The P.S. Melbourne is licensed to carry 300 passengers, and is 98 feet long, 21 feet wide at the waterline and 40 feet across the top of the paddles. Like all other Paddlesteamers, she has almost a flat bottom and therefore a very shallow draught. The bow only draws 2 feet, 6 inches whilst the stern 3 feet. So the Melbourne could safely float and operate fully laden in less than 4 feet of water. The Melbourne has a composite hull, which means she has a redgum hull with iron topsides.
The old steam engine was originally built by the Marshall Engineering Company in England. The boiler is referred to as a Loco type with a maximum steam pressure of 150lbs and still fired by wood. This in turn drives a twin cylinder compound engine, which at normal cruising speed turns at about 60 turns per minute. At her maximum speed of 11 miles per hour, 130 rpm.
The Rothbury layed idle at Mildura moored at the original “Andersons” slipway for 10 years until she was purchased by Captain Alby Pointon in 1968 for restoration for the Tourism Trade. (Captain Pointon had already restored and was operating the Paddle Steamer Melbourne and Mayflower).
During the Rothbury’s seven year restoration, her 55HP Steam Engine and boiler combination was removed for a lower maintenance Gardner Diesel Engine. Hence the current initials P.V. (Paddle Vessel) and not P.S. (Paddle Steamer). However, the Rothbury retains her original wheelhouse and all top deck cabins are the original also. A Bar, Galley and dining facilities replaced the steam engine area. The Rothbury is 88 feet long, 19 feet wide at the water line with a width of 32 feet accross the top of the paddles, weighs 90 tons, and is licensed to carry 175 passengers.
PS Melbourne Cruises
As Australia’s most famous Paddlesteamer, the Melbourne has attracted passengers from all over the world. Cruises depart twice daily from Mildura Wharf. The morning cruise leaves at 10.50am and returns at 1.00pm and the afternoon cruise leaves at 1.50pm and returns at 4.00pm. A unique feature of most cruises is travelling downstream through Lock 11, which was built to bypass the weir across the river. Passengers can experience the workings of a lock as the Melbourne is lowered to the downstream level and raised again on the return journey.
An informative and comprehensive live commentary of the river and it’s history, fauna and flora is conducted throughout the cruise involving the public in the current beauty and history of the river and it’s vessels. Passengers can see the fireman fire the boiler and enjoy the magic of the old engine as it drives the massive gears of the paddlewheels, resounding the times of the “Old Paddlesteamer Days”.
<a href="/paddleboats/ps-melbourne">Click here for PS Melbourne cruises and cruise times</a>
PV Rothbury Cruises
The family day cruises go downstream through Lock 11. The lock was built to permit boats to bypass the weir across the river. Passengers can experience the workings of Lock 11 as the Rothbury is lowered to the downstream level and raised again on the return journey. Additional cruises operate for group bookings.
For a day of leisure, the Rothbury cruises to Trentham Estate Winery every Thursday departing Mildura Wharf at 10.30am. At a relaxing pace the cruise heads upstream past the small scenic towns of Buronga, Gol Gol and Trentham Cliffs. After morning tea/coffee and an informative river commentary the Rothbury arrives at picturesque Trentham Estate. Visitors join a guided tour, followed by wine tasting of Gold Medal winning wines produced exclusively on the Estate, (the Murphy family have grown grapes in the area since 1909). Enjoy a delicious BBQ lunch with sweets, prepared while passengers relax on the riverbank overlooking Kings Billabong. The Rothbury’s sundecks, and sheltered open air areas as well, make for a comfortable and relaxing return cruise to Mildura Wharf by 3.30pm. Additional cruises operate during holidays and for group bookings.
For a night out join the Rothbury on Thursday evenings at 7.00pm for a Spit Roast Carvery dinner with sweets selection, tea or coffee. Cruising upstream, enjoy the sights of the tranquil Murray River. Then as night falls, relax to the reflections of the majestic river red gums and flood lit riverbank. Or dance the night away with live music on board. Returning to Mildura Wharf at 10.00pm. Additional evenings available for group bookings.