The cream/milk boat 'Sunlight', which was a common sight on the Manning River from the 1930s on, will be brought back to its former beauty to for part of the display at Cundletown Museum.
For some time, the museum has displayed a farm dray which took the milk to the factory or the road for pickup, as well as an early milk can truck.
The addition of the cream/milk boat completes the museum's collection of the early history of milk transport from the farm to the factory.
Known as the 'Sunlight', this important artefact was part of the Lower Manning Dairy Co-op fleet being built by W O Ryan and Sons at the Lower Manning Dairy Co-op Factory, Mitchells Island, in 1933. She commenced work on December 9 that same year.
The 'Sunlight' was the smallest vessel in the fleet, being specifically built for the Ghinni Ghinni Creek Run.
She continued operating daily, and sometimes twice a day in the summer months, until 1969, a period of 36 consecutive years of service, collecting cream cans full of milk from the dairy farms that had access to the river.
On April 21, 1969 she was then sold to T L Laurie, who converted her into an oyster boat. She was used for this purpose by three generations of the Laurie family before being acquired by Michael Barlin.
The 'Sunlight' will be renovated and returned to her original cream boat status by volunteers to resemble the original boat built by Ryan's Shipyards.
To assist in this work, the museum has received a donation of a sling of timber from Forest Corporation and Boral Mills, which is very much appreciated.
The display will be further enhanced by the addition of rails and winch relocated to the museum from 2nd Taree Sea Scout Hall in River Street, Taree. The display will depict the boat being winched from the river onto the slipway for repairs.
Whilst she was owned by the Manning River Dairy Co-Op to collect cream and milk, the 'Sunlight' had many additional uses such as taking children to school, transporting families to Taree for shopping, conveying expectant mothers to Taree Hospital, as well as carrying goods from stores in Taree back down river to farmers who had pre-ordered them.
In addition, the 'Sunlight' (and other boats of the fleet) were used to rescue farmers and their families from low-lying properties in times of flood.
Though replaced by modern, road using, refrigerated milk tankers, the need for, and impact of, cream boats such as the 'Sunshine', utilising the Manning River, will now be preserved at Cundletown Museum for future generations.
Cundletown Museum is operated by the Cundletown and Lower Manning Historical Society and is open Tuesdays to Sundays between 10am and 3pm. It is located on the corner of Main and Queen Streets, Cundletown.
The story 'Sunlight' to be restored to her original cream boat status first appeared on Manning River Times.