Wentworth Tourism

Regional Drives

32. Fotherby Park

Fotherby Park is a Wentworth Rotary Club project, originally developed to house the Paddlesteamer Ruby. A founding member of Rotary in Wentworth, Frank Fotherby, was the prime mover in Rotary’s decision to purchase P.S. Ruby. Unfortunately, he died just prior to the completion of this park, which was then named Fotherby Park in his honour. There are many items of historical significance on display at the Park including;

i. The Paddlesteamer Ruby
Built at Morgan, S.A., in 1907, she was the 4th paddle-steamer to be called ‘Ruby’. She transported passengers and cargo between Echuca, Mildura, Wentworth and Goolwa. After a long and busy life, Ruby slowly fell into disrepair, ending her days as a houseboat at Mildura. Ruby was purchased by the Rotary Club of Wentworth in 1968 and was dry docked in Fotherby Park, as a reminder of the riverboat era. In 1995, the Rotary Club handed ownership to the Wentworth community, in the trusteeship of the Wentworth Shire Council. In 1996 a Restoration Committee was formed from representatives of local organisations and the Wentworth Shire Council. Six years and 1000’s of volunteer hours later, Ruby had a brand new hull and she was returned to water in a dock pond. Excitement grew as the steam engine became operational. She was all steamed up for her 100th Birthday in 2007. Restoration work takes place on PS Ruby on various days. The workers welcome visitors on board our steamer to see their progress – you will be amazed!

ii. Wentworth’s First Court House – McClymonts Cottage
This old building of drop slab construction and now standing in the park originally stood in lower Darling Street but faced Darling Lane. It was dismantled and rebuilt at its present site as a Wentworth Rotary Club project. Research, conducted by Mr Jeff Whyte, revealed that Simon McDonald, Wentworth’s first Police Sergeant, resided in the house in 1860 and it had also been used as a Court House pending construction of another building in 1863. A monstrous peppercorn tree spreads over the original site of the cottage.

iii. The Man called “Possum”
A life size statue of a man known as ‘Possum’, who when disgruntled by life during the Great Depression took to living off the land in and around Wentworth. He slept in trees (thus the name), walked many miles, swam the rivers, living the life of a hermit and avoided human contact for some 50 years before his death at the age of 81 years. A proud man, ‘Possum’ worked for the graziers in exchange for food and clothing, although he would always wait until the folk had left for town before he began his work. He was known to upset some of the property owners when he would let their dogs loose because he felt sorry for them. You can hear his story via voca-phone by placing a 20c coin in the metal box near the statue.