November 18 - 24, 2012: Issue 85 

 MV Reliance

By Ann Howard

Specifications: Carvel planked with Kauri, and copper sheathed below the waterline, MV Reliance now has a fully serviced and operational 4 cylinder Ford Diesel engine, new running gear, electrical bypass surgery, a fresh coat of varnish and paint and is looking good and running well in current commercial survey 1E for 30 persons.  Bill Moseley, a previous owner, made a new tallow deck of 40mm by 22mm planks that had been coved out on the underside to resist warping.

The 'Mail Run'
MV Reliance was built by Goddards of Palm Beach in 1919 and commissioned for the Hawkesbury River passenger and mail run from Brooklyn to Wisemans Ferry via Spencer. It is credited with moving the first car from Newcastle across the Hawkesbury river in 1925 and in 1930's, Reliance ferried workers building the road to Wisemans, to camps at Haycock mountain.

The Reliance at Goddards, Palm Beach, 1919

In 1942 the mail contract was lost to Les Smith of Kincumber, The Reliance was sold by Tony Deas to his brother, Vince Deas.  It was later purchased by Mr Tremain and taken to the Nepean, to be skippered by 'Count' Lance O'Meagher, as an excursion boat.  After WWll, when she was commandeered by the Army and a wheelhouse was added, she was brought back to the Hawkesbury by Vince Deas as a passenger and cargo boat. The Reliance was then sold to George Cook of Mangrove Creek.  Mrs Cook continued The Reliance service after her husband's death until the old boat fell into disrepair.  Reg Handy from Mooney Mooney went into partnership with Mrs Cook and repaired her.  He used her as a passenger boat, carrying people from the Tropicana, Wilberforce for daily trips.  She was vandalised while moored at Wilberforce and taken back to the Lower Hawkesbury,  and sold by Mrs Cook for £3,000.  She was sold to the Outward Bound Movement. In 1972, the Outward Bound Movement was transferred and Holiday Camps of Australia purchased the property at Fisherman's Point and the boat. It then went to Knox.    

The Reliance with Wheelhouse added, 1945.

The 'School Run'
Warwick Deacock, first Director of the Outward Bound School, (founded in 1941, to try to ensure the survival of young sailors in the North Sea),  adopted Fisherman’s Point as the Australian home base  from 1959 until 1973.  Knox Grammar purchased the property in 1973, for the boys to work towards The Duke of Edinburgh Award.  In 1977, members of the NSW Outward Bound ex-Students Association organized a canoe race along the river where they had trained.  The 111km race raised money for medical research.  The first race attracted 250 paddlers and raised $8,500.  Now the race attracts more than 600 paddlers and raises annually in excess of $350,000. Reliance received a major refit and serviced Knox Camp on Fisherman's Point till 1995.  Note: Mark Farrell attended Knox from 1966 - 1978 , OKG78.

The Harbour Run
Sold to the previous Guardian, Bill Moseley, MV Reliance moved to Sydney Harbour and spent much time on the Lane Cove River up to the weir and river park until 2009.

Bobbin Head Cruises
Mark Farrell has now secured permission to operate within the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park from the NPWS and is now based at Bobbin Head. The  MV Reliance is happy about working again.

Pauline Deas: The Reliance is looking fabulous now.  My mother told me that when she was new, there were two mirrored pictures on the wheelhouse and toilet doors.  One was an Arnott's Sao Biscuits mirror, the other Gargoyle Oil.
Beverley Harris: My father had built a retreat on the Hawkesbury River, probably before I was born (in 1941), about 4 kms on the Brooklyn side of Spencer.  My family used to commute on The Reliance several times most years until the 1970s.  The trip took up to three hours.  At that time it was owned by Vincent and Manny Deas, who also had the General Store at Spencer.  We relied on this ferry to take us to Spencer every few days for fresh supplies.  
We mostly travelled by train from Epping to Brooklyn on Friday evenings and then joined The Reliance, which departed at about 7 pm for Spencer.  Friday was when all the river people travelled to Brooklyn in the early afternoon to have a beer at the famous pub, then return on the 7pm ferry.  These locals were usually in a generous mood on the way home, and I remember sitting on the steps down from the back of the boat, (aged about 6) and singing absolutely any old thing and they would all give me money - pocket money, to spend at the Spencer General Store.  I remember when my brother was a baby in the late 1940s, The Reliance used to deliver milk for him from Brooklyn, usually quite warm from sitting in the sun on the roof.  

Mark and Jools Farrell see themselves as custodians of The Reliance.  They undertake small, customised cruises on the Hawkesbury River in association with Banksia Ferry Cruises and on Pittwater. Mark can be contacted on: 0420 931 530 or Pittwater Ferry

Mark, the Skipper: She's the best boat on the river, with history, grace and style, fully refurbished and ready to dance. 

MV Reliance at Woody Point Putt Putt Regatta, 2012. Photo by A J Guesdon. 

About Ann Howard and her books

Following the poularity of A Ghost, a Murder & Other Dangar Tales and Ten Dry Pies & Other Dangar Tales, popular award winning author Ann Howard, from Dangar Island, has published Rainbow on the River and Other Dangar Tales and Derrymacash to Dangar.Rainbow has startling new historical facts eventuating from a chance meeting with a ninety year old lady who had lived on Dangar Island in the 1930s as a child, with original photographs. Derrymacash is a true account by a little girl living on the Island in the 1950s. Her Irish father had fled the Black and Tans. Her Scottish mother was strict, but she and her twin sister behaved as badly as they could manage. This charming, funny account also has original photographs.

Ann Howard has owned and renovated The Pavilion, on Dangar Island for about 40 years. It is the last remaining part of Dangar's original homestead, built in 1889.  Ann is a well published author, who has written four books on the history of Dangar Island and the Hawkesbury, which she loves.  She opens her house at weekends, where people can browse through old photographs and admire the antique furniture from the Dangar home, and she is completing a film about the history of the area.  Ann takes groups up river on the heritage ferries to Bar Island. Contact her on: 9955 2074/9985 7234, or write to: The Pavilion, Dangar Island 2083.
Books can be ordered from Ann Howard, or ph: 029955 2074.Rainbow is $25.00 +p+p $5.00. Derrymacash is $10.00 + p+p $3.00.

Ann Howard Book Review in the RAHS Journal

Ann Howard, a resident of Dangar Island for nearly 40 years has brought to life the history of this unique island in four lavishly illustrated books, describing its history from the arrival of the Dangar family and the building of their property, the construction of the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge - where American workers leased the island and built their own village, the effects of the two World Wars and the Depression to the island's eventual subdivision and settlement. The books incorporate interviews with island characters, stories of river craft and details of the animals, fish, birds and insects that inhabit this traffic free paradise. Rare historical photographs are included, amongst the many shots from family albums, together with extracts from Henry Dangar's letters, never published before. These books bring Dangar Island's past to life through the eyes of the people who have lived there. They will be treasured by people who have had an association with the island.

Copyright Ann Howard, 2012. All Rights Reserved. 

 Mark Farrell and MV Reliance taking part in the RMYC of Newport's Open of Boating Season celebrations, 2012.