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About the Australian Register of Historic Vessels (ARHV)

The Australian Register of Historic Vessels (ARHV) is the definitive online registry of historic vessels in Australia.


A vessel is registered as historic after a rigorous process, including their relevance to Australia’s social history, and their particular significance to our maritime heritage.


Facts and figures are recorded with each vessel’s registration: current location, type or class, the eras their life spanned and the stories of their owners and designers.


The ARHV benefits all historic vessels by creating public awareness of the important role vessels have played in Australian history. This builds an environment for historic craft and their stories to be recognised and valued by the public, and through this, support from various sources will be encouraged and realised.


The ARHV is developed by the Australian National Maritime Museum in association with the Sydney Heritage Fleet.


The ARHV includes:


• All vessels built up to and including 1970 which meet a set of assessment criteria for Australian heritage, along with a small number of vessels with special significance that have been built after 1970.

• Vessels of all types and sizes - there is a diverse range from canoes, Indigenous watercraft, dinghies, skiffs, through to yachts and power craft, the wide variety of commercial vessels, Australian military craft - it is open to vessels that have operated on inland waterways as well as sea going craft.

• Vessels with a known provenance and background.

• Vessels that satisfy the assessment criteria but are now owned, operated or displayed outside of Australia.

• The ARHV does not include wrecks or replicas. A wreck is a vessel which is submerged, semi-submerged and abandoned.


Our ARHV team of curators are happy to answer any questions about the ARHV. Please email us at and we will get back to you as soon as we can.


You can also contact us by phone on +61 2 9298 3777


Or our mailing address is:


Australian Register of Historic Vessels

Wharf 7, 58 Pirrama Rd

Pyrmont NSW 2009


The authority of the Australian Register of Historic vessels is built on two levels of review, discussion and management: the ARHV Council, and its sub-committee, the Steering Committee.


These committees meet regularly. This governing structure ensures the Register has a solid foundation as a recognized body able to advise objectively on matters relating to Australian heritage vessels.


• For exemptions to survey as a heritage vessel AMSA requires a vessel be listed on the ARHV, prior to their review of any exemption requested.

• The International Historic and Traditional Ships panel working within the International Congress of Maritime Museums has ARHV Council members Alan Edenborough and David Payne as founding members of the panel which meets regularly with other international participants.


ARHV Council

This is an eight member committee chaired by the director of the Australian National Maritime Museum. It is made up of representatives from the ANMM and SHF. Representatives from other maritime museums, the marine industry, and private maritime heritage associations are invited to join. One position is held open for regular rotation.


The ARHV Council promotes the Register throughout Australia, discusses significant matters concerning heritage vessels and endorses craft nominated by the Steering Committee for acceptance onto the register.


Council Members

Kevin Sumption - Chair, Director ANMM

Alan Edenborough - Sydney Heritage Fleet

Ian Jempson - CEO Queensland Maritime Museum

John Jeremy - Naval Architect, former CEO Cockatoo Island Dockyard

Dr Ian MacLeod - Director, Western Australian Museum

Dr Damian Purcell - President, Classic Yacht Association of Australia

David Payne - ANMM Curator Historic Vessels


Steering Committee

This is a three member sub-committee of the ARHV Council, and its primary role is the thorough review of vessels put forward for nomination onto the Register, and to decide on their acceptance. Reviews are conducted regularly and the Steering Committee have the opportunity to seek clarification from the full ARHV Council on any craft whose nomination needs wider consideration.


Steering Committee Members

David Payne - ANMM Curator ARHV

Alan Edenborough - Sydney Heritage Fleet, President of the Australian Maritime Museums Council

Ian Jempson - CEO Queensland Maritime Museum


Q: Do vessels have to be located in Australia for them to qualify for the ARHV?

A: No, the vessel has to have Australian significance but can be located anywhere in the world, as long as it is not a wreck.


Q: Do vessels have to be floating or operational to qualify for the ARHV?

A: No, vessels not in operational use, and stored on land or in museums are included. The vessel has to be intact and reasonably complete, and not a wreck.


Q: If I nominate my boat for the ARHV, will any subsequent work on the vessel or its use or sale be affected by heritage restrictions?

A: No, nominated vessels do not become subject to any heritage restrictions, and the ANMM and SHF, through the ARHV, have no authority to control how a vessel is maintained, repaired or used; nor is the information released outside of the ARHV.


Q: Can I donate or sell my boat to the Australian National Maritime Museum or the Sydney Heritage Fleet?

A: No. The ANMM and SHF are developing the ARHV to document and survey surviving historic craft and to encourage their preservation in the community. They can be operational or preserved on land and promoted as significant items of local interest. The ANMM has an historic boat collection but does not have sufficient resources to acquire and manage more vessels at this stage. Similarly, the SHF’s not-for-profit resources mean it rarely considers additions to its vessel collection.


Q: How do I nominate my vessel for the ARHV?

A: Go to the Nomination Form with as much information as you have about your vessel, and complete the online questionnaire. Or you can print it out blank, and return by mail or fax.


Q: Can I nominate a craft belonging to someone else?

A: Yes, but the vessel must be nominated with the consent of the owner and with the owner’s details included on the form. The form can be filled out by someone other than the owner.


Q: How old does a vessel have to be if it is to be nominated for the ARHV?

A: The vessel should be built before 1970, but exceptions are created for vessels after this date if they are considered significant. This date is a management tool and will change as the Register develops over time.


Q: What gives a boat the significance to be nominated for the register?

A: The nomination form lists four areas in which a vessel can have significance. It may have strong and important connections to a community, it may be able to teach us something about its construction or use, it may be a very rare or significant vessel, or it may have strong and important connections to significant people or events. One or more of these criteria should be met for the vessel to be considered for nomination. If you suggest the areas in which the boat is special and provide evidence, the ARHV team will make the significance assessment from this information.


Q: Is there any restriction on the size or type of vessel to be nominated for the ARHV?

A: There are no size restrictions. The ARHV will accept vessels as small as dinghies and Indigenous canoes, up to and including large ships. It will not accept model boats or replicas.


Q: What information is required to nominate a vessel for the ARHV?

A: The Nomination Form outlines a series of questions relating to the boat’s details, ownership, historic significance, construction, configuration, condition and documentation. Fill out those areas relevant to your vessel which you are able to answer, and then return the form with any photographs and research information you have. The ARHV Project Officer will contact you to follow up your nomination.


Q: Where can I get restoration work done?

A: Shipwrights and other tradespeople are qualified to do many of the jobs required to restore a vessel, and there are a growing number with experience of restoration work on older vessels. Enquiries can be made through shipwright listings in the yellow pages, class associations and boat clubs.


Q: What are the priorities or guidelines for a restoration project?

A: The ANMM and SHF encourage people to retain as much of the original structure or integrity of the vessel as is practical. If restoration work is required, we encourage work that identifies a particular time or event in the vessel’s history and tries to configure the vessel to that point in time. In some cases preservation of the boat as it is, is preferable to major restoration and rebuilding work. It is recommended that before any work is done, the existing structure is assessed, photographs and notes taken, and if possible, plans drawn for the work required. It will be necessary to undertake research to find evidence of the vessel’s earlier configuration, by sourcing pictures, plans and contemporary reports or documents that can be used as primary sources. Contact us for further advice.


Q: How can I research and document my vessel?

A: A comprehensive documentation of a vessel includes information and images of the boat as it exists, and of its history, noting the various stages it has passed through and any important events. It can include plans and drawings, (original or recently drawn), register or other official papers, any references, articles or stories in the media, (including audio visual material), and anything else which might add to the knowledge of the boat and its use. The documentation can begin with just a few pieces of information, which can be gradually added to, to eventually form a more complete picture of the craft.


Q: Where do I find information about my vessel’s history?

A: The ANMM and SHF have a number of references which may hold information about the vessel’s past history including official registers, contemporary magazines and publications, and other resources. Previous owners often have information, as do local libraries, historical societies, and other groups, such as yacht clubs and community, sporting or special interest associations.


Q: Will the ARHV accept replica vessels?

A: The ARHV will not accept replica vessels.


Q: Can I use the ARHV to contact other owners?

A: Vessel owner details will not be made public. If you would like to contact an owner please Contact us and we will pass on your interest. It will be the owner’s choice to respond to you.




API Documentation

Our API consists of services that allow you to display our collection data in your own applications. View our API Documentation to learn about using the collection API.

Request API Key

In order to use our API, you must first request an API Key and agree to the terms and conditions of use.


Our API is also available in Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) format.

Browsing the Register

There are a few ways to browse the Register:


On the homepage, you can browse curated selections from the Register, such as Highlights.

Categories Page

On the categories page, you can view Vessels by the type of Vessel, like Cargo vessel or Fishing Vessel.

People Page

On the people page, you can browse people and groups associated with objects in the collection, along with relevant biographies and objects.

Public Collections

On the public collections page, you can browse user-created collections. You can add your own collections to public collections by registering on the site and creating collections that are marked "public".

Searching the Online Collection

Quick Search

Using the search box available on every page (quick search) you can enter terms that will search through different information in the collection (e.g. if you search for "portrait", this can return results that have "portrait" in the title or description).

Advanced Search

To search on specific criteria, you can use the advanced search to search within certain data fields. You can search using multiple criteria, such as the term "portrait" in the title + a date range of "1800-1900". If you are not getting any results with advanced search, try broadening your search by removing criteria.

Search Tips
  • You can use an * (asterisk) as a wildcard in searches, to match partial terms (e.g. draw* will return results for draw, drawn, drawings, etc.)
  • Use quotation marks to get more exact results - e.g. John Doe will return any results with John or Doe, but "John Doe" will return results with this exact phrase.

Viewing Search Results

Types of Results

There are different types of search results, such as object records and people records. When there is more than one type of result, you can click on these different tabs to view different types of records.


You can view a set of results in different ways: Grid, List, or Detail view. Use the icons to switch between different types of views.

Filter Panel

You can refine a result set by opening the filter panel and using filters to narrow down results. For example, you can filter to see only works that have images, or that are currently on view, within any result set. You can also clear each filter to revert to a larger result set, or clear all filters to get to your original result set.

Collect Panel

Once you've registered an account on the site, you can create your own collection sets and add artworks to them. You can multi-select artworks on each page by clicking the symbol, and this will open the collect panel so that you can add the objects to the collection set of your choice. You can also drag images into each collection set to add artworks.

Info Panel

The info panel, when available, contains additional information related to a search or set of objects.


Why is an Image Not Available

An image may be shown as not available if it is not yet available in our database, or if it cannot be displayed for copyright reasons.

My Collections

What Are My Collections?

My Collections allows you to create your own collections from the artworks available on this site. You can share your collections with others, or create groups of artworks for your own viewing (My Collections are private by default).

You can optionally add a description for each collection set, or add notes to individual artworks.

How Do I Use My Collections?

To use My Collections, you must first register an account. Once you have registered, you can start creating collection sets and adding artworks to them. You can add artworks to your collection set by clicking on the symbol while viewing objects, and selecting which collection set to add the artwork(s). You can also open the Collect Panel and drag images into the collections you've created.

How Do I Share a Collection With Someone Else?

If you mark your collection set public, this collection will be visible to others in the "Public Collections" section. The option to mark a collection as public is available when you edit your collection.

You can also view your collection set and copy the url link to share these objects with others. You can view your collection sets by logging in and going to the "My Collections" page or by opening the Collect panel.