WAITING GAME: The Swan Bay-built Starship Sydney prepares to go under the Woodburn bridge as bushfire smoke filled the skies. T
WAITING GAME: The Swan Bay-built Starship Sydney prepares to go under the Woodburn bridge as bushfire smoke filled the skies. T

$8m cruise ship gets star billing

By JAMIE BROWN

THE York Marine-built Starship Sydney is designed to carry 600 passengers, enough to hold all of Woodburn.

Yesterday, as the 43-metre harbour cruise ship prepared to make its way under the Woodburn bridge, the town's entire population knew all about it.

"She's an impressive thing," mused Neil Lollback the evening before. "I wouldn't mind it myself for a bit of crabbing."

Terry Bale enjoyed the spectacle, saying it reminded him of his Woodburn school days, when his class would go to the river to witness the launching of a new trawler coming out of George Everson's yard.

Getting the Starship under Woodburn's 8.5-metre high bridge is no easy task, however. The first attempt yesterday, just before 6am, was literally touch and go, with a top awning strut bumping the bridge. A second attempt 90 minutes later was abandoned and the ship backed off to wait until this morning.

More than 1000 tonnes of water were pumped into a dozen compartments, and into hundreds of hollow plastic roadside barriers, as ballast to lower the ship by more than half-a-metre.

The harbour cruiser is the result of 18 months' work at the Swan Bay shipyard, under the watchful gaze of Ken Newport, and occasionally his father-in-law, Bob York.

Since 1959, the shipyard has crafted more than 50 boats, with brothers Bob and Bill York creating something of a family dynasty of which Woodburn is proud. Ken has been involved with the family business for many years and now owns the operation.

Final port of call for the $8 million craft will be Sydney, where it will work as a floating convention centre. Showing off new cars will be its speciality, with a hydraulic lift carrying creations from below decks to the showroom.



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