DELICATE OPERATION: The 77-year-old cane barge that will be relocated from its current home at Ferry Park in Maclean to Lawrence Museum.
DELICATE OPERATION: The 77-year-old cane barge that will be relocated from its current home at Ferry Park in Maclean to Lawrence Museum. Clarence Valley Council

Cane barge move mission possible for council

MOVING a 77-year-old, 18 tonne rusting and fragile relic from its home for the past 38 years without breaking it is a challenge facing Clarence Valley Council project manager Justin Menzies ahead of the relocation of an old sugar cane barge at Ferry Park, Maclean, to the Lawrence Museum.

Perimeter safety fencing will be installed today, and on Friday Mr Menzies will join an engineer, a draftsman and shipwright on site at Ferry Park to start what is expected to be a fairly lengthy planning process for the vessel's relocation.

To minimise possible damage they will use a vacuum excavator to dig around the hull to investigate its structural integrity and the best way to move it, and hope to be able to design a cradle that can go under the vessel so it can be lifted in one piece.

If it can, Mr Menzies said it was hoped a cradle could be designed that would support the vessel so it didn't collapse while being lifted.

FLASHBACK: A tug and cane barges in Sportsmans Creek, Lawrence, in the 1960s.
FLASHBACK: A tug and cane barges in Sportsmans Creek, Lawrence, in the 1960s. Clarence Valley Council

Mr Menzies said the vessel was too big to go on the Lawrence Ferry, so would have to go over land - probably either up the Pacific Highway and back through the Summerland Way or south along the highway and then along the Gwydir Highway and finally along the Summerland Way.

"I think this is the last journey it will ever make,” he said.

"And it's going to be one of the hair and the tortoise with, hopefully, the tortoise winning the race.”

A tug and cane barges in Sportsmans Creek, Lawrence, in the 1960s.
A tug and cane barges in Sportsmans Creek, Lawrence, in the 1960s. Clarence Valley Council

Mr Menzies said the ferry at the park named in its honour would also be relocated, and it too was going to be an exercise where many heads would be used to get the right result.

"It is in a serious state of disrepair and will need to be dismantled,” he said.

"We'll salvage whatever we can and transport that to the Lawrence Museum to be rebuilt.”

Lawrence Museum vice president, Roz Jones, said getting the barge and ferry on site was part of a long-term plan to develop a museum for Clarence River vessels because, currently, there is none.



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