THE CROC BOAT STORY
These two boats, nicknamed 'Kath & Kim', were built in 1989 by members of the Atherton Rotary Club, supervised by Bill Suter and Rob Leht, as special event vessels to promote FNQ's hosting of the National Paddle Competition at Lake Tinaroo. They are North Queensland's version of the traditional Chinese Dragon boats, but far more robust & parochial. The boats were paddled regularly at Lake Tinaroo for some time, especially during Tinaburra Water Sports Festivals, gaining widespread admiration for their bespoke design and construction.
Their use diminished over the years and the boats were relocated to Townsville in 2006, where they were lovingly restored by Norm Souter-Smith in 2007 and "the girls" became flagships for Dragons Abreast, a club set up for survivors of breast cancer. The Croc Boats, each paddled by 12 ladies, were ideal exercise and recuperation platforms.
In 2011 custodianship of the Croc Boats passed to the Wooden Boat Association of Cairns (WBAC) and they became instrumental in the establishment of a new Cairns based Dragons Abreast club, providing regular Sunday paddle sessions on Trinity Inlet. Unable to compete with new light-weight fibreglass Dragon boats, 'Kath & Kim' faced early retirement, but their charisma prevails.
The boats were stored for several years at the WBAC club site in Tingira St, but the club was unable to provide suitable shelter for them, and wished them to be appreciated by the public.
In 2017, WBAC initiated a search for a new home, capable of acknowledging and preserving the history and provenance of these boats on the Atherton Tablelands!
The Historic Village Herberton was contacted and they offered to provide a permanent home for the boats where they can be properly housed and displayed. As part of the heritage of the tablelands this is the most suitable place for the boats.
On Saturday Dec 2nd 2017, “Kath and Kim” these iconic hand carved wooden Croc Boats, were transferred to their new home at the Historic Village Herberton, where they can be seen today, near the children’s playground. Apparently, the boats provide very popular photo opportunities for children standing between them!