The tug boats of the northern river at Laurieton Library

The work horse: Ian Goulding with Lyn Workman say the vessel models give a three dimensional insight into history. A number of tug boat models are on display at Laurieton Library for the month of July.
The work horse: Ian Goulding with Lyn Workman say the vessel models give a three dimensional insight into history. A number of tug boat models are on display at Laurieton Library for the month of July.

Ian Goulding and Lyn Workman say they believe not many in the Camden Haven would realise the significant role tug boats had in the region.

“They were everything,” Ms Workman said. 

A number of tug boat models are on display at Laurieton Library. The vessels will be available to view until the end of July. 

The tug boats had a key role in ensuring the viability of the trade. They also provided a source of income for the town’s business, provided a source of education and entertainment for the community. 

Ms Workman said the school children would be taken on the tugs for excursions and the vessels would also transport injured football team players to Taree Hospital. 

Mr Goulding said there is so much history in the Camden Haven both on the banks and in the water. 

“The river was the life blood,” he said. 

Ms Workman is in charge of researching the history of the vessels while Mr Goulding concentrates on bringing the vessels to life with the creation of models. 

Mr Goulding said the vessel models give a three dimensional insight into history. 

The couple find out the correct dimensions of the vessel, then work on a quarter inch to a foot and gather as many photographs from every angle to ensure accuracy. 

Ms Workman has been doing research on the shipping for about 10 years. 

Mr Goulding said he is still captivated by the diversity of craft and the courage of the men and women who worked the river systems. 

“We have spent a good portion of our lives collecting documents, photographs and oral history of the craft used for trade in the northern rivers,” he said. 

Mr Goulding said the bar rivers of the coast were notorious for difficult entry and exit.

“So it was imperative that the rivers had their own tug,” he said. 

“In the early days these vessels pulled schooners and ketches over the treacherous bars.” 

On October 5, 1898 the tug boat Unique became stranded while towing the schooner Amelia White. 

The tow rope fouled the tug’s propeller and both vessels went aground. The tug survived the schooner wreck. 

However when Unique entered the Camden Haven bar towing Captain Nissen in December 1901 it overturned and became a total wreck. 

Mr Goulding said with the advent of the industrial revolution and the steam engine, timber mills became more productive and steam ships were bigger in size. 

“Our rivers gained commercially so tug boats had a key position of ensuring the viability of the trade,” he said. 

The control of the tug boats was given to pilots who were experts at working with the tides and shifting river shoals.