Image of the Paddle Steamer PS Pyap taken at Swan Hill in northern Victoria, Australia.
Camera Olympus E-520
Focal length 30.0mm
The Pyap was built by W. Westergaard and Sons for Captain Charles Oliver. The Pyap was made with wood and iron. It began as a barge in 1896. In 1898 it had a ten horsepower steam engine fitted. It was named after the settlement ‘Pyap’ (near Loxton) on the banks of the Murray River in South Australia.
As a hawking boat she sank on two occasions with the loss of all stock. In 1908 the Pyap was sold to Eudunda Farmers’ Co-op Society Ltd. The original steam engine was removed and sold for 200 pounds. Some machinery from the P.S. Victor was removed and installed in the Pyap-presumably the 1892 Garret 16 horsepower steam engine. As a “floating store” she travelled weekly (Monday through to Saturday) from Murray Bridge to Morgan and return, visiting 60 landings. Captain Sladen was Master for 23 years followed by Thomas Davis.
In 1931 with the arrival of road transport, the Pyap was no longer required and was sold for 100 pounds to L. H. Silver. The 1932 Register of Shipping recorded Silver as owner. In the mid 1930’s it appears that Les Mewett bought the Pyap for the use of carting wood and general cargo.
In the early 1940’s the Pyap was owned by Bill Collins. He used the boat for carting wood from Euston and Trentham Cliffs to the Psyche Bend Pumping Station near Mildura. Near Monak, the Pyap’s winches were used to operate a punt enabling trucks to cross the Murray.
In the late 1940’s the Pyap was retired and tied up near Mildura. Bill Collins (junior) and his wife lived on board until about 1953.
In the late 1960’s wheat farmer E.W. ‘Toby’ Henson purchased the Pyap from the Collins’ family minus its engine which went to Wilson’s Salvage yard in Merbein. This Engine is now installed in the P. S. Mundoo which operated for many years from Goolwa, South Australia and is now in Mildura, Victoria. The steam engine was not required as a diesel engine was intended to be installed to allow for one man operation. A Ferguson engine was installed to provide motive power to get the Pyap to Swan Hill.
It took 13 days to travel from Mildura to Swan Hill. There was a number of problems that had to be solved along the way. Because the new engine was lighter, the Pyap floated higher and the paddles just flapped on top of the water. The old engine weighed 9 tons and so concrete had to be used to lower the vessel in the water. The next problem was with the height of the Mildura Bridge. Sixty-one cm was cut off the tow pole of the Pyap to allow it to pass under. The last major problem was with the drive rope which kept stretching. It was replaced by a chain.
A few days after arriving at the Pioneer Settlement, Swan Hill, the Pyap sank.
The reason the Pyap sinking was water entering through cracks that had opened up between the planks in the hull. Due to age, the caulking material used to seal between the planks had broken down with the force of water against it during the voyage to Swan Hill.
It took eight months to turn the Pyap into a tourist vessel. A new G. M. Gray Marine Diesel Engine was fitted, as well as a four cylinder diesel engine to drive a generator. The wooden hull was replaced with steel. The cabins were removed and handrails were installed for safety. The Pyap then operated from the Pioneer Settlement all year round. The Pyap can carry 200 passengers.
On the 28th of September 1978 the Pyap caught fire and was burnt to the water line. After much effort the Pyap was fully rebuilt within six weeks with many sections prefabricated in Melbourne.
The cause of the fire was reported as unknown.
Reconstruction of the Pyap took only six weeks- a remarkable effort!
The Pyap was sold to Victour Properties in 1984 and leased to the Pioneer Settlement, Swan Hill. The Captains at this time were Shane Till, Dennis Kerr and Paddy Hogg.
In 1988 the Pyap was given to the Swan Hill City Council (now Swan Hill Rural City Council). Bill Hogg (son of Paddy) was Captain of the Pyap.
In 1995 after 25 years of service the Pyap’s motor was replaced with a six cylinder Gardiner motor. From 1995 the Pyap had 3 captains: Shane Till, Kathy Noble and Brian Hogan.
In 1996 the Pyap celebrated its 100th birthday.