John is a natural jokester with a flare for spinning a yarn. John’s involvement with paddle boats was more a hobby than anything, ‘moonlighting on paddleboats”, as he described it when he wasn’t working for the ABC (or XYZ as he liked to call it) as a cameraman assistant. John lives in Ballarat, Victoria but commutes to volunteer when he can on the PS Marion, an indication of his passion for the old steamer.
Interestingly, John used to be an owner of the PS Marion after buying it in 1958 in Morgan. John took her to Berri where she became a boarding house for several years before he sold the PS Marion to the National Trust, who in turn moved her to Mannum in 1963, where she laid in dry dock for nearly 30 years.
A major restoration job on the PS Marion started in 1991 by local volunteers from around Mannum, which John was involved with.
For John, one of the most exciting experiences on the PS Marion, was when she was recommissioned in 1994 and again steamed up and down the River Murray.
John continues to volunteer as Chief Engineer on the PS Marion and provides advice to operators of many heritage vessels and endless ideas for the Mannum Dock Museum.
John was awarded the inaugural Life Membership of the Friends of the Marion in 2013 to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of what was supposed to be the last ever journey of the grand old lady but of course with John and the many other dedicated volunteers, she still cruises today and in the years to come.