in Queensland.

Cobar residents got to witness the largest haulage of a marine vessel ever undertaken in the Southern Hemisphere last Thursday when the Pride of the Murray passed through town.
The 100 tonne, 100 year old paddlesteamer was making an epic 1,750km journey from Echuca in Victoria on its way to Longreach in Queensland.
The massive undertaking required more than 40 people, a 26-metre long and 8.7 metre wide trailer, a 700-horsepower prime mover, police escort and nerves of steel to lift the 100-year old paddlewheeler out of the Murray River and get her ready for the long road trip.
The trip was organised by tourism entrepre-neur, Richard Kinnon of the Longreach-based Outback Pioneers.
“Everyone thinks I’m mad,” Mr Kinnon said.
“To build a purpose-built boat from scratch would have been a significantly cheaper option but it didn’t meet my own brief which is for our Longreach-based tourism operation to remain true to history.
“When I found out the Pride of the Murray was looking for a new home, I knew I’d found a genuine outback pioneering artefact we just had to preserve.
“The only problem – this perfect piece of Australian history is giant and 1,750 kilome-tres from Longreach.”
Another hurdle for the Outback Pioneer’s haulage team was the age and construction of the vessel, it can only be out of the water for a maximum of seven days before the timber begins to shrink, so timing was crucial.
Warrick Corney of Freightlancer was tasked with co-ordinating the logistics of the move and it’s something that has kept him awake at night for the past four months. “It might sound easy but it is a massive un-dertaking,” Mr Corney said.
“This is not a move that has ever been at-tempted before in Australia.”
Mr Corney said as the Kinnon’s have that true pioneering spirit in spades and were dedi-cated to conserving history and so they did everything “to make the impossible, possible”.
The route they chose to take from Echuca to Longreach (through Cobar) was quite straight and provided less obstructions for the mega road train.
“The trailer itself is massive.
“The trailer alone is rated at 192 tonne and the entire rig has 106 tyres under it to soften the pressure on the road,” Mr Corney ex-plained.

The trailer is 8.7 metres wide and some bridges it had to travel over were not that wide, and so it had to be lifted higher for parts of the journey to ensure it didn’t hit guard rails.
“It’s big machinery but a delicate operation, so the maximum speed of travel is 80km/hour, Mr Corney said.
It was also tall and so they needed two pilots leading a police escort and staff from three power companies (of the three states they passed through) travelling with them to lift up any low power lines they needed to negotiate.
Due to its size, the convoy could only travel during daylight hours, and so it made over-night stops in regional towns along the way.
Mr Corney said because it’s an old wooden boat it also needed to be kept wet during the trip.
Mr Kinnon admits it was a stressful journey but it was worth it in the end.
He said his incentive was that millions of tourists would get to enjoy riding the Pride of the Murray on the Thomson River for another 100 years.
It’s hoped the Pride of the Murray will be in operation later this month.