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Historic Return of Paddlewheeler Marks a Journey of Resilience

Nov 15, 2023

The Paddlewheeler “Ian Burns” made an emotional return to Windsor over the weekend, after a two-day journey from Brooklyn. This voyage marked a significant milestone for Burns, whose last event on the vessel took place on Valentine’s Day in 2020. The journey down the river unveiled the lasting impact of the devastating floods that began in February 2020 and swept the Paddlewheeler downstream to Lower Portland, and later, Wisemans Ferry.

The damage caused by those unprecedented floods was significant, and Ian’s journey to restore his beloved boat has been far from smooth. To keep the boat afloat during this challenging period, Ian had to make the heart-wrenching decision to sell his home.

However, last weekend was a moment of looking towards the future. Despite the trials and tribulations, Ian expressed his gratitude. “The support from the community has been great.”

Few would have taken the two day trip down the river since the floods. Ian said the majority of the river was beautiful and clean, though it was not without reminders of the flood’s impact. Still he is hopeful for the future.

Views from the Paddlewheeler on the Hawkesbury River.

“We want to come back and start up again, and that benefits a lot of other businesses. We work together with coffee shops, hotels, and other business,” he said.

Member for the Hawkesbury, Robyn Preston said Burns personifies persistence and courage as a small business owner. “He has been determined to get the Paddlewheeler back up and running and it’s wonderful to see that he has managed to achieve this in spite of all the setbacks,” Preston said.

“Some of the challenges he has faced have been the construction of the new Windsor Bridge making it impossible for him to run his business from the wharf, heavy sand deposits preventing him from docking at the wharf and of course six floods in 18 months and the pandemic, which would be enough for any business to walk away from.”

“To be able to continue trading, he relocated his business to safer places where the river took him. He showed amazing stamina and determination through all this adversity and I’m so pleased he is finally able to relaunch this iconic tourist attraction in the Hawkesbury,” she said.

Hawkesbury MP Robyn Preston and Ian Burns on top of the Paddlewheeler to celebrate its return to Windsor.

When asked about the boat’s upcoming schedule, Ian revealed that bookings for the first weekend in December were already filling up, suggesting a promising return to operations.

The journey was documented through around hundreds of social media posts from people on the river banks watching the Paddlewheeler go by.

With the restoration of the boat, along with the return of its iconic journey’s, the Windsor Paddlewheeler is bringing a piece of history back to Windsor again.

For those interested in experiencing the Paddlewheeler, bookings are available for the first weekend in December, offering a chance to be a part of this boat’s remarkable journey.


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