08 February, 2013

The wreck of the Costa Del Fuego

In March last year, during a family ride along the Barwon through Geelong, we came across a vessel with the impressive name of the Costa Del Fuego. Contrary to what you might imagine, this was not an impressive motor launch or even a relic of the Barwon's 19th century past. It was in fact, a traditional Aussie raft, constructed from wooden pallets lashed to 44-gallon drums.

The Costa Del Fuego, March, 2012
Of course, I blogged about the Costa Del Fuego at the time, but over the intervening months continued to keep an eye on it. I soon discovered that it was moored on the east bank of the river, just below the Queen's Park Bridge, where it remained - with it's canopy lowered - for some weeks.
Moored at Queen's Park, May, 2012
I noticed eventually however, that the raft was no longer at its mooring. Nor did I ever see it in use again. Following minor flooding events first in May and then in August, I was out walking with the kids in early October, when I once again spotted the Costa Del, wedged amongst the willows just below the breakwater.

Under the willows at Breakwater
It was a little the worse for wear and certainly did not appear to have seen recent use. I could not tell whether it had wound up here, swept down by the earlier flood waters or whether it had been moved to this location (although I suspect the water may not have been deep enough to carry it over the break). Regardless, there it was and for some time, there it stayed.
Once again, I did not notice exactly when it disappeared, but when we took to the water at Breakwater for our first excursion downriver in the kayaks, it was not long before we came across some familiar remains.
The skeleton of the Costa Del Fuego and a White-faced Heron
Sadly, it bore only a passing resemblance to the proud vessel it had once been, with the three remaining drums held together by a few bent spars and pieces of the pallets strewn on the bank. The whole was overseen by a White-faced Heron which was standing guard atop one of the drums.
As of late January and my most recent foray down from the break, the skeletal remains were still languishing on the bank.
Fortunately for the cause of youthful initiative, the Costa Del Fuego is not the only example of its kind which I have seen in recent times. On 19th January as we paddled up from Baum's Weir to Merrawarp Road and back, I came across another raft. It also was a timber structure kept afloat by 44-gallon drums. Unfortunately for me, distance and a reasonable breeze made focusing difficult so, the shot is not the best, however I was able to capture a couple of images of the unknown craft.
Raft downstream of Merrawarp Road
Finally, in the interests of furthering the cause of the humble 44-gallon drum as it relates to Australian culture and technology, I offer the following example, seen on farmland above the lower breakwater:
The versatility of the 44-gallon drum

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