Steering Wheel and Gear Box Assembly ; c1950s; 7974


Wingham Museum


Steering Wheel and Gear Box Assembly

About this object

Crème de la crème
This bronze steering wheel and gear box casing is all that remains of the Sunrise II, the last cream boat to operate on the Manning River. Custom built by boat builder Bill Ryan of Browns Creek, Taree in the early 1950s the Sunrise II collected cream from farms along the Manning River taking it to the Butter Factory at Scott’s Creek, Mitchells Island until the early 1970s.

Cream boats were built with a sleek and shallow draft to enable access to farms located along creeks and river tributaries and became redundant once road transport was improved. The steering wheel and gear box were removed during the Sunrise II’s subsequent refit as a fishing trawler. They appear to be rare surviving items associated with any of the many cream boats that once operated on Mid North Coast waterways.

The steering wheel and gear box were manufactured by Haden’s Engineering of Taree and evidence the depth and breadth of technical and engineering skills available in the Manning area at the time. These companies supported a web of industries that developed in the Manning River Valley including boat building, dairying, butter making and transport itself. Both Ryan’s boat builders and Haden’s engineering companies remain in operation today.

As humble as it now appears, this wheel assembly exhibits a high quality of design and manufacture that enabled the Sunrise II to navigate and travel along the Manning River waterways. Unusually cast in bronze, it is reported that some of the boat skippers did not like the steering wheel as it was very cold to use in the early mornings of winter. Perhaps bronze was the most suitable material on hand at the time of manufacture.

The Sunrise II not only transported goods and produce, but people, mail, newspapers and domestic items too. For many communities along the river, the cream boat was relied upon for communication and was an important part of domestic and social life for those along the river. Industry, domestic and social life were interwoven into the fabric of the many communities along the river and this steering wheel and gear box casing played a role in the extensive and rich river culture that developed along the Manning.

Bob Berry and Terry Tournoff
12 August 2014

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Richard Stockley 18 May 2016 09:18 AM,UTC

we have the same wheel in our ferry the MV Sun, built by Bill Ryan, and one of the original cream boats, purported to have originally been named Sunshine II, please contact me I am in search of information

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