Well-known family business, Peel’s Cruises, is in the lead up to its 100th birthday, which will be celebrated on December 14, 2020.
Barrie Peel’s grandfather, Harold, established the business in Lakes Entrance after moving from Melbourne in 1919.
He and his brother had a boat-building business in the West Melbourne canals and among many projects designed and built the first Jubilee yachts for the Royal Melbourne Yacht Club. They also built the Tunnel of Love at Luna Park.
Peel’s Cruises is not only known for their informative tourist cruises, but their support to charitable organisations is notable.
Recently they have hosted the American firefighters with a cruise to Metung, which was greatly appreciated on their day off from containing bushfires. They are regular supporters of the Cooper Trewin Foundation and also hosted Samuel Johnson with his foundation ‘Love Your Sister’ late last year.
As with many businesses in Lakes Entrance the bushfires have had a severe effect on Peel’s Cruises.
“A business like ours relies on tourists, mainly, so we have had a 90 per cent downturn over the Christmas period,” Barrie said.
“This town is lucky that a bushfire situation like this hasn’t affected Lakes Entrance so badly before.
“You can never make up for loss like this in January.”
Barrie has been heartened by the number of Probus clubs that have been in contact in recent weeks to assure him they will be down in the future to boost the town.
“The Rye Football Club got in touch and said they will visit, corporate groups and even 37 members of the Retired Bank Managers Group. It is just wonderful there is so much support,” Barrie said.
Barrie is proud of the Peel’s group of cruisers and the history that goes with them.
They had the Thunderbird built in 1985 at Bull’s Shipyards, in Metung, under licence to Incat Australia. It took 23 weeks to build and was the first commercial catamaran in Victoria.
Since 1928 all the boats have been named with ‘bird’ in them. Currently there is the Thunderbird, Seabird and Storm Bird.
Barrie has been battling ill health in recent years and wanted to express his thanks to his wife, Cheryl, and son, James, for their care and attention and for keeping the Peel’s Cruises steaming ahead towards their 100th birthday.
IMAGE: Owner of iconic Lakes Entrance business, Peel’s Cruises which celebrates its 100th birthday later this year Barrie Peel said the bushfires have hit his business, like most, hard, however has been heartened by commitments made by clubs and groups from beyond the region who will take a cruise in the coming weeks and months.