Longreach has become one of the country's largest cruising ports after the 100-year-old paddlewheeler, Pride of the Murray, officially made its maiden voyage in western Queensland.
Nearly 28,000 travellers are expected to cruise the Thomson River this season after Richard Kinnon moved the 100 tonne, 25 metre and Pride of the Murray some 1750 km from Echuca to Longreach.
Tourism operators Outback Pioneers will now welcome the equivalent of 14 P&O cruise ships full of passengers this year alone.
"If you'd said to me a year ago that dusty, old Longreach would become a cruising hub in Australia, I would have laughed, but after all the coverage and people seeing her on the way up from Echuca we've been overwhelmed with bookings," Mr Kinnon said.
"It feels as though everyone who saw her on the road wants to come up to see how she looks back in the water after some restoration work.
"The response has been record-breaking. We've taken bookings this week for two years out.
"The Pride of the Murray 'Lido' deck might not have a spa like those big ships, but she makes up for that in stories and history. Imagine if these decks could talk. From the deck you look across Australia's striking outback and most magic rivers.
"With every Starlight's Cruise Experience, cruise we throw in a memorable sunset, a million stars, Australian wildlife, bush poetry, the swaying Coolabah trees, a stockman's dinner and loads of laughs."
Nearly 30 boat specialists in Longreach worked on the vessel to make it cruise-ready including re-corking and tarring the entire giant hull by hand using a 2000-year-old boat technique still used today.
"The Pride of the Murray now looks as good as the day she was first launched," Mr Kinnon said.
"She has undergone full safety checks; the paint has been touched up and she's had a clean and polish throughout.
"The team has worked from dawn to dusk and in ten days it ensured the Pride of the Murray was ship-shape to welcome her first passengers aboard tomorrow."
Longreach Mayor, Tony Rayner said the Pride of the Murray's journey to the region had ignited everyone's interest with many wanting to hop on board.
"I think the whole town has bought a ticket to welcome the Pride of the Murray," he said.
"I have to admit, when Richard first floated his dream of bringing it Longreach, I thought he was mad.
"To do what Richard has done has been colossal. He certainly proves the Longreach pioneering spirit is alive and well.
"To give some perspective - Richard managed to move a 26 metre long, nearly nine metre wide, 106 wheel trailer, truck and an antique, 100-year-old timber boat from the tip of England to the top of Scotland and almost back again."
Councillor Rayner said everyone in town had reported an upswing in bookings since the Pride of the Murray left Echuca.
"Its journey generated so much interest in the region, we've all benefited," he said.
"In western Queensland, attracting more tourists is akin to good rain, it makes things grow, and the Pride of the Murray will attract potentially an extra 100 guests per day over the course of a season.
"This means, over the next five years, it will generate jobs and potentially inject an estimated extra $82 million into the region."
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