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Good ship Enterprise hits 125 years at steam

20 AUGUST 2003

The National Museum of Australia's resident paddlesteamer, the Enterprise, celebrates its 125th anniversary this Saturday, making it one of the oldest operational steam-powered vessels in the world.

In a day of free family activities, Consuming Passions award-winning chef Ian Parmenter will prepare a special Murray stew and an Enterprise cake will be cut by Jocelyn Brown and Ken Creager, who spent their childhood on board the ship.

"The Enterprise captures the story of more than a century of bustling river trade," said National Museum Director Dawn Casey. "Now, as a working exhibit on Lake Burley Griffin, we can learn about her days as a towboat, a fishing boat and a home."

Originally designed to tow barges, the Enterprise was home to families including the Creagers, who led a self-contained existence on the river for 26 years, relatively sheltered from pressures of the First and Second World wars and the Depression.

The Enterprise was acquired by the National Museum in 1984 and after a massive restoration at Echuca, was formally recommissioned on Lake Burley Griffin in 1988.

Today it is maintained by a crew of 40 volunteers, who regularly open the historic vessel to the public. The crew includes Canberra woman Barbara Toohey, whose ancestors lived on board Enterprise in the early 1900s.

The activities on 23 August run from 10.30am to 3pm and include performances from the world's best female town crier, Judy Campbell; bush dancing and storytelling.

At 11.30am Ms Casey will present several volunteers with long service awards and the new PS Enterprise book will be launched. PS Enterprise, by travel writer John Clark and paddlesteamer enthusiast David Wardle, examines Australia's rich riverboat era and the history, restoration and conservation of the steamer that now calls the National Museum home.

Enterprise will be open for inspection and Ian Parmenter will put the finishing touches to his stew from 12.30pm, before it is served at the Museum's Cuiseum café.

For more information please contact Leanda Coleman at the National Museum of Australia on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or l.coleman@nma.gov.au