“Not crying over spilt milk”: GoBoat operator moving on after viral prank
GoBoat say they “quickly reimbursed” and apologised to a group after a teenager threw milk at them from Evan Walker Bridge last month.
The owner of a boat hire company inadvertently placed at the centre of a viral prank said they were happy to move on from the strange incident.
On January 27 a group of four women who had hired an electric GoBoat and were travelling along the Yarra River were doused with milk by a teenager situated above them on Evan Walker Bridge, with the incident captured and put online.
Videos of both the prank taking place and the group revealing the damage quickly amassed millions of views.
Victoria Police then issued a statement three days later revealing it was “investigating after a number of people on a boat were sprayed with milk in the CBD over the weekend” and urged witnesses to come forward.
It was later revealed the teen executing the prank was a Year 11 Melbourne Grammar School student, with the school calling the incident “completely unacceptable”.
For GoBoat co-owner Oliver Swan, though, it was a strange episode that he was happy to move on from after helping the group of women.
“We reimbursed them straight away and apologised for the experience,” he told Southbank News.
“There’s a limit to what we can control, but they were really appreciative of that. I didn’t expect it to blow up to 15 million views or whatever it was.”
Mr Swan didn’t harbour any resentment to the offender, saying “kids will be kids”, and confirmed the school had directly contacted GoBoat.
However, given his boats regularly travel under prominent Melbourne bridges, he was wary of anything being thrown.
“Like any object being thrown off a bridge to any recreational craft, a rower or whatever, it poses a risk.”
He said the episode was a case study that “showed the power of social media” but didn’t forecast it to impact his business.
“I don’t think so, because of how quickly these viral videos come and go. The fear of copycats or people wanting to do the same thing, that’s a risk and the only thing that plays on our mind. As for the impact on our business, it’s more the fact that it’s absorbed a lot of time and energy that could’ve been spent on other things.”
“I don’t really want to cry over spilt milk, and waste any more energy on it,” he added with a laugh.
Mr Swan said GoBoat, whose boats had become a popular city-based activity for Melburnians and tourists, had not experienced issues before with objects or liquids being thrown from the Yarra River’s several walkway bridges.
He said, however, that the business, located at Banana Alley on the river’s Northbank, continued to deal with after-hours vandalism.
“Not objects from the bridge, we’ve not had major issues with that. But the overall security and condition of the area behind Flinders Street Station on the Northbank is an issue. There’s vandalism and damage to our boats happening, and I think other boat operators are experiencing the same thing.”
Mr Swan said this included perpetrators jumping their fence and entering the premises, damaging and/or detaching boats, and setting off fire extinguishers.
“The broader picture needs to be working with the City, the Yarra River Business Association and Parks Victoria to spot measures we can put in place as a preventative, whether that’s CCTV, more lighting, fencing or gates that can stop people from wandering down and causing problems. That’s the bigger issue, I think.” •