At American River, Kangaroo Island a group of dedicated volunteers are rebuilding the 'Independence'. KI Garden Club went along to find out more.

RIG: The rebuilding of the 'Independence', now well under way, as the group observed whilst seated around the timber hull. Photo: Steve Howell.
RIG: The rebuilding of the 'Independence', now well under way, as the group observed whilst seated around the timber hull. Photo: Steve Howell.

Recently, 34 KI Garden Club members and visitors pooled cars for an interesting visit to American River to inspect and learn about the RIG project undertaken by the Rebuild Independence Group.

The project is well underway in the big shed adjacent to the American River wharf.

Project co-ordinators were on hand to inform the group and answer questions.

The first speaker, Bob Imeson, a former boat builder in steel, spoke of the re-building of the Independence, now well under way, as the group observed whilst seated around the timber hull.

A sketch including the sail structure was handed around.

The estimated finish time is about three years.

The boat will then be able to carry up to 20 passengers for sightseeing in enclosed waters. It will be capable of travelling as far as Hobart with no passengers onboard.

Greg Roberts spoke of the history of the Union and Independence and the various encounters at sea in the early 1800s, all of which is well displayed inside the shed for visitors to read at their leisure.

Tony Klieve spoke of the history of American River with photos showing the industries that received or sent goods from the American River Wharf.

These were kindly supplied by former harbour master, Ian King.

David Churchill was also on hand to answer questions.

The project will not ‘go broke’ as they have enough money in the bank to continue, but still need funding. Many items of machinery have been donated. Interested people can ‘buy a plank’ and have their name engraved on it for a cost of $20. 

The Garden Club donated $40 from funds for two named planks. Donor’s names are on timber replica planks displayed on the shed wall, and will later also be on the finished boat.

The Club showed their appreciation to the speakers for their dedication, after it took three years to get the final permission to proceed with the project.

A delicious, well-presented lunch was eaten in the comfort of the adjacent Deck Café.

The diners experienced scenic views through the café windows with the sun shining through the rain onto the glistening waters of Pelican Lagoon, with a rainbow in the distance.

Before the homeward journey, several enjoyed a drive around the neat township, also inspecting the progress on the American River Hall upgrade.

New members and visitors are always welcome at the Garden Club.

Meetings details are published in The Islander’s community events calendar.