The Kiewa, named after the Aboriginal word for ‘sweet water’ was built in 1913 for prominent Perth surgeon William Trethowan, who became commodore of the Perth Yacht Club in the same year.
The 40-foot motor cruiser, which was launched in November 1913, was built by W and S Lawrence at their shipyard near the corner of Mounts Bay and Mill Point roads on the banks of the Swan River.
Restoring the proud old lady was more than a labour of love for Wanneroo resident Ron Lindsay, whose great-great-grandfather founded Lawrence shipbuilders, which later became W and S Lawrence.
When he bought Kiewa in 1993 she was little more than a shell.
After storing her in a shed on his Wanneroo property for almost 15 years, he consigned her to Fremantle for five years of restoration work.
‘A lot of people told me all she would be good for was firewood,’ Ron said. ‘There were a few times when I thought ‘what am I doing’ but she turned out every bit as good as we had hoped. She glides through the water beautifully, smooth and quiet ” she’s a real gentleman’s launch.’
Ron said he hoped the restored Kiewa would inspire more interest in the early history of the Swan River Colony.
‘I think we should be teaching more of Perth’s early history in schools,’ he said. ‘She’s the very embodiment of the early history of the Swan River Colony.’