American River’s proposal to establish the historic Falie sailing ship as an interpretive maritime museum is on the backburner.
It is more than two years since the American River Progress Association, with support from Tourism Kangaroo Island and other agencies, put together a business plan to have the Falie moved to the town’s wharf.
Resident Allan Miell initiated the idea and said it was still possible. He said sources within the Transport Department had told him at the time to “get a semi and get the stored gear [for the Falie] picked up straight away”.
Since then he believes the department has been lobbied to keep the ship at Port Adelaide.
A report in The Advertiser this week said the Falie would never go to sea again unless a wealthy benefactor could find $3 million to rebuild its hull.
The 90-year-old Falie holds a special place for Kangaroo Island. It was in service from 1968 to 1962, bringing cargo and fuel to the island, before being retired.
“Port Adelaide is the wrong place for it,” Mr Miell said. “It won’t attract extra tourism there. Here it would attract tourists and bring income and jobs to the town.”
“I believe it could be made seaworthy for less than $3 million. There is more than one way to do these things. We just need some people in the department to think outside the square,” Mr Miell said.
Progress association president David Cowans said the business plan was still on the table for an interpretive centre and possibly a café, restaurant and accommodation on board.
“We would love it to be a feature of the town,” he said. “Even if it was brought here as a static exhibit. It means a lot to the people of Kangaroo Island and we could do it with some support.”
“In fact, we would also like to build a replica of the Independence, a boat built here by American sealers in 1803. Then we’d have the makings of a good maritime attraction,” Mr Cowans said.
He said the association had had preliminary talks with the Port Adelaide Maritime Museum some time ago.
A spokeswoman from the Department of Premier and Cabinet could not rspond in time.