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TRIXEN was built as a standard 38 foot (11.58 metre) Western Australian pearling lugger in Broome in 1904, then rebuilt in the 1940s as a larger vessel. It is one of the oldest pearling luggers still extant and its convoluted history demonstrates the typical patterns of regulation-flouting, reconstruction and adaptive reuse shared by many pearling luggers in the 20th century. TRIXEN also has the rare distinction of having worked in all the major Australian pearling centres, from Shark Bay in the far west, through Exmouth Gulf, Broome and the Kimberley, Darwin and the Arafura Sea, to Torres Strait and far north Queensland on the east coast. It has been restored to its larger 50 foot ( 15.23 m) long 1940s configuration and in 2010 is on display at the Western Australian Maritime Museum in Fremantle WA.
DescriptionBuilt as TRIXIE by an unknown builder, the schooner rigged lugger was initially licensed to the partnership of Coleman and Palmer, before being taken over by Henry Miller in 1907. When Miller registered it in 1911, the existence of another TRIXIE meant the name had to be changed to TRIXEN. Miller registered it in the name of his wife, Eliza, and the next owner was also a woman, Alice Capes, wife of the licensee of the Roebuck Bay Hotel in Broome.

TRIXEN passed through a number of hands until in 1940 the then owner Louis Goldie commenced a "repair", a euphemism by which indentured Japanese shipwrights could build a new vessel under the guise of the repair of an existing one. Unfortunately the Japanese entry into World War II saw the Japanese shipwrights interned and the reborn TRIXEN sat out the war as a part built skeleton on the foreshore of Roebuck Bay. Oral histories suggest that TRIXEN's frames still carry the marks of shrapnel from the Japanese air raid on Broome in February 1942.

After the war the unfinished lugger was bought and completed by the firm of Streeter and Male, making TRIXEN the penultimate Broome lugger built with locally grown kadjebut frames rather than laminates. In the process the length had grown from 38 feet to over 50 feet (11.58 m to over 15 m), the registered tonnage almost doubled, and it acquired a 3 cylinder Southern Cross diesel engine. In 1951 TRIXEN, now rigged as a ketch, transferred to Darwin under the ownership of M T Paspalis, and in 1952 to Torres Strait with the Queensland firm of HO & RN Hocking.

With the collapse of the pearl shell industry in the early 1960s, Hockings returned TRIXEN to Western Australia for a pioneering experiment in prawn trawling. Having proven the viability of the fishery, TRIXEN was replaced by more appropriate vessels and instead entered the crayfishing industry. By 1970 it had been rebuilt again as a private motor yacht on the Swan River, until undergoing yet another conversion for use as a cargo and passenger ferry to service the holidaymakers on Garden Island, south of Perth.

In the mid 1970s TRIXEN was laid up on the Swan River where it sank at its moorings and was abandoned, until tenders were called for removal of the wreck. TRIXEN was raised by members of the Maritime Archaeology Association of Western Australia on behalf of shipwright Les Penny, who subsequently donated the vessel to the Western Australian Maritime Museum.

TRIXEN has since been painstakingly restored and re-rigged to its 1940s pearling configuration by WA Maritime Museum staff and now forms pride of place in the Pearling Gallery of the WA Maritime Museum, Victoria Quay, Fremantle.

Entry supplied by the Western Australian Maritime Museum.

Vessel Details
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:timber planked
Current status:inside building
Current status:non-operational
Current status:on public display
Deck layout:full decked
Deck material and construction:timber planked
Hull material and construction:carvelcarvel-planked
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:displacement
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:overhanging transom
Hull shape:round bottom
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:full keel
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:keel hung rudder
Motor propulsion:auxiliary motor
Motor propulsion:diesel
Motor propulsion:inboard
Related materials:drawings
Related materials:film
Related materials:interviews
Related materials:models
Related materials:news clippings
Related materials:photos
Related materials:plans
Related materials:references
Rig type:ketch
Sail cloth:cotton
Spar material:iron/steel
Spar material:timber
Additional Titles

Primary title: Trixen

Previous title: Trixie

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