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Wangi Queen Showboat - Cruises in Port Stephens NSW
Wangi Queen Showboat
Port Stephens, NSW | Lemon Tree Passage, Taylors Beach, Karuah |

History of Wangi Queen Showboat

Extract from paper researched and written by JD Parbery in 2020
for the Australian National Maritime Museum

WANGI QUEEN, originally MV ETTALONG, is a 66ft timber decked ferry built in 1922 in Empire Bay on the New South Wales Central Coast. It was built by Beattie Brothers’ Shipyard as a single screw diesel powered ferry for use on Brisbane Waters. Since 1975 WANGI QUEEN has been used as a charter boat on Lake Macquarie and Port Jackson.

The Beattie Brothers, led by Gordon E. Beattie, had a successful boatyard and built several yachts and small to medium sized boats in the early 1900s – drawing heavily on local materials. The Beattie Family’s Palermo property on Cockle Creek was the last of the old shipyards working at Brisbane Waters. Timbers for MV ETTALONG, mostly spotted gum, were selected and cut by hand from the Wattagan Forest, west of Lake Macquarie, then dragged along rough tracks by bullocks to the Beattie Brothers shipyard, a two-to-three day journey. This timber formed the base of MV ETTALONG’s carvel planked hull, copper fastened and sheathed, with a full structured keel.

For the keel of MV ETTALONG Beattie ordered a straight iron bark log 80 ft in length. The frames of the vessel were made of spotted gum, the lodging knees, hanging knees, and breast hooks all grown timbers found amongst the Wattagan Forest. During the construction of MV ETTALONG Beattie was told of a 1850s sailing ship that had been wrecked off North Head in Sydney Harbour, which he purchased from a salvage company for use in MV ETTALONG’s construction. The teak decking from this sailing ship was used in MV ETTALONG’s superstructure, and is most evident in its linseed-oiled window sashes.

From 1922 to 1938 MV ETTALONG served as a ferry on Brisbane Waters at a time when most residences were only accessible via water. During World War II MV ETTALONG was relocated to Port Jackson and renamed ETTALONG STAR. She assisted with the movement of thousands of defence personnel between moored ships and wharves in Woolloomooloo Bay, Farm Cove, Sydney Cove, and Darling Harbour. Following the war the ferry was fitted with a General Motors Detroit 6-71 US engine found in an army store along the Parramatta River west of Sydney. This engine is still operational today.

Until the 1970s ETTALONG STAR operated as a ferry in Sydney Harbour, for a period also under the name MV PROFOUND. In 1951 an aft saloon was built on the vessel, and modifications were made to the gangway for increased efficiency in embarking and disembarking passengers. In 1974-5 a large majority of the deck was replaced by Graham Burgess using traditional methods and materials, and the cream and burnt orange colour livery was painted on the vessel.

During the 1980s the vessel was renamed WANGI QUEEN and it began its course as a charter boat on Lake Macquarie and Port Jackson. WANGI QUEEN played a central role in Graham Burgess’ project to clean up the shores of Lake Macquarie, hosting Mayor Ivan Walsh on a trip that spurred the bicentennial event Clean the Lake in 88. Throughout this event numerous community bodies contributed to the removal of 2,300 cubic metres of rubbish. This clean up transformed Lake Macquarie from an industrial junkyard to the scenic waterfront region it is today, and inspired Ian Kiernan to lay the foundations of Clean up Australia Day.

In 2012 WANGI QUEEN was purchased by Sydney Tall Ships and was used for their Goat Island and Sydney Harbour tour Convicts, Castles and Champagne. In 2020-2021 the vessel underwent major restoration works, conducted by master shipwrights using traditional shipbuilding methods; 80% of the sponsons were replaced with spotted gum, 75% of the main deck beams were replaced with iron bark, and 60% of the lodging knees were replaced with grown knees from Tasmania and Northern NSW. A further 20% of the deck was replaced with quarter sawn old growth Oregon.

Date Constructed: 1922
Designer / Builder : Gordon Beattie

Previous Owners: Gordon Beattie, Normand Downend Hegarty, Nicholson Brothers, Stannard Brothers, Graham & Maria Burgess, Bill & Sue Gibson, Les Binkin, Marty Woods
Vessel Dimensions: 20.12 m × 4.88 m × 1.52 m, 80 tonnes (66 ft × 16 ft × 5 ft, 78.72 tons)

Addendum 2022

WANGI QUEEN is a classic example of only a few surviving early twentieth century wooden ferries and was officially heritage listed by the Australian National Maritime Museum in 2020. She is one of 800 vessels considered of national importance in Australian maritime history.

In 2022 WANGI QUEEN was purchased from Sydney Tall Ships by Shane Herrmann and Teresa Charchalis. On 15 November 2022 she sailed 18hrs from Sydney into Port Stephens, where she is now based at Lemon Tree Passage, providing private charters and ferry tours in the beautiful waters of Port Stephens-Great Lakes marine park.

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