Cumberoona will sink without a trace

The Cumberoona paddlesteamer. Picture: BEN EYLES
The Cumberoona paddlesteamer. Picture: BEN EYLES

THE Cumberoona paddlesteamer is on death row and the fate of a multimillion-dollar riverside development could also be in doubt.

Albury Council’s community and cultural committee chaired by Cr Patricia Gould will be presented with a recommendation tonight to sell the paddlesteamer, which has been dry docked since 2006.

It follows a failed nationwide search for a suitable operator earlier this year.

The committee will vote on a recommendation that the council disposes of the Cumberoona via a public offer process, which could realise about $170,000 from its sale and maintenance costs.

But the council has previously proposed a riverside project incorporating permanent mooring facilities for the Cumberoona largely bankrolled by private investment.

The report presented for consideration tonight spells out how the Cumberoona and riverside precinct are linked.

“The success of the Cumberoona as an operating vessel or static display at the riverside precinct will be significantly influenced by private sector interest in the commercial development aspects of the precinct,” the report states.

“The commercial elements will create a critical mass of product or experiences that will drive residents and visitors to the precinct.”

A total of $1 million has been included in the four-year council plan for public infrastructure including river access, mooring points, boardwalks and links to existing trails and landscaping.

Since the failed search for an operator, the council has had further talks about the Cumberoona with an unidentified business, people involved in the vessel’s construction, an undisclosed private operator and the Friends of the Cumberoona.

Other options of leasing, storage and preservation and council operating the Cumberoona were rejected in favour of the sale option.

Cr Darren Cameron, who urged other councillors to sell the Cumberoona three months ago, said he planned to raise opposition to the riverside commercial development.

“I’ve never supported the concept of a $17 million riverside development,” he said.

“There are some people who wishfully think that keeping the Cumberoona would enhance the likelihood of that happening.

“The project has always been theoretically predicated on a private investor providing the capital.

“But I’ve been hearing this story since I was last on council in 1995.

“I am fearful that if government money was offered towards this project, we would find ourselves in the same dilemma as the art gallery.”