About Enterprize

The Enterprize is a replica of the ship that brought the first white settlers to Melbourne in 1835.

The Original Enterprize 1830-1845

The original Enterprize was built in Hobart in 1830 by William Harvey and William Pender as part of the early coastal trading fleets of southern Australia. At that time most bulk cargo was transported by sea. Enterprize carried cargo such as coal and, on one occasion, over 180 sheep. 


In April 1835, Enterprize was purchased by John Pascoe Fawkner to search for a suitable place to found a new settlement in the Port Phillip District. Enterprize sailed from Launceston on 21st July 1835, but only travelled as far as George Town in northern Tasmania, where Fawkner was forced to remain by his creditors. Enterprize then departed George Town on 1st August 1835 under Captain Peter Hunter.


Contemporary water colour by Georgina McCrae

On board was Captain John Lancey, Master Mariner (Fawkner’s representative); George Evans, builder; William Jackson and Robert Marr, carpenters; Evan Evans, servant to George Evans and Pascoe Fawkner’s servants, Charles Wise, a ploughman, Thomas Morgan, general servant, James Gilbert, a blacksmith and his pregnant wife Mary. 


Searching for a place to settle, the party looked first at Westernport and then at the eastern side of Port Phillip. They eventually found the Yarra River, and after warping (hauling on ropes attached to the river bank) the ship upstream, they moored the Enterprize alongside the river bank at the foot of the present day William Street. On Sunday the 30 August the settlers disembarked and at once began to put up their tents, build their store and clear some land for growing vegetables.


Permanent settlement at Melbourne had begun. 


After this, Enterprize continued operating as a coastal trading vessel for a number of years. She eventually disappeared off the shipping register in 1847, having been wrecked on the bar of the Richmond River in northern New South Wales, with the loss of two lives.

Enterprize is an all-timber, carvel planked, two masted, topsail schooner. She is single decked, square transomed, with crossing yards on her foremast.


She has been traditionally constructed using Australian and New Zealand grown timbers. 

The Replica Enterprize 1997-Present

The Replica Enterprize is held in trust for the people of Victoria by the Enterprize Ship Trust.
The modern Enterprize sailing off Geelong

It was determined that the replica Enterprize would be as close to the original ship as possible. This was not easy, as therewere no copies of the original plans. However, painstaking work by naval architects and shipwrights using information gathered from the few paintings and sketches of the original Enterprize and shipping registration details from the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, resulted in the plans which were used for the project. 


It was also determined that the replica would use the same materials that were used in the original ship where possible.This meant the sails would not be machine sewn from modern synthetic sailcloth, but hand sewn from flax cloth imported from Scotland. The standing and running rigging would not use modern materials of stainless steel wire and synthetic rope but natural hemp fibre, imported from Holland, protected with coatings of Stockholm tar. 


Wooden boat building methods have not changed very much over the years and so craftsmen with traditional skills were acquired. Much of the timber used in the construction of Enterprize was recycled from a variety of sources.




Her keel was laig in 1991 alongside the Polly Woodside, and construction was completed in 1997, when she was launched in Williamstown on August 30.


  • Her keel is a single piece of blue ironbark, fifteen inches by thirteen inches and forty-five feet long. 

  • Her stem, sternpost and deadwoods are 100-year-old ironbark wharf timbers, supplied by Nullabor timbers of Echuca. 

  • She is built on laminated bent ribs. The outer three laminations are New Zealand Kauri, salvaged from the staves of old brewing vats.

  • The top lamination is celery top Pine, as is her deck planking. 

  • Her hull is planked in Jarrah below the waterline. This timber was once the floor joists of a wool store in Fremantle,WA. Above the waterline, her hull is planked in Huon Pine. 

  • Her floor timbers are Jarrah, salvaged from Station Pier, Melbourne. 

  • Her stringers and beamshelf are Kauri. 

  • Her bulwarks are Cyprus Pine from the Royal Melbourne Golf Course. 

  • Her masts are Californian Redwood Planted by Melbourne Water in the 1920’s as an experimental timber crop at Kinglake. 

  • Her spars and deck beams are Oregon. 

  • She is bronze and copper fastened.



Length over deck 16.1m (53’) 

Length overall 27m (88’6”) 

Beam 5.4m (18’4”) 

Draft 3m (10’) 

Height Mast to Deck 17.7m (58’) 

Height Mast to Waterline 19.1m (62’6”) 

Displacement 72 tonnes 

Sail Area 185 sq. metres (2000 sq ft) 

Engine Cummins 613 T Diesel 

Freeboard 1.4 metres (4’7”) 


What We Do

Enterprize's mission is to provide all Victorians with the opportunity to experience life on board a ninteenth century sailing ship.


Most weekends are spent travelling to different ports around Port Phillip Bay, conducting Public sails during the day and in the evening.


Weekdays often see us taking students of all ages for excursions. See our Schools page for more info.


The Enterprize is also available to charter for a range of occasions, be it a birthday party, wedding, corporate function or other.


Enterprize also travels further abroad, taking members of the public and school groups on annual weeklong voyages East and West of Victoria, and to Hobart every second year for the Australian Wooden Boat Festival.

Enterprize - Member, Maritime Museums of Victoria
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