Maurice Furlan's story

From a houseboat builder to a single father.


Now back in the early days of the Botel proposal the Crown Lands Office intervened and caused a great deal of confusion. Their intervention was most untimely and you can read more about it here. 

Crown Lands insisted on a Special Lease of a section of river to guarantee tenure for the Botel. They indicated that a Permissive Occupancy (mooring) could be terminated at any time because it was a "Tenancy at will" of the Maritime Minister. And so back in early 1990 the Minister must have terminated mooring WS012 according to the NOTICE (5). However you the reader can check my correspondence from that time and you will not find any such letter which have indicated that WS012 had been terminated. Therefore the NOTICE cannot be genuine because it relied on the termination of WS012 having already taken place. 

Earlier in 2017 I managed to obtain the mobile phone number of the former Maritime Minister. He denied any knowledge of these matters. Instead he said that his chiefs of staff handled those matters. He contradicted the Crown Lands advice about the "Tenancy at Will". Here is a screenshot of text message about this topic (6). 

In any event my correspondence from Minister for Lands indicated that my Special Lease Application was not ever granted. If that were TRUE then the second entry in the Wakool Shire "Register of Development Applications" about the Botel Development Application must UNTRUE (7) and also FRAUDULENT(8). The information which revealed a second register entry information was reluctantly provided by the shire in 2013 following an earlier Freedom of Information request. Read more about the SHIRE FRAUDS.

There is further evidence that either the mooring or the lease was not terminated because Google Maps reports it's location. It is shown and referred to as MURRAY RIVER RESERVE-non pv (Parks Victoria) on the map of Barham-Koondrook (9). Recently, a manager of Parks Victoria indicated that NSW MARITIME control part of that area on the Victorian side. It is most likely the mooring or the lease. That is supported by a Google moderator who wrote that the description of .... non-pv on a Google map does fall within their rules (10)

Two documents are shown above. Both bear the signature of Captain John Hensford. In 1988, he had approved of me constructing my commercial vessels. And yet in 1990 he ordered them off the river. As I did not comply he then seized them. The large vessel was much too large to be removed and so his agents destroyed it. However they managed to lift the other one onto a truck and tow it away. 

The approval process had lost its way.

In mid 1988 and still with no resolution we began building the large houseboat. Push came to shove and once again Maritime acted properly. Captain John Hensford approved our construction as a commercial marine development. He added that the houseboats were not botel units

Despite having lost the battle council (aka consenting authority) blockaded the area and stopped a crane from lifting the dome section. 

Then Hensford sided with council and sent this "NOTICE" which ordered the botel units be removed from the river. 

He wrote that he cancelled our houseboat mooring. Today however, it still appears on google maps. It's location is shown by the blue marker on the map below. Anyone can view the mooring site on Google Maps where it is hidden under the description "River Murray Reserve (Non-pv)". Parks Victoria (pv) say they do not manage that area. They say NSW Maritime manage the the reserve but there is no maritime activity there.

I am also told that "Non-pv" is outside Google's rules for describing features and this is currently being addressed by Google.

I can't wait to hear the outcome ! 

I am seeking legal opinion for making a substantial claim for damages because of deliberate government maladministration. This could eventuate if the evidence presented herein is sufficient to show that there was prior approval given for commercial marine ventures in NSW. If proven the events would also warrant reporting in the public interest.

The Furlan family sought permission to construct houseboats on the Murray River. We registered Waterhouse Enterprises in 1986 for that purpose. They were commonplace however; our plan to build large floating houses was novel. We sought commercial licenses from the NSW Maritime Services Board (MSB).

We assembled our first small houseboat on the river in 1987. MSB issued a mooring license on the Victorian riverbank. We proceeded to build our second and larger vessel in 1988 and Captain John Hensford (MSB Regional Manager) gave written approval to continue construction on the NSW riverbank. He then cancelled our mooring license and served NOTICE to remove the vessels from the river. Council and Maritime officials then seized both vessels. They sold the small one and destroyed the the large partly constructed dome vessel in 1990. 

During those four years, we lost our life savings of $50K. In today’s terms, that equates to a nice riverside home. 

This video shows documentation relating to the project. They include news reports, correspondence, registrations,  accounts and parliamentary records. NSW Authorities claim they legally destroyed their records in 1988.

This extract is part of a SPECIAL NEWSHOUR REPORT televised by TV8 Swan Hill on August 3,1987. TV8 knew that it was not intended to locate the botel marina there. Barham Progress Association supported botel but wanted it relocated away from School of Arts Hall because of car parking issues. Jack Keck was the treasurer of the association. He was owner of the commercial houseboat Shady Lady which operated from there. Peter Drummond was the Shire Health Inspector. He was not a qualified Town Planner as claimed in the report

View from the bridge over the Murray River at Barham/Koondrook in !988.  It shows (from top left to bottom right) the commercial houseboat Shady Lady then part owned by Cr. Alan Keck, Wakool Shire and Treasurer of Barham Progress Association. The business closed and it was leaving the area in mid 1988 after arriving in 1985.

Centre is the 1986 Botel Marina Project the subject of this website. Barkoona and its permanently moored pontoon landing (approved in 1987) is on the right in the foreground. 

The Botel vessels are tied up next to the council caravan park at the river end of Noorong Street. It was moved across the river to the Barkoona mooring where it was seized and destroyed by NSW Maritime officials in 1990 from Victoria. No physical evidence remains of it.  

This YouTube clip was uploaded by visitors. It shows botel bend site from the southern end of Noorong St. The area of interest is submerged and the willow trees have been removed. Large amounts of heavy sand have been brought in to enlarge the sandbar.

bla bla

I began 2017 with a request to meet with then NSW Premier Mike Baird and his Maritime Minister Duncan Gay. The purpose of the meeting was to present them with evidence of 'criminal theft' by NSW maritime officers. Mike Baird's father Bruce was the responsible Minister at the time. They seized two houseboats (pictured above) which were the property of the Furlan family.

Both Premier Baird and Duncan Gay have now left their roles. Baird claimed that he needed to spend more time with his family however it was not long after that he took up another demanding role in banking. I believe they both left because of this scandal.

Bruce Baird has denied any knowledge of the houseboat commercial venture as is evidenced in these messages. He confirms he has read this letter however he denies any previous knowledge of it and its reference to 'Action 2070'. 

Four years ago, I discovered the Smithson Planning website. It describes the major planning projects previously undertaken by these WA town planners. Their claim about a Boatel project on the Edwards River in NSW is fraudulent and it is evidence of the 'criminal maladministration' by previous government officials and politicians. 

According to many present day NSW officials, they claim that the records about these matters were legally destroyed. They have implied in emails that the documents possessed by Maurice and which are presented on this website are fraudulent because they cannot be verified on the their records. 

It should be realised that Maurice has contacted these officials to seek their help to have maritime acknowledge the injustice and make good the damage which was done. It is sad that they maintain the coverup.

Here is a very brief story about the boats which belonged to the Furlan family. They wanted to build and live aboard a large houseboat on the Murray River. They hoped to construct and sell and rent the vessels on a commercial basis. After 6 months of negotiations with numerous authorities, they invested their life savings into the venture. They purchased two house kits and a large quantity of preformed steel components for 34 pontoons. They assembled two vessels over two years.

Maritime issued a license 6 months after the first boat was built. Maritime gave written construction consent for the large boat 6 months after its construction was begun. 2 years followed and the Regional Manager, who had earlier consented, then cancelled the license, served NOTICE and seized the vessels. These events destroyed the Furlan family. 

 more reading ....


The idea of using the houseboat as part of a botel created a great deal of fear amongst motel and houseboat owners along the Murray river. The governments of the day sided with them even though the fear was unwarranted. Many officials are guilty of gross misconduct and maladministration. They left our family destitute.

However, in 1990, he changed his mind and served a NOTICE under NSW Maritime Services Act 1935 sec 13U(2) - Obstruction of Waterway. He cancelled the mooring licence and ordered the "botel units" be removed from the river. The penalty for failing to comply was 4 Penalty Units ie about $100.

Captain David Sherring replaced Hensford and  he led maritime and council officers in seizing the vessels. They destroyed the large one in order to remove it from the river. It now seems the remaining vessel had become the property of Captain Paddy Hogg in Swan Hill in 1993. 

Here is a report of the so called official Botel seizure. 

The NSW Maritime Minister when these events took place was Bruce Baird MP, father of  NSW Premier Mike Baird MP. Together with Bob Carr MP, Jim Small MP, Mathew Singleton MP and many others, he was a party to the criminal theft and destruction of the vessels shown above. If the evidence presented here is sufficient to show this was criminal; then the matter should be prosecuted in court.

Here is a challenge to the current media organisations to report this story in the public interest.

In 1988, Captain John HENSFORD, Regional Manager NSW Maritime Services Board (MSB) approved the construction as part of a commercial marine venture. He informed Wakool council that the houseboats were NORMAL vessels and not BOTEL units. Bruce Baird MP was the NSW Transport Minister at the time. 

In 1990, HENSFORD ) served this - Notice - Maritime Services Act 1935 under section 13 U (2) of the Act; requiring the removal of the vessels. That section concerns the Obstruction of Waterway, however, there was no obstruction to the river as can clearly be seen.

Nevertheless, maritime and council officials confiscated the vessels. The local papers falsely  reported the event claiming they were BOTEL units. Officials destroyed the large unfinished houseboat (left) and moved the other to Swan Hill. There 1n 1993 they disguised it as Paddy Hoggs Wharf. 

In recent times, (2012) a West Australian Town Planning Company published some information on their That information has revealed the reason why Karen abandoned our marriage. It resulted in lengthy Family Law proceedings which was meant to prevent further actions in the NSW Land and Environment Court. Sadly, she passed away in 1994 at age 30

The picture above was taken in 1988. It shows two houseboats during the construction of the large vessel. At that time they were located on the NSW bank of the Murray River at Barham.  

Exhibit 7 - is the only public notice of Wakool Development Application. 

Exhibit 8 - is the approved Crown Land Lease which related to the separate Botel Application. It authorized the Botel being on the river.

According to the Tim Moore letter (Exhibit 1) to Deputy Premier Wal Murray, the "botel" was "designated" development and required rezoning of the riverbed. However we sought commercial marine approval and also lodged the formal Wakool Development Application (1/87) long before the NSW Planning Minister Bob Carr was able to create the Act which "designated" the project.

I request Messrs Blair, Stokes and Toole to provide proof that NSW rejected the above applications !

This is the dishonest NSW Parliament account of the matter. 

3 188 BARHAM BOATEL -10 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY.

Mr SMALL (Murray) [4.20]: seek to talk about a development on waterways-in this case a boatel on the Murray River at the township of Barham within my electorate. The construction of a floating motel on the river waters is creating problems for and concern to many people in the area. A formal application, which I was requested to support, was made to the Wakool shire council in early 1987 in the name of Waterhouse Enterprises. At the time the application was made I took the matter up with the Minister. The development is on the New South Wales side of the Murray River, upstream of the town of Barham, along a beautiful sandbar. At that point the Murray is very narrow [ 10 ]. The boatel is designed to contain 15 floating units on seven pontoons located on each side of the central recreation and house type unit. Being upstream of the town, the development will endanger the town's water supply by polluting and contaminating it [ 8 ]. It will be necessary for the boatel development to be connected to a sewage disposal depot [ 13 ]. Since the local people have realized the consequences of this type of facility being built they have raised many objections to it. The Barham Progress Association has come out strongly against the development since it was started, expressing the worries of the citizens of the town. The Murray Valley Water Diverters Association has objected to the proposal. The Murray Valley League and the Murray-Darling Basin Commission 492 493 have objected to the proposal. The local public have presented a petition bearing 270 signatures against the proposal. After all the protests that the Wakool shire council has received, it has now called for an environmental impact study and as Waterhouse Enterprises has not already undertaken such a study, the council now opposes the development. The application, if implemented, would create a precedent. 213 Nowhere on the Murray River is there such a floating vessel permanently anchored in one spot. As I mentioned, this is a very narrow section of the river. If it had been located further down the river where there are small weirs and the watercourse is broad, it would not cause such a serious problem. The proposed development, in its present location, would clearly block a fair proportion of the river and could create problems for other users. I am disappointed that at this stage the Maritime Services Board has not objected to the structure. I suppose there is provision for granting a marine licence to permit the anchoring of a large vessel or houseboat or similar watercraft, 386 387 but the only construction undertaken by the developer so far is in the form of pontoons, which are floating vessels. Structures are to be placed on these pontoons to provide accommodation. I am pleased that the Minister for Administrative Services and Assistant Minister for Transport 414 is at the table, for I know he understands the area, having previously been Minister for Water Resources. Mr DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member has exhausted his time for speaking.


Waterhouse Enterprises started in 1986 as a small family business constructing houseboats on the Murray River at Barham/Koondrook. It had equity of $50K, equivalent to a nice riverside home in today's terms. The idea of floating houses was not new however the the plan to use them as a chain of BOTEL MARINAS was novel and it remains unprecedented to this day. 

By 1989, corruption and maladministration had left the family penniless and embroiled in the NSW Land and Environment Court. During this time our solicitors divided us. They persuaded Karen (wife) to abandon the marriage and bitter family law proceedings followed. The maternal grandparents sought custody of the child of the marriage after their daughter sadly passed away in 1995. he was 30. That legal action interrupted further botel proceedings until recently. In 2012, a google search revealed the full extent of government scandals held secret for 30 years. It provides the hidden link between interstate politics, courts, local and state governments. The role played by the Ministers of Crown Lands, NSW Maritime and NSW Planning can now be proved.

The 2012 secret appeared on the website. They are  town planners from WA. They claim that the NSW Planning Department contracted them to advise Wakool Council about a Development Application and Environmental Impact Statement relating to a BOTEL project back in the late 1980's. Smithson claim the project was located on the Edward River near the town of Wakool in NSW. Applications under freedom of information (GIPA in NSW) have forced council to deny that there was an application on the Edwards River. Council admit that they destroyed files about a similar application on the Murray River in 1988. Bob Carr was the minister for Planning and Environment at the time. He played a major role in misdirecting the approvals away from the maritime authorities towards the council. He had greater control there because of his DRAFT Murray region Environment Plan. Bruce Baird was Maritime Minister. He is the father of the current NSW Premier, Mike Baird.  

The Wakool Shire Register of Development Applications contains fraudulent entries about the development application. The partly constructed project is shown above (right) located on the Murray River at the southern end of Noorong Street at Barham, NSW. Earlier, NSW MARITIME approved the large houseboat design in 1986. In 1987 they issued an Occupancy License and in 1988 they gave COMMERCIAL construction approval. Nevertheless, local and state government officials seized the vessels and revoked MARITIME LICENCES. In 1990, they destroyed the larger vessel (left). They sold the smaller vessel to recover their costs. It seems that it was taken to Swan Hill during divorce proceeding in the Family Court of Australia. It's pontoons rusted through and it became Paddy Hogg's Wharfe in 1993. It is located on the NSW side of the Murray River in the vicinity of the Murray Downs Golf/Residential/Pokie Club development.

For the purposes of the Botel Development, the large dome shape vessel was intended to be used as the BOTEL MARINA Reception/Restaurant . The smaller houseboat was the first of many units which were designed to attach alongside each other providing much needed tourist accommodation.

Council placed this official notice in the local newspaper and the paper published this front page report. This register entry is numbered 1/87 and it is fraudulent because it shows that council REFUSED the application. In fact, Council did not refuse it and instead wrote to Bob Carr the NSW Planning Minister to take over administration as described in this newspaper report of February 1988. The report of a letter by Bob Crawford, the then mayor contradicts the register entry. A second register entry appears much later in the Register and it is numbered 13/88. It shows that Crown Lands had legally signed on as joint applicants. 


Welcome guys and thanks for visiting the Botel website. It aims to name and shame a group of past politicians. Some remain in positions of trust and power. Their own signatures on documents will verify the accusations made. Some of the accused are shown left.

Living aboard houseboats has had a long history. It is commonplace all around the world. In populated areas such as ports, maritime regulations generally control them. In remote waterways the regulations are less restrictive. 

Originally, my wife Karen and I sought approvals to establish a commercial marine enterprise. We wanted to build, live aboard and later sell a very large houseboat on the Murray River at Barham, NSW. 

We registered Waterhouse Enterprises in 1986. NSW maritime approved our design plan and specifications (Plan Approval 6106) for these relocatable vessels. We planned to use prefabricated dome shaped buildings from Glencor Industries in SA which were known as Hexadomes. The two storey 144 M2 building was to be built over a large steel hull. 

NSW Maritime Services Board were reluctant to issue licences to us. Maritime claimed that our houseboats warranted major policy consideration. The local Wakool Shire Council further hindered the process due to the lack of an Effluent Pump-out Station in the area. This was despite there being four houseboats in the area.  The Public Works Department had promised to build a pumpout station but had not delivered. (more...)

Some months later, Captain Stacey revealed the real reason to us. At that time, Bob Carr headed the NSW Planning Department and he wanted to control  Murray River development. The department was in the process of preparing a Draft Murray Region Environment Plan. It would address issues relating to Riparian Lands and river access. 

Meanwhile licensed NSW clubs attracted many visitors to the river towns because poker machines were outlawed in neighbouring state of Victoria.. There was very high demand for accommodation and tourist amenity. We planned to place small botels in locations visible from the bridges crossing the Murray River and in close proximity to these clubs.  The beauty of our plan was in its financial viability compared to that of motels and houseboats. The mooring fees were minuscule compared to council rates on motels. The expected accommodation fees charged to botel patrons could have been much lower than houseboat hire and motel accommodation.

Minister Bob Carr wrote to us with advice on getting approval. We followed it not knowing that he was determined that we would not get it. He was secretly putting pressure the authorities to stall our plans until he could get his plan through the NSW Parliament. He disliked the idea of people living on boats permanently as councils could not obtain rates from them and mooring fees were relatively inexpensive. A parallel and similar history of this had occurred on Sydney harbour at Pearl Bay. 

We went public and soon gained local support for our proposal of a chain of Botels along the Australia's famous Murray River which would offer tourist amenity and public environmental facilities in lieu of rates. We got written unanimous support from all those at Barham. They saw the benefits of a new industry based at Barham and council showed they were prepared to go against Bob. 

We were elated and committed our sizable life savings to the project but lost it all. The parties reneged and conspired to hide the official evidence of their original support, rewrite the history and remove the physical evidence of the vessels from Barham. Their actions destroyed our lifestyle, our mental health and ultimately Karen's life at age 30. We put up a good fight for 4 years but eventually Karen sold her own soul and lost her life at age 30.

  • Here is the written and published support of the local residents association.
  • Here is the written support from the local MP Jim Small together with confirmation that he believed NSW Maritime had jurisdiction for commercial maritime development. 
  • Here is the published report of council  in principle approval for the project.
  • Here is proof of mooring.
  • Here is Maritime consent for construction of houseboats.

Not long ago, a vital clue surfaced which links the actions of Bob Carr (ex Australian Foreign Minister, former NSW Premier and Former Planning minister) and Bruce Baird (father of Mike Baird the NSW Premier and then Transport Minister) to the destruction of the Botel project and also to our family breakdown through the 8 years from 1986 - 90 - 94.

This site will be constantly changing  as more and more documents are linked into the intricate story. I hope you will check in regularly should you want to discover how your media, parliaments and courts really work behind their public facades of truth, honour and justice.


The paddle steamer PS Emmylou was built at Barham NSW at Hume Coleville's Engineering yard. She was launched in 1982 with great fan fare. At 30 meters in length and weighing 100 ton she was able to navigate her way to Echuca with an outboard motor bolted to her stern. She arrived there without paddles and wheelhouse. When completed she played a starring role in the television miniseries ‘All the rivers run’ as the fictional paddle steamer PS Providence.

About the same time Maurice Furlan arrived at Echuca having just begun his intended lifelong working holiday around Australia. He had modernized a 1963 bus into a comfortable mobile home. He considered himself fortunate to be part of Emmylou’s construction and when she began taking passengers, he stayed on as part of the crew.

His journey then brought him to Barham to visit some of the great people he had met through Emmylou. He had grown to love the river and he was in no great hurry to move on. Working as a bar and pokie machine attendant it was not long before Maurie met Karen, a local girl and they married in 1984.


In 1985, a houseboat hire business began operation at Barham. The Shady Lady was part owned by Alan Keck and he had grand plans for expansion. He held numerous positions; shire councillor, a board member of the club as well as treasurer of the Barham Progress Association.

Patrons of the ‘Shady’ would park their cars and embark at two locations namely the beach/boat ramp in front of the caravan park and Club (left) or the pump structure behind the School of Arts Hall (bottom). Both areas were Crown reserves in council trust. Shady operated from the beach area when the river was low and it was dry. 

The small beach area where the houseboat is moored was rarely used for swimming being composed of mud.  

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