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20 Jun, 2011

New era for Popeye

After 49 years at the helm, Keith Altmann, aged 88, has decided to bid farewell to Popeye, recently selling his iconic cruise business along with Captain Jolley’s Paddleboats.

“Popeye has been a big part of my life for almost five decades,” Mr Altmann said.

“The city skyline, the riverbanks and the lake have changed a lot over the years but it’s time for a new owner and a new era.”

Popeye first hit the water in 1935, after Gordon Watts crafted a solid jarrah boat on the banks of the River Torrens. Mr Watts skippered the boat until Mr Altmann took over in 1962.

Over the years Mr Altmann has skippered everyone from Royalty to the Prime Minister.

“We turned one of the Popeye’s into the Royal Barge for the Queen and Duke’s visit in 1963 and again when she visited in 1973,” Keith said.

“And when we introduced the fibreglass fleet in 1982, Malcolm Fraser, who was Prime Minister at the time, was the first to take the helm.”

Popeye earned itself a SA Tourism Award in 1988 and in 2011 was the first to be recognised as a State Heritage Icon.

Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood has expressed his gratitude to Mr Altmann for his long and dedicated service.

“Popeye, under Keith’s guidance, has become one of Adelaide’s most popular tourist attractions,” Stephen said.

“He has bought an added element of delight to the city of Adelaide and on behalf of Council I sincerely thank Mr Altmann for his patronage and wish him all the best for his retirement.”

The new owner, Tony Shuman, who also owns and operates Elder Park Paddleboats and Linear Park Bike Hire says it will be business as usual for Popeye.

“We look forward to continuing the Popeye tradition for years to come,” Mr Shuman said. 

Popeye will be operating right through winter and departs daily from Elder Park in front of the Adelaide Festival Centre. During the 40 minute cruise, the boat travels west to the Torrens Weir and then turns around and travels back up the Adelaide Zoo before returning to the landing stage.

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Media Contact

Naomi Marsh
(08) 8203 7446 or 0448 665 434

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