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WIRRAMINNA is a yacht from 1905 that was built by Wm Ford Boatbuilders in Berrys Bay Sydney. Ford and his son formed one of the premier boatbuilding firms in Sydney from the late 1880s through to the 1930s, and built some of the most prestigious craft on the harbour including the large steam yacht ENA and steam launch LADY HOPETOUN (HV000004). However they had a wide client base and built much smaller craft such has WIRRAMINNA and SAO (HV0000011). The yacht has had a close association with Sydney Harbour, Pittwater and Brisbane Waters for its entire life, and represents at typical hull for the period.
DescriptionWIRRAMINNA is an Indigenous word understood to mean "tree by the water". It was launched as a centre-board cutter from WM Ford's yard at Berrys Bay in 1905. The designer is not known but contemporary recollections suggest it was the possibly the work of the successful amateur E.W.Haywood, well known for many small craft designs of that period, some of which were built by Ford, including the launch LADY FREDA (HV000261). It is also possible JW (Bill) Pickering, the designer of WINDWARD I (HV000055) may have drawn the plans. WIRRAMINNA was originally about 9.5m long, with 2.75m beam and 1.43m draft. Since then it has lost some length off its counter stern’s arch board, and had a fixed keel added to bring the draft to almost 1.7 metres.

The first owner was George Herbert Hoskins of Burwood who kept WIRRAMINNA for about eight years and installed the yacht's first engine - a 6 kW converted single cylinder De Dion, then a popular type. Later engines included an Invincible, a Universal, Rugby (truck motor) and the current present installation of a Droffin two cylinder diesel.

G H Hoskins sold WIRRAMINNA to Charles Relph in 1913, a yachtsman who was widely known as a powerboat enthusiast and race winner. Relph was an engineer by profession and agent for the Invincible engines. He only kept WIRRAMINNA for a year and sold the yacht in March 1914. It was sold again after this about eight times, including back to WM Ford before it was acquired by Dr Percy Cooly from Double Bay early in 1924. It is thought the keel was added at this point, and the Cooly family raced it with the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club until 1935.

Once again it went through a succession of owners over a short period before being bought by S.A.S.C. member Grant Heave of Clifton Gardens. At this point it was sloop rigged after a period as a yawl and a cutter. Neave made several alterations and improvements to the cabin giving it the current cabin house appearance. Neave was often seen sailing WIRRAMINNA alone. he sold WIRRAMINNA to Herschal Smith of Camden in 1966 and it stayed with the Smith family for ten years, and still sailed with the Amateurs. It was moored off their clubhouse in Mosman Bay during this period. Smith's son formed a partnership with two others to finance a rebuild in 1981.

Other details of this partnership remain unknown, but at some point prior to 1992 WIRRAMINNA was bought by Dr Rob Gibbs of Avoca, who kept it moored in Gosford boat harbour. Gibbs didn’t use it very much and sold it to Ron Barelle in 1994 where it went to Pittwater and had more work done, this time by Colin Beashel at Elvina Bay. It was later moved to Dangar island on the Hawkesbury River where the current owner bought it in 2011.

He and his partner plan to bring WIRRAMINNA back to its original gaff-cutter style of rig, and rebuild it with a more typical 1905 style of cabin top as well.

Vessel Details
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:timber plywood
Current status:operational
Deck layout:cabin
Deck layout:decked with cockpit
Deck material and construction:timber plywood
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:tiller
Hull material and construction:carvelcarvel-planked
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:displacement
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:overhanging stem
Hull shape:overhanging transom
Hull shape:round bottom
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:full keel
Motor propulsion:auxiliary motor
Rig type:cutter
Spar material:timber
Hull shape:other
Alternate Numbers

Official Number: 125152

Sail Number: A 14

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