|Maritime Heritage Heroes receive award|
|Friday, 28 August 2009 16:09|
The South Australian Maritime Museum volunteers who crew, operate and maintain the Museum’s heritage vessels, ‘Yelta’ and ‘Archie Badenoch’ have been honoured as South Australian Heritage Heroes.
The SA Heritage Heroes programme is a collaboration between the Department for Environment and Heritage, SA Heritage Council and the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, UniSA. The awards recognise volunteers who devote time to caring for our State’s heritage.
“This award recognises the invaluable work of our volunteers,” said South Australian Maritime Museum Director, Kevin Jones.
“The operation and maintenance of our historic fleet of vessels would simply not be possible without them. This group ensures that an iconic, historical, and educational part of South Australia’s maritime heritage is preserved for future generations to see and experience.”
The volunteer group’s backgrounds are from a wide cross section of the community with varying skills and experience. These range from retired business owners, retired and still employed seamen and stevedores through to fully qualified, seagoing marine engineers and ship’s masters.
The one thing they all have in common is great respect for South Australia’s maritime heritage and a burning desire to see that this heritage is not lost or forgotten, but kept and preserved in trust for future generations of South Australians.
These volunteers crew and maintain the only heritage craft still working in the Inner Harbour, Port Adelaide’s traditional centre of shipping. The vessels include the steam tug ‘Yelta’ which is 60 years old this year, and the ex-South Australian Police motor launch, ‘Archie Badenoch’, which was built at the General Motors Holden plants at Woodville and Birkenhead in 1942, initially as a naval workboat.
Information on the vessels
The ‘Yelta’ is an icon of Port Adelaide. This unique vessel was built in 1949 by Cockatoo Docks and Engineering, Sydney, for Ritch and Smith of Port Adelaide. It was originally coal fired, but was converted to oil in 1957.
For 27 years, ‘Yelta’ was a permanent fixture towing vessels in and out of Port Adelaide. It was finally retired in November 1976 as South Australia’s last fully operational steam tug. The South Australian Maritime Museum purchased ‘Yelta’ in 1985.
‘Yelta’ was chosen by the museum as its flagship because it represents a significant part of Port Adelaide and South Australia’s history and heritage and is at the heart of the port’s working past. It also has one of the few remaining working marine steam engines in Australia.
Since the purchase, our group of museum volunteers have restored and maintained it ever since.
‘Yelta’ had been out of survey for the last few years due to funding and crewing problems. The volunteers have persevered through this very difficult and uncertain time and still have managed to come down to the vessel at least two days a week, spending up to eight hours a day each, on board.
It has just been re-surveyed after spending three months on a slipway. Since completing the survey the ‘Yelta’ will continue to introduce South Australians and interstate/overseas visitors of all ages to the steam powered days of yesteryear. It is one of the last remaining vessels still afloat and in survey, which can showcase South Australia’s, and Australia’s, rich and varied working steam marine heritage.
In 1946 the craft was acquired by the South Australian Police Department and served as the Number One Police Launch. The vessel was named by the police department to commemorate mounted Police Constable Archibald Badenoch, the first South Australian police officer to be killed in action in the Second World War, at El Alamein, North Africa on November 1, 1942.
From 1942 to 1978 the ‘Archie Badenoch’ was the only all-weather deep-sea police patrol vessel in local waters. During its time as the principal police launch, Archie established an outstanding sea working record, featuring in hundreds of rescues throughout South Australian coastal waters and saving many lives. After 32 years of loyal service the vessel was retired in 1978.
‘Archie’ has belonged to the museum since then and has been maintained and operated by volunteers ever since. It’s crewed on a roster basis who, between them, put in up to fifty hours a fortnight.
It is currently in survey to carry 24 passengers and two crew, and each year it carries about 9,500 passengers, the majority of which are school groups who visit the maritime museum.
The students use her in conjunction with the Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society volunteers for viewing and finding dolphins in the Port River. It is equipped with an underwater hydrophone hooked up to a speaker system on board so that the school children can listen to the dolphins and other underwater residents of the river as part of their visit.
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