The Register of Australian and New Zealand Ships and Boats

Grafton on the slip at Thursday Island. Photo: Alan Lucas

SOS! Pearling lugger Grafton - Another iconic
Australian pearling lugger at risk


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Over recent years, the number of surviving pearling luggers is dwindling as one by one time catches up with them or they are destroyed by cyclones or by other circumstances. Amongst the luggers lost was the Viking in 2007.

The following describes the current situation of a 106 year old lugger Grafton that could really use some help.

If you ever wanted your own authentic pearling lugger, have a mate that wants one (remember Father's day this weekend) or you know of a museum that is seeking a pearling lugger to add to their collection, then now would probably be a good time to contact the owner.

Another option would be if you have available an alternative site that the owner could use to safely keep the Grafton.

On 18 August 2013 20:28, Colin Grazules wrote:

We have arrived in Port Douglas on the journey north and was rather saddened to see that 'Grafton' has been left ...on a mud bank in the river at Port Douglas.

Inquires at the Marine Office revealed that the slipway had been acquired by the marina owners and I gather that there were fees payable or she was just in the way, so they towed her over to the mud bank and [left] her there.

Does anyone know her owners and why it has come to this sad state of affairs?? I have attached some pictures of her that were taken today. [See below].

Above and below: Lugger Grafton lying on the mud bank at Port Douglas Aug 2013. Photos: Colin Grazules

On 19 August 2013 08:36, Michael Smith wrote:

Firstly Grafton... Steve S..... is still the owner and he lives right across from the slipway. He, not the Marina, took Grafton to the other side. She was in the Slipway hold (owned by the Marina) and they no longer wanted her there and I believe Steve thought that was his only option. He still has the engine, all rigging, masts and deck stored away. Her hull is in need of major repairs... the oregon planking is leaking even with layers of "plastic" ply screwed to the outside. She has been "for sale" for some time. The croc comes for free!

On 20 August 2013 18:56, Tony Hunt wrote:

This is terribly sad, GRAFTON was such a beautiful lugger. I fear that the Port Douglas harbourmaster won't tolerate her for long in that condition.

The record for the Grafton as it currently stands is as follows:

Name: Grafton   

Later names {also Sail or Rego or Fishing No}: {AL263}-b44  {A25}-'07b57  {AL263}-b45  {A49}-'58b76

Material: Wood

Rig: Ketch~bm   Rig changes & identification codes: A..#

Type:Pearling/Army/Pearling/Yacht   Propulsion: Sail

Designer: <unknown>

Year built: 1907   Yard or Job No: <unknown>

Builder: Shiosaki, Tsurumatsu 

Where built: Thursday Is, Qld

Engines: <unknown or N/A>  

Boilers/Gearing: <unknown or N/A><unknown or N/A>

Official Number: 121557    IMO Number: <unknown or N/A>

Dimensions (ft)— Length: 46.46 Breadth: 12.75  Depth: 5.75

Volumetric ‘tonnage’ measurements (1 ton = 100 cubic ft):

Gross: 15.34  Underdeck: <unknown>   Net: 15.34

Decks: 1Dk   Deck Erections: <unknown>   

Number of funnels &location: 0  Number of bulkheads: <unknown>

Tanks, etc: <unknown>   Freeboard: <unknown>

Stem: Round   Figurehead: Nil   Stern: Counter  

PORTS and owners: TOWNSVILLE'07b10b13 Burns, Philp &Co Ltd: SYDNEY'13 Burns, Philp &Co Ltd: '13b15b17b28 Wyben Pearling Co Ltd: b45b46 Australian Army: '46 Wyben Pearling Co Ltd: '47b48b50 Burns, Philp &Co Ltd: SYDNEY'56b57 Burns, Philp &Co: '64b67b76 Pearls Pty Ltd: '76 Dianne Barbara Hergatt: CAIRNS@'86 Dianne Barbara Hergatt & Marion Hergatt jnr: c01 sold: b05b08 Bob Goodall: PORT DOUGLAS@'08b09b13 Steve Stonier

Fate/Status— Year: 2013  Type: Stationary  Details: <unknown or N/A>

History and details: Carvel oregon planked on teatree & penda frame. 50' Loa. 47' Lwl. 7' 2" draft. 24t displ. Cost £450. 1907/11/12 registered, Townsville No.6 of 1907. Pearling at Torres Strait, manned by Japanese crew who dived for mother-of-pearl shell. 1913/05/12 registered, Sydney No.25 of 1913. Wyben Pearling was a subsidiary of Burns, Philp. 1914-15 part of Thursday Island pearling fleet. Requisitioned & operated by Australian Army by 1944/09, lugger, sail only. 1944/09 operating with Australian New Guinea Administration Unit (ANGAU). 1945/06/09 register closed upon sale to Commonwealth Govt. WW2 taken over by Australian Army. 1946/04/11 reported lying at Samarai. 1946/09/02 sold for ₤700, 'as is-where is' at Samarai. 1950/07/18 participated in annual pearling lugger race at Thursday Island over course of approximately 30 miles, all required to be anchored at commencement of the race, at sound of signal to start there were the sounds of screeches and groans of the many windlasses. Fitted with auxiliary motor by 1956, 30bhp 1Cy. 4SA Southern Cross Machinery Co Ltd diesel. 1956/08/16 registered, Sydney No.19 of 1956, 15.43g 46.6' x13.1' x5.4' depth of hold, 7.2' depth from top of deck at side amidship to bottom of keel, length of engine room 10.2', two non-WT bulkheads. 1958-67 pearling at Thursday Island. 1963/05 fitted with new motor, 1Cy. 4SA Gardner Barton Hall diesel, surveyed at Thursday Island. 1985 based at Cairns, used for fishing &charter work. Restored with cabin over old hatches by 1985. 1986/11/07 register closed. Refitted for use as a private yacht by 2001. c2001 sold 23K. 2002 based at Port Douglas, Qld. Sank nd, raised & sold in derelict state, refitted by new owners. Fitted with wheelhouse aft by 2005. 2005 Goodall president of Cairns CYC & Cairns Wooden Boat Association. 2005/03 moored at piles in Trinity Inlet, Cairns. 2006/c09 on hardstand at Cairns without masts, 6 planks found to require replacement due to worm damage, added superstructure to be removed. 2007/01 sighted moored at Trinity Inlet, Cairns with deckhouse still in place. 2009 under restoration for training. 2010/02/21 reported still at Port Douglas. 2013/08 reported removed from slipway and lying on mud bank at Port Douglas without engine, hull in need of major repair.


References (see ARHV1(P):Ask1:BobGoodall:Bpc1:CairnsPost^2007/1/30(P):ColinGrazules(P):Hvr1:Lnq1(P):Lnq3:Mcl2:Naa1:Naa3:PeterIllidge



Research notes:  

Corrections, additions or updates gratefully received via email at

If information is published please acknowledge Mori Flapan: Register of Australian and New Zealand Ships and Boats 2013 and any other major contributors listed in References above (usually denoted by capitals).