History of the Paddlesteamer

For a more detailed overview, see our Timeline Page.


"THE GOLDEN CITY", Paddle Steamer.

The Evening Post, Monday, January 12, 1885. p. 2

Another new and capacious steamboat will shortly be laid on the stocks by Mr T. Gill, for use on Lake Wendouree. A medal has just been completed by Mr C. Brooks, the builder, on the lines of which the new steamboat will be built. Her length will be 52 feet with 9 1/2 feet beam, while her floor and bearings will give her large carrying power. This addition to the steamboat fleet of Wendouree will be afloat and in readiness before next season, and afford further accomodation to the increasing multitude which year after year throng this delightful place of resort.


The Golden City Paddlesteamer, launched on the 16th June, 1885 by Thomas Gill is the sole survivor of a fleet of pleasure craft that sailed Lake Wendouree from the 1860's onwards. The Gill family continued to operate the Golden City on Lake Wendouree for the next 81 years until 1946, when it changed local ownership to Messrs. Roy McRae and J. McArthur. In 1966 the paddlesteamer was sold and transferred to Melbourne.

For the next 21 years the paddlesteamer under the ownership of the Spooner family, carried thousands of pleasure seekers around the Caribbean Gardens at Scoresby. During its time there the boat was re-powered, (with another petrol engine) and in 1973 the hull was completely restored and fibreglassed.

In 1981 the canopy was also fibreglassed. In 1987 the paddlesteamer was returned to Lake Wendouree. Ownership was transferred to the Golden City Paddle Steamer Museum Society Inc., which with the assistance of the Ballarat City Council was able to purchase Thomas Gill's boatshed, the original home of the Paddlesteamer.

The Museum, established in 1998 provides visitors with displays depicting the history of the Lake from the time of its use as a camping site by the Kulin Tribe and the arrival of cousins Archibald and William Yuille to its development as the central recreational facility for Ballarat.

It is an interpretative facility serving as a lasting reminder of the rich history of family, sporting and recreational life associated with Lake Wendouree. The Lake's unique fauna and flora is also featured. The Lake's boating history focuses on the early paddle steamers, sea scouts, yachting, rowing, fishing and the Olympics. The Museum comprises dioramas, murals, audio visuals, soundscapes and display cabinets. It provides a range of educational experiences relating to Lake Wendouree that will appeal to people of all ages.