Restoration of the Matilda

TasPorts recently renewed its partnership with the City of Hobart to host the Matilda at Constitution Dock alongside May Queen and Westward.


03 July 2023

TasPorts is committed to preserving and promoting Tasmania’s rich maritime heritage and takes great pride in supporting charitable organisations, events, and activities throughout Tasmania to help achieve this goal.

As part of our commitment, we extend our support to several historic vessels berthed at Constitution Dock in the Port of Hobart through our Community Partnerships program.

We recently renewed our partnership with the City of Hobart to host the Matilda at Constitution Dock alongside May Queen and Westward. These historic vessels don’t just hold significant historical value; they also have great stories to tell.

Let’s delve deeper into Matilda’s story.

Matilda is a historic double-ended wooden fishing boat constructed in Hobart in the late 1880s. The boat was designed as a double-ended open fishing vessel, a common craft used for fishing in the Derwent Estuary and its surrounding areas during that era.

In 1895, Matilda came under the ownership of professional fisherman James Moody, who renamed the boat after his wife, Matilda. It operated primarily around the Tasman Peninsula. Notably, after the Tasman Island lighthouse was commissioned in 1906, Matilda played a significant role in the mail run to the Tasman Lighthouse for over four decades. It transported essential supplies, building materials, and passengers, including the wives of lighthouse keepers who returned to Hobart to give birth.

Later, Hobart fisherman Les Bennett brought Matilda to Constitution Dock, where he directly sold his catch to the public. The boat also achieved success by winning the Fishing Boat Race at the 1955 Royal Hobart Regatta. Eventually, Matilda was returned to Port Arthur and displayed at the site.

In 1999, the Port Arthur Historic Site Authority transferred Matilda to the City of Hobart, which undertook a restoration project. The focus was on refurbishing the topsides and ensuring the hull was watertight. Matilda is now housed on a display pontoon in Constitution Dock to preserve the original historic fabric. It is one of the few remaining Tasmanian working vessels from that period and serves as a testament to the maritime heritage of Tasmania.

The wooden vessel Matilda, displayed on a pontoon in Constitution Dock.

Find out more information about our community partnerships and how your community group can get involved on our Community Engagement page.