Albury was first reached by water when the paddle steamer, appropriately named Albury, arrived on October 2, 1855.
The river provided a 'highway' for the transport of the produce of the Albury district to markets at home and abroad and brought great prosperity to the region. Fortunes were made by some steamer proprietors.
Launched in June 1866, PS Cumberoona was built at Echuca for the Albury Steam Navigation Company.
Shareholders were local graziers John Hore and John Dight, and five businessmen who had been or would later serve as Mayors of Albury, James Fallon, William Edmondson, George Day, Thomas Mate and Kenneth McLennan.
The Riverine Herald reported that: "Her saloon and ladies' cabin are fitted with much taste and elegance combined with comfort, and she possesses perhaps the best passenger accommodation to be found on the river".
On her maiden voyage from Echuca to Albury in July 1866, she hit a snag and sank. It was reported that: "The aft saloon is submerged, and there is about three feet of water in it". Repairs had the Cumberoona back on the water and she arrived in Albury on August 23, 1866, with Captain James Mace at the helm.
A public holiday was proclaimed in celebration. The vessel principally navigated to and from Echuca, meeting the rail line there.
Rail had arrived in Echuca in 1864, so cargo would be transferred off the boat for rail to Melbourne and supplies for Albury loaded aboard.
The river trade peaked in the early 1870s, but a rail link from Melbourne to Wodonga in 1873 and then to Albury from Sydney in 1881, saw a rapid decline in river trade.
The Albury Banner in November 1874 reported that: "The railway has driven steamers from the Murray."
The Cumberoona was sold by the Albury partners in June 1873.
She continued to work on the Murrumbidgee and Darling Rivers.
Then came a sad ending for the once proud vessel. Loaded with flour and woolpacks, she hit rocks on the Darling in June 1889 and sank.
After efforts to re-float her failed, she was abandoned.
In February 1892, after complaints from skippers of other vessels about her blocking the river, the wreck was blown up with dynamite.
For Albury, the river trade only lasted about twenty hectic years.
By the end of the nineteenth century, the 'Port of Albury' was just a memory.
More information on YouTube at https://youtu.be/o1HUZUBu3Cw or visit https://alburyhistory.org.au/resources/history-topics/
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