Constructed of cast iron with restored wooden handles, this steering wheel is from the drogher PS Jumbo, the last drogher to operate on the Macleay River. Operated by the North Coast Steam Navigation Company she carried gravel, timber, logs and other freight. The rear mounted paddle wheel driven drogher was later sold to Kempsey Shire Council to carry stone and other road maintenance materials up and down the Macleay River and became known as the ‘Stone Ferry’.
Carrying stone was a heavy and at times hazardous task, Cec Mackay who skippered the drogher from time to time recalls an incident in 1938 when the PS Jumbo laden with stone, heeled over in windy conditions and sank. To refloat her, the stone had to be unloaded by shovel and carted ashore by wheelbarrow.
Her role was cut short in 1947 when she sank whilst tied up at East Frederickton Wharf. There was some controversy around the sinking as the drogher with its flat bottom had tilted at low tide and instead of rising with the tide simply remained in the same position with the high tide water flowing into her. Efforts to refloat her failed and the Shire Engineer’s decision not to salvage the vessel resulted in his resignation a short time later.
Kempsey Shire Council invited tenders for the purchase of the submerged drogher and eventually accepted an insurance payment, selling the PS Jumbo to the Lawson Construction Company. She was later refurbished but became beached at Spencers Creek, Jerseyville, where remains can still be seen today.