Returning the ML Egeria Bell

TasPorts returns the original bell from the ML Egeria, which had been gifted to the Hobart Ports Authority in 1997, to the Motor Yacht Club of Tasmania.


06 March 2023

Originally published in the Maritime Times of Tasmania, March 2023.

ML Egeria is an iconic feature of southern Tasmania’s maritime landscape. Commissioned by the Marine Board of Hobart in the late 1930s, the wooden motor launch was to become the Harbour Master’s Launch and Vice-Regal vessel for the River Derwent.

Designed by John Thornycroft in England in 1937, Egeria was built in the Purdon & Featherston yard at Battery Point and launched on 20 October, 1941.

Since then, it has performed various duties, from patrolling the Derwent for the Royal Australian Navy to carrying visiting dignitaries.

TasPorts, as successor to the Marine Board and the Hobart Ports Corporation, inherited ML Egeria in 2006 and, recognising that TasPorts were unable to care for it as required, transferred ownership to the Motor Yacht Club of Tasmania, who continue to act as worthy custodians of the vessel today.

In consultation with the Maritime Museum of Tasmania, it was recently verified that a bell in TasPorts’ possession was the original bell from the ML Egeria, which had been gifted to the Hobart Ports Authority in 1997.

In 2021, in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the vessel, TasPorts was delighted to see this important piece of maritime history safely reunited with the vessel and its proud owners, the Motor Yacht Club of Tasmania.

TasPorts recognises the ML Egeria’s essential place within Tasmania’s rich maritime history and is proud to provide ongoing support to the current custodians of this historic vessel.

Egeria Bell1

ML Egeria | a brief history

A classic antique vessel, the ML Egeria is a Huon Pine carvel motor launch with teak combings and white beech decking. It measures 18.9m and was named after HMS Egeria, flagship for the Hobart Regattas of January 1888 and 1889 and an early survey vessel in Tasmanian waters.

The ML Egeria was commandeered by the Royal Australian Navy as a harbour defence vessel during World War II, after which it resumed its intended role as the executive vessel for the Marine Board of Hobart.

Initially built as the Harbour Master’s Launch, it later became popularly known as the Governor’s Launch, conveying many distinguished guests, including Royalty and Tasmanian Governors, around the Derwent.

The late Queen Elizabeth II and the late Duke of Edinburgh were transported to the Hobart Regatta aboard ML Egeria. The then Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana are also among the royal guests on board.

In Capital Port, A History of the Marine Board of Hobart, it is noted it ‘undertook no common tasks, but carried important visitors on tours of the port and appeared on all ceremonial occasions.’.

The vessel also has the honour of being the flagship of the renowned biennial Australian Wooden Boat Festival.

More recently, ship Captain Bernie Smith and Motor Yacht Club of Tasmania volunteers completed significant restoration works on the vessel’s hull, seeing it returned to her former glory.

ML Egeria