Port Molyneux and the Clutha/Mata-Au River has always been the central highway of the South, taking visitors and freight inland from the coast. Waka (Māori canoe) were followed by steam paddlers including the ‘Clutha’, the ‘Clyde’, the ‘Tuapeka’, the ‘Iona’, the ‘Matau’ and the ‘Balclutha’. But it hasn’t always been plain sailing. The ‘Tuapeka’ sunk in 1874. More traumatically, the ‘Clutha’s’ boiler exploded in 1919, badly scalding three men (one dying of his wounds a few days later). It seems a faulty water gauge caused the disaster.
The steamship age on the Clutha River came to an end in 1939, replaced by roads, bridges and trucks.