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0411 395 903

Before travelling to Marlo it is advisable to ring our mobile number and confirm that the Curlip is sailing.

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PS Curlip Inc,
PO Box 358,
Orbost VIC 3888


Paddle Steamer Curlip construction

construction1PS Curlip II has been constructed as a local community project, with over 16,000 hours of volunteer time. It has been made possible by substantial funding from the Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development and the Federal Department of Transport and Regional Services, as well as support from East Gippsland Shire Council and other agencies. Many private business and individuals have generously donated time, equipment, materials and money.

Construction specifications.

Paddle Steamer Curlip II is 65’ (19.8m) long, 25’ (7.5m) beam (including wing decks) with a draft of 3’(900mm) and weighs upwards of 40 tonnes. She has a counter stern, a flared bow and a flat bottom, with a 1’ (300mm) square keel. She has carvel planking, 2” (50mm) thick decking fastened with silicon bronze screws, and is caulked with oakum hemp. Local bluegum (E. globulous ssp pseudoglobulous) is used for all except the central and sister keelsons, which are ironbark. The timber, felling, transport and milling were all donated by DSE and private contractors.

She is massively engineered, to withstand the forces of being lifted in and out of the water by crane: there is no slipway on the Snowy. Twenty seven inch (810mm) aluminum bronze bolts through the keelson, floor timbers, hog and keel form a massive rigid girder along her length. She is ring framed, with uprights, floor timbers, deck beams and diagonal strapping all bolted every which way to make her absolutely rigid.

Her 11’ (3.3m) paddle wheels are chain driven on a four to one ratio by a twin cylinder steam engine, powered by a fire tube boiler.
Above decks there is a small cabin housing the galley while the engine and boiler are in an open bay covered by an awning.

construction2It all started in 2002...
When Gil Richardson, and a group of timber and boat loving mates decided it was time to build a new Paddle Steamer Curlip to operate as a tourist attraction on the Snowy River. Gil Richardson is a descendant of Samuel Richardson , the builder PS Curlip I, and has lived and farmed all his life on the floodplain of the Snowy River. Many serious hours of planning, research and lobbying were put in, with the outstanding result of substantial grant funds from Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development and the Federal Department of Transport and Regional Services. No less than 80 submissions from various community groups supported the application for grant funding. A huge amount of practical and material support has been provided by the East Gippsland Shire Council, the EG Catchment Management Authority, Parks Victoria, the Department of Sustainability and Environment as well as many private companies and individuals. Donations of material, equipment and time have poured in.


The Curlip is an expression of many skills that are disappearing from the modern world. The solid 1’ (300mm) square keel, as well as the keelson, breast hooks and knees were cut from solid logs by a now retired sleeper cutter, Mack Donchi, using a swing saw. A swing saw is essentially a huge circular saw on wheels, guided by hand to make precision cuts on massive pieces of timber.

The curved structures of the knees, stem and deadwood were hand shaped by precision adze work, by Graham Fall, one of the last masters of this craft. The adze marks have been retained, rather than sanded to a machine like finish, to display the workmanship embodied in the boat.

Massive bolts in the frame required the drilling by eye of holes going up through 18 inches (450mm) of solid timber through outer chine, frame and inner chine, with a target area of only one inch (25 mm) square.

Paddle Steamer Curlip would not have been possible with out the generous help of our partners:

  • The Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development
  • The Federal Department of Transport and Regional Services
  • East Gippsland Shire Council
  • East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority
  • The Orbost Community
  • The many businesses and individuals who have supported us
  • The Department of Sustainability and Environment
  • Parks Victoria
  • Orbost Secondary College
  • Gill Engineering
  • Laminated Timbers
  • James Yeates Printing
  • and
    The many other businesses and individuals who have supported us.

Last Updated (Friday, 15 October 2010 13:19)

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