Steam Boats on the Albert and Logan Rivers

Written by Dr. Graeme Nicholson

River steam boats started appearing on the Logan and Albert Rivers in the early 1860s. There were many of these vessels usually of about 30 to 40 tons (about the same in tonnes) with a length of around 90 to 100 feet (about 27 to 30 metres).

Space allows only two of these to be featured in this article.

The Steamer Amy Moored on the Albert River, ca. 1872.

The photograph above shows the Amy, probably around 1872, when she was still operating in the south-east Queensland area. Along with other vessels including the Louisa, Leonie, Diamond, and the Maid of Sker. The Amy was operating in the Brisbane, Bremer, Albert and Logan Rivers as well as traversing Moreton Bay.     

The Amy was a small iron steamer of around thirty-four tons, which had been built in Brisbane in 1863, by shipbuilder G. McLean and was operated by Messrs Orr and Honeyman of Brisbane. Later, in June 1867, the Amy was purchased by Messrs Robertson and Wilson.

The Amy served in several locations and in a range of roles up to 1877, when the vessel was acquired by Burns Philp & Co. Limited for its Gulf of Carpentaria operations and it left the area.

Following is a newspaper report from page 3 of the Queenslander, 30 March 1872:

                                        THE LAUNCH OF THE LOUISA

Louisa – Queensland’s First Iron Steamboat

The launch on March 26 of the first iron steamboat ever constructed in this colony marks an important epoch in its history. The little vessel in question – named the “Louisa” – has been designed and entirely constructed at the foundry of Messrs. R. R. Smellie and Co, to the order of Mr. E. Mellor, the owner of the “Settler”. The cost will be something like £2000 (about $342,000 today). The dimensions of the Louisa are as follows: Length overall, 90 feet; breadth amidships, 16 feet 6 inches; depth of hold 5 feet 9 inches in the clear; capacity of carriage, 100 tons. Her lines were drawn by Mr. James Robertson, who has superintended the whole of the carpenters’ work.

The Steamer Louisa, Plied Trade to Ipswich and Travelled the Albert and Logan Rivers.

The Louisa was later bought by Mr. John Burke, who many years after became quite well-known as the owner of a large shipping company.

The full story of these steamboats and many others is contained in a new history book entitled ‘Remembering Beenleigh and District:1860 – 1960’ on sale at The Beenleigh Historical Village, Main Street, Beenleigh.

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