Picture of paddlesteamer circa 2013

Photo of the Golden City circa 2013

View our slideshow from this link.

The Golden City was formally launched on November 7 2013.

Dec 2013

The first paying passengers! December 1 2013.

Picture of first passengers.

The first paying passengers! Charlotte and Georgina Andrew and Sophie Knight. With them is the Ship's Master, Bob and Deckhand, Ron.

Secretary decorating boat with balloons.

Our Treasurer, Sandra Corbett, putting balloons on the boat before the launch.

Committee member Pat Weightman and Victorian Premier, Dr Dennis Napthine.

Committee member Pat Weightman and Victorian Premier, Dr Dennis Napthine.

She's afloat!

May 7 2012

The New Golden City Paddlesteamer was moved onto Lake Wendouree for the first time on Tuesday May 7. Representing a major milestone in what has been a six year journey, the boat was moved from the yard where it has been located and placed on the Lake at Durham Point on Lake Wendouree.

Picture of boat being lowered onto the Lake.

The boat being lowered into the water.

Picture of boat being lowered onto transporter.

The boat being loaded onto the transporter at the yard in Delacombe where it's been worked on over recent years.

Picture of boat on bank of Lake Wendouree.

The boat was lifted by two cranes onto the Lake.

Picture of boat on Lake Wendouree.

A small motor boat acted as a tug to move the Golden City from the launch point to the boatshed. Here the boats are being lashed together.

Picture of George Brookes.

George Brookes, a committee member whose great-grandfather built the original Golden City in 1875. George's remarkable woodworking and other skills have contributed greatly to the quality and finish of the boat, including designing and producing the seats (yet to be fitted) and designing and making most of the ropework around the boat.

Picture of boat in shed.

Where she belongs! The Golden City in the boathouse for the first time. She fitted with good centimetres to spare. Ian Shedden and Barry Burnett doing some lashing.

Launch imminent

May 1 2012

The Golden City Paddlesteamer will be moved to the Lake within the next week. With a significant amount of work still to be completed, the boat is nevertheless ready to be launched. Once on the Lake it will be moved to the boatshed where work will continue. It's still too early to predict when it will begin taking passengers but the launch is a remarkable milestone in a long and arduous process. A small voluntary committee has managed the project since 2006 when the original was destroyed by fire.

The move to the Lake will be conventional, using road transport. No doubt there will be extensive media coverage so keep an eye on the local media for the latest developments.

Launch date rapidly approaching

January 2012

With the deck surfacing now completed, a major working bee is being held in mid-January to attend to many of the smaller tasks that had to wait on the deck. When these are completed the exciting stage of moving the boat onto Lake Wendouree can be scheduled.

Setting a date is a sure way to tempt the fates but don't be surprised if a rather large load traverses Ballarat within the next month or two. There'll be wide media coverage when the event happens so there won't be a rabbit left down a burrow in the district that hasn't heard the good news.

Once launched there'll be further fitting out and fairly extensive tests to satisfy Marine Board requirements to obtain a Marine Certificate of Survey. So it'll be a while until it can take paying passengers.

Finalising the deck

Picture of deck partly sanded.

September/October 2011

After considerable research and consulting with contractors, the Committee decided to undertake the final work on the deck ourselves. This has involved a number of evening sessions to prime and tape the timbers followed by the actual caulking. This will be followed shortly by sanding and sealing. This is the last major job required before the boat can be put on the water after which it will be moved into the shed for more work such as fitting of seats and the canopy.

Deck laying and gunwales

June 18 2011

Following the completion of the fitting of the deck timber the gunwales have been added. These are the timbers that circle the top of the hull to provide a buffer. It was a big job with timber needing to be steamed and bent before being fitted.

The next stage is to sand, caulk and seal the deck, all skilled jobs that will require assistance from experts.

And progress keeps on coming, the more they toil...

April 17 2011

Two more significant milestones were passed in the last month or so. The boat has now been painted and looks very schmick in its red and white outfit. It will look stunning on Lake Wendouree with the sun glinting off the boat and the water sparkling.

On Saturday April 16 another working bee, supported tremendously by the great team from Realistic Kitchens, completed the laying of the stern deck. The whole vessel now has a beautiful timber deck. The finishing work of plugging, sanding, caulking and sealing still has to be completed, but to get to this stage is a real morale boost.

There's still plenty to do but with a clear (and no longer overwhelming) schedule of jobs and renewed enthusiasm, the end is in sight. The thought of once again having a lovely paddlesteamer on Wendouree is firing us all up. We're not yet making bold predictions about when you'll see and hear* the boat on the water but it'll be sooner rather than later. (*Ian S. tested the air horns so we know you'll definitely hear the boat.)

Picture of boat taken April 16 2011.

A wide shot showing the colour scheme.

Picture of gang working on the stern deck.

The mob from Realistic Kitchens near to completing the stern deck. George Brookes (foreground), one of our skilled craftsmen and a stalwart of the committee, built the arches that cover the paddle axles. This allows easy access, including wheelchair access, between bow and stern.

Picture of boat taken April 16 2011.

A good look at the colour scheme. The gaps in the side rails will be filled with a rope netting/mesh arrangement.

Progress comes to those who toil...

January 2011

In an exciting event for those present, the motor was tested on a memorable day in December. It started almost instantly which was very heartening. While the boat is still in the yard and up on supports, the auto-electrician had completed all the wiring of the motor systems and it was important to test the installation. Obviously his work was good!

In another step forward a good hard day was put in on January 3 by volunteers from Realistic Kitchens and the Society to continue the work of laying the timber deck. The bow end is all but complete and good progress has been made on the stern. Probably one more concerted day will see the full deck completed. It's a satisfying and pleasing experience to walk on the timber deck. A commercial firm will be engaged to complete the grouting and finishing of the deck as this is a skilled and critical stage to ensure the longevity of the timber.

Another job that will be undertaken early in the New Year will be painting the hull. This is the last significant job before the vessel can be moved to the Lake and moored in its shed for the final fitting out to occur.

Well, bad news and good news

November 2010

The bad news is that we cancelled our sausage sizzle at Springfest. The good news is that rain caused it and the extremely wet year we are having is significantly contributing to the water level in the Lake. The Yacht Club opened its first season for some years on Sunday and it was wonderful to see a small number of yachts on the Lake after an absence of quite a few years.

After the winter recess, work is about to resume on the boat with the priorities being painting the hull and fitting and finishing the timber deck. Once these jobs are completed the next major milestone will be the return of the boat to the water and into the shed where the final fitting out jobs will be completed.

Publicity Poster for SpringFest

Visit us at Springfest 2010

October 2010

Once again the Society will be providing an opportunity to buy a snag and to talk to us about progress on the boat at Springfest on Sunday October 31. With water rapidly returning to the Lake and the boat well on the way to completion we are looking forward to the big launch in 2011.

You will find us in front of the boathouse just around from View Point, next door to the Boatshed Restaurant. We're pretty friendly and would be delighted to tell you the latest news so feel free to drop in.

Picture of team who fitted the first deck

All hands on deck as Paddlesteamer takes another step forward

December 2009

It was all hands on deck recently as a team of volunteers from Realistic Kitchens donated their time and skills to an important project on the new Golden City paddlesteamer.

This was the fitting of the timber deck.

"Fitting a timber deck is a highly skilled job and the expertise of the tradesmen from Realistic gave us a fantastic result," said Bob Wuestewald, Paddle Steamer Society President.

Assisted by Society volunteers, the crew laid approximately half the deck and will complete the rest in the near future.

"The timber deck will be a lovely feature of the boat which is something Ballarat people will be able to take pride in for generations to come," Bob added.

Great progress on new vessel

Work on the new boat is progressing well. The fitout of the hull is now in full swing with the installation of the engine, the mounting of the paddles and the erection of the canopy support structures.

A shed was located for the boat and this has enabled the work to continue regardless of weather conditions. The following pictures were taken in February 2008.

Picture of the vessel on a truck

The hull being moved from Harwood Engineering (where it was built) to its new shed where fitting out work can begin.

Picture of the vessel in the shed

The boat in its new location ready for fitting out.

Large shed or covered work area needed

The Society requires a storage location for the boat to enable work to continue on fitting out the hull. We anticipate needing the space for up to 12 months. The vessel is 20 metres long by 5 metres wide so the space would need to be large enough to accommodate that plus have generous workspace around it. Security is also a critical issue so the space would need to be able to be secured effectively. If you know of any space that may be suitable, please contact Barry Burnett on 0418 547 111.

April 2008: State Government funds received

The Society was delighted to recently receive the full amount of $100,000 promised by the Victorian Government. Granted soon after the fire, the funds had been held in trust by the City of Ballarat subject to the Society meeting a number of conditions. Having met these, the funds were passed over. This has enabled us to pay the company who have completed work on the hull. The hull is now ready for work to begin on the installation of the engine, drive system and paddles, control systems and all the above deck accoutrements that will go to finishing the boat. The vessel is now almost certain to be completed before the Lake refills. (There is no truth to the rumour that members of the Society have been performing rain dances on the Lake each full moon.)

November 18 2007: Successful Day at Springfest

We had a very successful day at Springfest. Hundreds of sausages were sold as were hundreds of tickets in our Cubby House raffle and the Rotary Club of Ballarat South Car Raffle in which we participate with many other community groups.

Many visitors also took the opportunity to look over the museum and to hear about progress on the new boat.

November 2007: See us at Springfest

Look out for us as Springfest. We'll be selling delicious sausages and cool drinks. It will be your chance to find out the latest on the new boat. We'll also have our Cubby House on display - make a little friend's Christmas complete by winning the raffle for the Cubby House. Call in and see us at Gills' Boatshed, just around from View Point.

November 2007: Boat building progressing well

Picture of the new boat's hull

There has been great progress on the building of the replacement vessel. The hull is nearing completion. Much of the running gear has been acquired and will be fitted in the year future. Here the hull is being rotated. The workman on the left gives a sense of the size of the vessel. A timber deck will be fitted to provide some consistency with the style of the original. There will also be rows of seats, again in a heritage style consistent with the old Golden City.

Pic: George Brookes

February 2007: Contract signed for construction of new boat

In February 2007, a contract was signed with a Ballarat engineering firm to construct a new paddlesteamer to replace the Golden City. The hull will be constructed from aluminium to a design similar (but not identical) to the original vessel. The plans were approved by the Victorian Marine Board and it's expected that construction will begin in mid April 2007. This is a remarkable achievement as the contract was signed less than twelve months after the loss of the original.

By a happy coincidence, it seems likely that the Lake will again have ample water in it when the boat is ready for launching in 2008.

Paddle Steamer Museum Open

Picture of Museum Interior

On Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 October 2006 the Paddle Steamer Museum on Wendouree Parade was open for inspection. Many interested visitors were treated to a small dose of history and went away feeling much improved!

The Museum is not opened on a regular basis but when significant events take place in Ballarat the Museum is opened to let people share in some of the fascinating history of Ballarat's gem and the once rich life of paddlesteamers operating on the lake.

"A Touch of Nostalgia" Photographic Exhibition

On Saturday October 29 2006 between 6.30pm and 9.30pm a photographic exhibition of our past and present was presented by Ballarat photographer, Max Harris. The exhibition was held at the Pipers on Parade Restaurant located near the Ballarat Botanical Gardens on Lake Wendouree. It was well supported with many visitors enjoying this remarkable collection of historic photographs.

Wonderful Funding News

Picture of George Brooks on nearly complete boat

In a fantastic kickstart to our soon to be launched public appeal, the Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks has announced that the State Government of Victoria will donate $100,000, the City of Ballarat $50,000 and the Rotary Club of Ballarat South another $50,000 over two years for the building of a new Golden City Paddle Steamer. The Public Appeal to raise the remaining $100,000 will begin very soon with an official launch.

George Brookes, grandson of the designer of the Golden City, at the wheel of the almost completed boat one week before it was destroyed by fire.
Pic: Di Thomas

About the Golden City Paddle Steamer Museum Society

The Golden City Paddle Steamer Museum Society Inc. is a non-profit community organisation formed in 1988 to facilitate the restoration and return to operation of the last of what was a significant fleet of paddlesteamers on Lake Wendouree in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.

Picture of paddlesteamer circa 1995

In 1987 the Golden City Paddle Steamer was returned to Ballarat after an absence of 21 years by the Apex Club of Ballarat. The Society was formed a year later as a consequence of a public meeting convened by the Apex Club of Ballarat.

Through the support of volunteers and a wide range of corporate sponsors and community groups, the Society was able to restore the Golden City Paddle Steamer to operational conditions in the early 1990's.

After a few years, the Golden City was taken off the water to enable a comprehensive restoration to be undertaken. The restoration was largely undertaken by volunteers and was almost complete in 2006 when tragedy struck.

New Golden City being planned

Picture of the Gill family at the final event prior to the fire

Refusing to concede defeat after so many years of hard work, the Committee has now resolved to raise funds to build a new Golden City Paddle Steamer. With the huge groundswell of public, corporate and civic support they are confident that sufficient funds can be raised to put a new vessel onto Lake Wendouree to let future generations enjoy the experience of cruising around the Lake.

Members of the Gill Family, descendants of the original builder of the Golden City, at a function a week before fire destroyed the boat.
Pic: Di Thomas

Catastrophic fire destroys the Golden City

Picture of paddlesteamer fire

In the early hours of Friday March 3 2006, a fire started in the shed housing the Paddle Steamer and an engineering works and in the ensuing blaze the boat was completely destroyed. Nothing salvageable was left although some symbolic parts of the boat were recovered as memories of what had been.

It was particularly heartbreaking as the boat was within a few weeks of completion, at the end of a process that had taken effectively 20 years.

Pic: Di Thomas