Late March and with the rain coming down in Sydney, the luxurious SY Ena played host to descendants of its original owner from 1900, Sir Thomas Dibbs. Fourteen relatives gathered in the museum foyer and then went down to see their patriarch’s pride and joy, fresh from a trial steaming on the Friday and eager to get out again. Also on board were two engineers from Melbourne familiarizing themselves with the engine, and everyone including the owner were, in one way or another, discovering more about the yacht.
The Dibbs family aboard Ena Photo: David Payne, ANMM
The family members attending spanned many generations, headed by 96 year old Elizabeth Cadden who came with an embroidered table cloth from the boat while her son Andrew held a plate embossed with Ena and RSYS, for the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, small mementos from what had once been in their family. Scurrying around and playing make believe games were the youngest generation, Olivia, Imogen and Ella, free to make much more noise than was probably the case for their age when great, great grandfather was in charge. It was also a wonderful social get together for the families, catching up on news as they sat and talked together or roamed around the decks and cabins, taking in the splendid restoration. Continue reading →
For years it’s been under covers, almost out of sight, and seemed untouchable on the rare occasions it was out on the water – but now the harbour’s princess SY Enahas begun to shed her mystique- and the museum is lucky enough to provide a venue for her coming out.
The classic lines, clipper bow and counter stern, raked spars and funnel, an intricate, beautifully engineered steam engine in immaculate condition, and an unbelievable varnish finish, SY Ena stops everyone in their tracks, and has them lost for words when they go aboard.
SY Ena at the museum- Photographer Andrew Frolows ANMM
Five days in Victoria and the Murray River, and I have had discussions or inspections involving an amazing variety of craft over a short period, showing once again what a diverse collection of historic craft and related people that we have in Australia. From a basic hand worked colonial log craft to the most luxurious steam yacht in the country, through paddle steamers, barges and corrugated iron dinghies then finally back to where things began in this country, Indigenous bark canoes and a community gathering.
A Maritime Museums of Australia Support Scheme (MMAPSS) funded vessel inspection in Echuca was the initial reason for coming down to the Murray, but the Australian Register of Historic Vessels (ARHV) came aboard as well, and this combination of resources has yielded some very useful work and contacts over five days from 20 to 24 February.
Driving across from Albury I stopped at Wahgunyah, once one of the busiest inland ports when it was at the top end of the paddle steamer trade along the Murray River. Here, on a private property I was able to inspect closely one of those hidden gems of history, a real curiosity. It was a semi-circular shaped vessel made from part of a red gum log decades ago, perhaps over 100 years ago. It may have just carried a few people or some goods on the local creeks to and from the port. The raked ends were once panelled over and only the remnants of the nails survive, it has cut outs and fastening holes that may have related to its method of use, and a sump for bailing it out. This unusual craft been on the ARHV for two years (HV000509) but it was terrific to see it up close and confirm various details.
The red gum log boat at Wahgunyah. Image by David Payne