Ahoy There

Before the development of road and rail infrastructure boats of all types and sizes were the only link many river and coastal communities had to the wider region and for producers the only way to transport their goods to markets or factories for processing. Boat builders and boat yards were an essential service to support the once thriving river trade of the Mid North Coast rivers.

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Click to view Essential  Boatbuilding Tools

Essential Boatbuilding Tools

These traditional boat building tools illustrate the pain-staking work that goes into building and repairing wooden hulled boats. This collection consists of a caulking mallet, 8 caulking irons and samples of hemp and cotton oakum. Caulking is the process of…

Click to view What is a  Minute Gun

What is a Minute Gun

The gun is a rare reminder of the Mid North Coast’s reliance on coastal shipping and river trade to move cargo and passengers to and from cities including Newcastle and Sydney and to bring welcome mail and news to isolated…

Click to view In Knots

In Knots

Rope making and methods of fastening and securing ropes are traditional and essential nautical arts. Egyptians worked with twisted, braided and knotted ropes 3,000 years ago as did seamen many miles away in the Far East. Their ropes and knots…

Click to view Restored with Love

Restored with Love

The M.V. Wentworth was built by Stannard Bros Shipyards in Balmain in 1948 and spent all her working life as a port services vessel cruising between Sydney, Botany Bay and Port Kembla. She took boilermakers to the steelworks, steelworkers to…

Click to view A Card Carrying Member

A Card Carrying Member

This Shipwrights Provident Union Card belonged to Thomas Cleave, a Shipwright who worked at the Hamilton (now Hibbard) shipyards and slipway on the Hastings River from 1884 to 1916. The Shipwrights Provident Union was instituted in 1862, to support the…

Click to view Thanks Captain

Thanks Captain

The practice of presenting illuminated addresses to mark special occasions or celebrate achievements was common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Usually such addresses were presented to those in public office or professions. An illuminated address presented to…

Click to view Tickets Please

Tickets Please

This framed printed cardboard sign was issued by the North Coast Steam Navigation Company Ltd on January 8 1914, to advise passengers that on and after 1 February 1914, they would be required to hold a passage ticket before joining…

Essential Boatbuilding Tools

Essential Boatbuilding Tools

Circa 1900s / Learn more on Ehive
Bill Ryan’s boat yard built many of the wooden boats that once worked on the Manning River including cream boats, fishing trawlers for local use as well as some of the Illuka NSW fishing fleet

These traditional boat building tools illustrate the pain-staking work that goes into building and repairing wooden hulled boats. This collection consists of a caulking mallet, 8 caulking irons and samples of hemp and cotton oakum. Caulking is the process of sealing the gaps between the planks and joints of timber built boats using creosote or pine tar soaked hemp or cotton to seal and make the joins waterproof.

The tools were used by Bill Ryan, a second generation boat builder on the Manning River at his Brown’s Creek boat yard and likely date back to Ryan’s apprenticeship. Bill’s father William started building wooden boats on Scott’s Creek, Oxley Island in the early 1900s. After completing his apprenticeship as a Loftsman, a mould and template maker for boat parts, Bill returned to the Manning and worked with his father and brother Paul before setting up his own boat yard at Brown’s Creek in 1943.

Bill Ryan’s boat yard built many of the wooden boats that once worked on the Manning River including cream boats, fishing trawlers for local use as well as some of the Illuka NSW fishing fleet and numerous other passenger ferries and leisure craft. During World War 2, Ryan also had contracts with the Australian and American armies to build boats for the war effort.

Bill Ryan’s son John, a carpenter and shipwright, continues the family trade to this day, repairing wooden hulled boats at the family property at Brown’s Creek using similar caulking tools to these.

What is a Minute Gun

What is a Minute Gun

Circa 1842 / Learn more on Ehive
The gun is a rare reminder of the Mid North Coast’s reliance on coastal shipping and river trade

The gun is a rare reminder of the Mid North Coast’s reliance on coastal shipping and river trade to move cargo and passengers to and from cities including Newcastle and Sydney and to bring welcome mail and news to isolated and remote farming communities. The gun was used as a communication device to signal the impending arrival of the steamer at river ports and the wharfs of farming communities along the Manning. Each gun had a distinctive sound based on its size and the charges used and were easily recognised by river communities.

This cast iron minute gun or small signalling cannon is a relic from the coastal steamer Gipsy a wooden cutter built in 1842 .The Gipsy, owned by the Manning Steam Navigation Co. carried goods and passengers between Newcastle, Sydney and communities on the Manning River including Ghinni Ghinni, Croki, Cundletown, Taree and Wingham.

The Gypsy was wrecked on the Manning River bar near Harrington in April 1856, the last of a number of final shipwrecks before a pilot for the Manning River was appointed in August 1856. The minute gun was recovered some 20 years after the wrecking of the Gipsy by John William Smith whilst building the Crowdy Head Lighthouse and its associated residence in 1878.

In Knots

In Knots

Circa 1940s / Learn more on Ehive
This superb collection of six cotton knotted rope samplers was made during the 1940s by Eardley Bickersteth Hawkins Ashby, a professionally trained Ship Rigger

Rope making and methods of fastening and securing ropes are traditional and essential nautical arts. Egyptians worked with twisted, braided and knotted ropes 3,000 years ago as did seamen many miles away in the Far East. Their ropes and knots were much the same as those in use today except that synthetic fibres have replaced natural fibres. There are a very large number of different kinds of knots, each developed for a range of specific tasks from attaching rope, or other knotting material to objects such as another rope, cleat, or ring, or binding or constricting objects. They may also be made to slip, move, slide, or release.

This superb collection of six cotton knotted rope samplers was made during the 1940s by Eardley Bickersteth Hawkins Ashby, a professionally trained Ship Rigger. Born in Kent, England in 1878 he learned his craft whilst working on the square rigged sailing ships that were an important part of the P&O fleet up until the early 1900s. In 1910 Mr Ashby migrated to Australia with his young family, and took up farming although it appears he continued to practise and perfect his rope knotting, plaiting and weaving skills.

Remarkably, Eardley was in his mid 60s when he was engaged to work at the Rose Bay Flying Base with Qantas Airways after World War II. Here he was employed as a professional rope maker. He made the long braided and knotted ropes which were hung along the gang ways for passengers to grip as they boarded the flying boats that operated from Rose Bay. He also made the ornate bell-pulls which adorned the plush interiors of the Sandringham Flying Boats and it is likely that he made these samplers to plan and test his patterns prior to making the final pieces.

Restored with Love

Restored with Love

Circa 1948 / Learn more on Ehive
In 1999, a group of passionate volunteers from the Mid North Coast Maritime Museum rescued M.V. Wentworth and brought her to Port Macquarie for a make-over

The M.V. Wentworth was built by Stannard Bros Shipyards in Balmain in 1948 and spent all her working life as a port services vessel cruising between Sydney, Botany Bay and Port Kembla. She took boilermakers to the steelworks, steelworkers to the dockyards, oil workers to refineries, crew men to their ships, migrants to Quarantine and mail to those living and working on islands in the harbour. On occasions she took people sight-seeing and carried officials to starting lines at sailing regattas. Because she was small and had a shallow draft, she battled through big seas and huge swells where larger vessels dared not to go, in order to rescue stranded people or other vessels in trouble. For over 40 years the MV Wentworth faithfully carried out her duties in Sydney and the south coast but when, the costs for maintenance became too high she was retired.

In 1999, a group of passionate volunteers from the Mid North Coast Maritime Museum rescued M.V. Wentworth and brought her to Port Macquarie for a make-over. She had been purchased from Stannards for just $1.00, but there were many costs involved in transporting her from Sydney, in repairing her timbers and re-conditioning her motors, all of which were met by generous donations from the Port Macquarie and Hastings Valley communities. After nearly two years and 8,000 hours of painstakingly difficult and demanding work by many volunteers, the M.V.Wentworth was ready again to return as the “flagship” of the Maritime Museum in the calmer waters of the Hastings River.

A Card Carrying Member

A Card Carrying Member

Circa 1883 / Learn more on Ehive
The Shipwrights Provident Union was instituted in 1862, to support the welfare of injured workers and their families and carried the Motto United We Stand….. Divided We Fall

This Shipwrights Provident Union Card belonged to Thomas Cleave, a Shipwright who worked at the Hamilton (now Hibbard) shipyards and slipway on the Hastings River from 1884 to 1916. The Shipwrights Provident Union was instituted in 1862, to support the welfare of injured workers and their families and carried the Motto United We Stand….. Divided We Fall. It was run by the Sydney Shipwrights Association which had been formed in 1829 and is believed to have been the first trade society formed in NSW.

Thomas Cleave had arrived in Australia in 1881 having worked as a Shipwright in England. In 1884 John Hibbard a prominent businessman and owner of the Hamilton timber mill and slipway in Port Macquarie wrote to Thomas seeking his assistance in re-floating the coastal steamer, the “Richmond” which was aground on rocks in the Hastings River near the entrance to Port Macquarie. Mr Hibbard told Thomas that he would give constant employment at the wages you stated, £2.15.00 per week, but we shall require you at once.

Early attempts to re-float the “Richmond” using local personnel had been unsuccessful, and it appears that Thomas’s reputation as a shipwright with first class skills and an excellent work ethic, were the qualities Mr Hibbard needed in order to raise the stranded steamer. Thomas led a team of four shipwrights and faced many challenges trying to save the ship, but he too was unsuccessful and the steamer remains to this day, buried in sand under Port Macquarie’s southern breakwall.

Also in the collection of documents relating to Thomas Cleave are his original Shipwright’s Indenture Certificate dated 7 May 1864, two original character and employment references written in 1871 and 1875, Certificates of Discharge from two ships on which he worked in 1876 and 1877, and the original letter dated 13 March 1884 sent by John Hibbard to Thomas offering him employment as a Shipwright in Port Macquarie.

Thanks Captain

Thanks Captain

Circa 1910 / Learn more on Ehive
We the undersigned fellow employees and old comrades beg you to accept this small token of esteem upon your retirement from active service

The practice of presenting illuminated addresses to mark special occasions or celebrate achievements was common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Usually such addresses were presented to those in public office or professions. An illuminated address presented to a ship’s captain appears to be rare.

This hand drawn and coloured poster style illuminated address with photographs was given to Captain Henry Jackson [1837-1913] in 1910 on his retirement from the North Coast Steam Navigation Company Ltd. The address is worded …we the undersigned fellow employees and old comrades beg you to accept this small token of esteem upon your retirement from active service… evidencing the high regard in which Henry Jackson was held by his employer and colleagues. There are 42 signatories to the address.

Henry Jackson’s maritime career spanned over 50 years including serving with the Clarence and Richmond River Steam Navigation Company including after its merger with John See and Company to become the North Coast Steam Navigation Company. Jackson was remembered as a cautious and conscientious officer with two strandings of the Tomki on the Richmond River bar the only mishaps in his long career. It was also reported that he was very popular with the travelling public.

Tickets Please

Tickets Please

Circa 1914 / Learn more on Ehive
The North Coast Steam Navigation Company Ltd was the major provider of travel services for the residents of the Macleay and transported goods, produce and mail for over 60 years.

This framed printed cardboard sign was issued by the North Coast Steam Navigation Company Ltd on January 8 1914, to advise passengers that on and after 1 February 1914, they would be required to hold a passage ticket before joining any of the company’s steamers at Sydney, otherwise they would be charged an extra 10 percent booking fee. Passengers were advised of the latest conditions of travel, using signs like this one, placed at Booking Offices and at company wharves at ports along the coast between Sydney and the Richmond River.

The North Coast Steam Navigation Company Ltd was the major provider of travel services for the residents of the Macleay and transported goods, produce and mail for over 60 years. Its services were at a peak around this time, the years immediately prior to the completion of the north coast railway line. It is likely that its services were in such high demand that it chose to capitalise on that demand, including charging more for deck berths and not accepting cheques for passage payment. It is understood these terms and conditions were in place until 1921.