The day dawned wet and miserable, as a major 'adverse weather event' swept across the south-east corner of our country inundating farms, villages and towns and sweeping all before it. All except the 45 hardy souls who were determined to relive the grand days of steam upon the harbour, in a journey aboard the sea-going steam tug, 'Waratah'.
Built at Cockatoo Island in 1902 as the 'Burunda', her role was to tow dredges between the major ports of the NSW coast. She was given a NSW name, 'Waratah', at the end of WW1 and in 1948, due to her age and condition, was restricted to the port of Newcastle.
In 1968 the government announced that she was uneconomical and was to be scrapped. The Sydney Heritage Fleet girded its loins for a battle. They bought her for 600 pounds.
After extensive restoration, involving a multitude of volunteer hours, the 'Waratah' steamed again in 1981 and in 1993 was granted permission to carry 49 passengers.
As we steamed from Roselle Bay up to the Concord Bridge, we were the centre of attention from other vessels and those walking the grey foreshores. With the peculiar stench of cinders and oil in my nostrils, I lived again the age of steam!
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