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HomeFeature - Logan StoryNew Historic Steamer: SS Walrus Mural

New Historic Steamer: SS Walrus Mural

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By Dr Graeme Nicholson

A new historic Steamer SS Walrus Mural has been installed at the Beenleigh Historical Village.

The Beenleigh Rum Distillery is the oldest registered distillery in Australia, and is a rare survivor of Australia’s early sugar industry.

It commenced operations in 1884 and was the legal successor to a floating moonshine still, the SS Walrus, which drifted between cane plantations and evading police in the 19th century.

The original proprietor, James Stewart, sold the boat’s still to local entrepreneurs including John Davy and Francis Gooding who named Beenleigh after their home in Devon, England.

These men used the equipment from the steamer to start the Beenleigh Rum Distillery. Between 1981 and 2005 a museum featuring displays on the history of sugar and rum production in the Beenleigh area was open at the distillery. The stills, vats and photos were relocated to the Beenleigh Historical Village where they are now on display in the George Harch Museum.

The Walrus was built at Cleveland by Taylor Winship and originally operated as a schooner. In 1869, it was taken over by the Pioneer Floating Sugar Company and fitted up for the economical production of sugar and rum.

‘Bosun Bill’, photo on left, is thought to have been named after Mr. James Stewart, the owner of the SS Walrus. Mr. Stewart was known locally as “The Bosun”. The figurine is also featured in the distillery display, complete with hundreds of tags attached around its neck with names of the places where ‘Bosun Bill’ has been shown.

The Beenleigh Historical Village and Museum is an open-air museum at 205 Main Street, Beenleigh. It preserves twenty buildings from Beenleigh’s past which contain many collections related to the history of this district.

Visit the Beenleigh Historical Village and Museum today and see the mural for yourself.

Open 7.30am to 3pm, P: (07) 3382 0608.

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