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HEBE, one of the Carnaby hire boats

Fred Carnaby

West Australian boat builder Fred Carnaby was an early 1900s builder who was involved in the construction of motor launches, yachts, luggers and pearling schooners. He was born in Melbourne, but left there and worked his way to Broome as a cabin boy. He then worked in Broome’s boatbuilding yards, and after travelling to Sydney to marry the daughter of a Sydney boat builder (he had met her in Broome), they returned to Perth in 1904 where he was established with his own business by 1906. As well as building boats he had craft for hireon the river.

AM TREMLETT a 6 metre long motor launch is an early craft built by Carnaby, and considered to be a handy tender. EDITH was larger, at 8.5m long with a 10 hp engine taken from motor bus and converted to suit its new purpose.

He built some of the skiffs racing on the Swan River including the 16-foot skiff POMONA, and two 18-foot skiffs called INITRA and CYGNUS. Yachts included the ERENA, REDWING, BONITA, ST ELMO, HUIA and LC. Two luggers he built are recorded as TRIXIE and ETHEL. HEBE was one of the Star Class of hire boats built by Carnaby in 1921.

Records show some of the other craft built by Carnaby:

1908: 18-foot skiff CYGNUS of white Gum, Jarrah and cedar planking on lines of AEOLUS, said to have order for another.
1909: motor launch for Northern Estuary Packing of Mandurah. The launch has twin bilges with the shaft and propeller in the tunnel . LOA 30ft, Beam 8f,t Draught 13inches, built of kauri , jarrah and pine. To be used to convey fish to factory.
1906: Built ERENA for 1906/07 season.
1913 approx: The MERMAID, then VALMEDA built for Tom Coombe LOA 33ft Beam 11ft ( one of the VAL- ferries)
1911: built THE GREY GHOST for Mr Harry Dyer LOA 23ft Beam 3.5ft
1926: built motor launch GLADMOR for Mr M Crawcour LOA 28ft
1928 built motor launch SEALARK for Mr H S Hampton 28ft Loa
1932 Carnaby & Sons of Nedlands built 30ft cabin cruiser launch HUSH for Messrs Ducat & Ford

Eric Carnaby, Fred’s son worked with him, and the business was still operating in the early 1930s. Fred Carnaby died on 22/7/1935 in Sydney, leaving a wife & 6 sons. Eric was still involved with yachts 16 years later, in 1951 he is recorded renting yachts, presumably owning a small business of craft for hire.

Based on material from TROVE newspaper searches and ‘They Kept this State Afloat’- Rod Dickson 1998.