Historic riverboat recognised nationally
By GRAHAM BROADHEAD firstname.lastname@example.org
THE bottle of champagne was out, but Marelle Lee, of Lennox Head, wasn't going to crack the bubbly across the bow of the historic river vessel MV Florrie at Ballina yesterday in case it damaged the old girl of the Richmond River.
It was a token sip of champagne that marked the launch of the 1880-built Florrie's voyage this week onto the Australian Register of Historic Vessels, which is co-ordinated by the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney.
Ms Lee, who is a member of the Florrie committee formed in 2000, said the listing of the retired riverboat on the national register 'provides wider recognition of its significance as one of the earliest surviving northern NSW river trading and passenger steamers'.
She said the registration would also help with applications for grants aimed at preserving the vessel.
About 165 vessels, including HMAS Vampire, 1983 America's Cup winner Australia II and the former Sydney ferry Lady Denman are included on the list.
David Payne, curator of the register, said the Florrie's 20-metre long hull was a 'very rare example' of a particular riverboat hull shape.
The Florrie was launched at Blackwall on Brisbane Waters and retired in Ballina in 1975. Last year, Ballina Shire Council moved her to the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum.