Boat building was an important industry in Echuca in the late 1800s, mainly due to the endless supply of superior red gum in the nearby Barmah, Moira and Perricoota forests. Today, shipwrights still based at Port of Echuca continue to practice their trade in ways that bring the river heritage to the local community and tourists alike.
Over the years Port of Echuca has assembled a skilled team responsible for several major paddlesteamer restoration projects. As Kevin Hutchinson, the Port’s senior shipwright says, “Rebuilding paddlesteamers is a team effort. Although I have been the leader you need a good lot of workers to do the job and I have been lucky to find a team for each major restoration.”
The work of Kevin and his team have made an enormous contribution to both the local community and Australia’s heritage. Although a lot of the old skills have been forgotten, Kevin is confident it will all keep going. “We’ve trained the young blokes to maintain [the paddlesteamers]. We’ve got the people to drive them. And people want to see them.”
Article: Shipwright's Honor - Kevin Hutchinson is awarded Order of Australia Medal. Riverine Herald, 1990