Shoalhaven Riverwatch has paid homage to its founding father.
Former professional fisherman Charlie Weir started the organisation in the early 1980s and has been a passionate advocate for the environment ever since.
In the middle of last year Charlie, who has propagated and planted 100,000 mangroves and 25,000 casuarina trees along more than seven kilometres of the Shoalhaven riverbank, handed over the baton to Peter Jirgens.
Despite staying on as a patron of the organisation, in a final passing gesture Charlie donated his beloved boat to the group.
During the quieter winter period, the group undertook major maintenance work on its “mother ship” which it uses to carry out a lot of its work.
“During the work we decided we could also upgrade Charlie’s boat and give it a facelift,”
Mr Jirgens said.
“We initially thought it would take four guys about half a day to clean it up and repaint.”
But the job turned out to be bigger than first thought with closer inspection finding the superstructure had rotted out.
“It ended up taking four guys about six days to fix it up,” Mr Jirgens said.
Volunteers Tony Innes, Keith Hazlewood, Roy Davey, Ron Cowlishaw, Bill Dowdell and Pete Johnson all worked on the rebuild.
The group relaunched the boat on Tuesday with Charlie special guest to see it back in the water.
His longtime supporter and Riverwatch treasurer John Tait was given the honour of officially commissioning the craft by scattering collected mangrove seeds into the boat.
“I don’t believe it looks that good,” Mr Weir said.
“I donated it to the group so it can spend the rest of its life on the river.
“It did so much with me over the years. It looks great.”
Mr Jirgens and his band of willing volunteers have continued Charlie’s amazing work.
Regular working bees this year have seen more trees planted and 400 metres of “Shoalhaven Super Sand Sausage” installed along riverbanks to prevent further erosion and provide bank stability for trees.
The organisation is a not for profit and non-political, relying heavily on grants to continue its wonderful work.
The group has branched out, holding fundraising events and has another planned for Sunday, December 18 where it has partnered with the Bundanon Trust to host a concert with American entertainer Steve Poltz at Riversdale.
Poltz, a singing and songwriting troubadour, is on his Nothing to Declare Australian Tour.
Gates open from 5pm and cost is $35.
“It should be a great concert,” said chairman Peter Hanson.
“If you haven’t organised a Christmas party for this year or just want to get some friends together before Christmas, here’s your chance.”
If you would like to join Shoalhaven Riverwatch and help with its activities contact Peter Jirgens on 0488 460011 or email firstname.lastname@example.org