The Defender is anchored outside Reef HQ and the Museum of Tropical Queensland on Ross River, in Townsville, and it’s story is both inspiring and upsetting.
WHAT IS THE TALL SHIP DEFENDER?
This 115ft ship was built of Australian timber in 1896 by George Frost, who built 22 vessels.
The Tall Ship Defender was built to do trading between the states and new growing colonies in Australia. It spent most of its time spent sailing the waters around Southern Australia, between Victoria and Tasmania.
The ship was first registered in Launceston, Tasmania, where it earned a reputation for speed; having been entered into the history books in November 1923 by making a record breaking crossing of Bass Strait in less than 24 hours.
The Australian Navy used the Tall Ship Defender during World War II to transport troops and supplies. After the war it was returned to Tasmania where she was left to ruin.
A public appeal for its restoration raised about $250,000 and, along with federal Bi-Centennial funding, the 115ft Defender was restored between 1982 and 1988. It was then classified by the National Trust of Australia in 1986, and in 199 participated in the Bi-Centenary re-enactment of the sailing of the First Fleet into Sydney Harbour.
The former trading vessel that once serviced the early colonies of south-eastern Australia, and spent its post-restoration years as a Whitsundays pleasure charter cruiser, has spent the past 8 years falling to pieces in Townsville’s Ross River after being deemed unseaworthy following an engine room fire.
After a second breath of life, the historic vessel has again fallen into ruin… and now it has been allegedly tampered with and sits at the bottom of the river.
UPDATE 14 DEC 16 – The salvage of the Defender has finally begun. It is estimated to take up to 3 weeks. Let’s hope she is rescued by someone with a love of history!
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