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WA Maritime Museum

WA Maritime Museum

WA Maritime Museum

WA Maritime Museum is located on Victoria Quay Fremantle and contains collections focused on the Indian Ocean, the Swan River, fishing, maritime trade, and naval defense. The museum features the yacht, Australia II, which won the America’s Cup in 1983 and is located in the historical Maritime Heritage Precinct, which includes the entrance to Fremantle Inner Harbour.

Immediately next to the WA Maritime Museum on the WWII slipway is HMAS Ovens, an Oberon class submarine, which also highlights the World War II Fremantle allied submarine base, which was the largest submarine base in the southern hemisphere, with 170 submarines of the British, Dutch and US navies conducting patrols from this area.

Highlights of the WA Maritime Museum

A Tour of the WA Maritime Museum

  • Australia II
    • Australia II (KA 6) is a 12-meter-class America’s Cup challenge racing yacht that won the 1983 America’s Cup for the Royal Perth Yacht Club. She was the first successful Cup challenger, ending a 132-year tenure with 26 successful defenses by the New York Yacht Club.

      Australia II was designed by Ben Lexcen and featured a reduced waterline length and a short chord winged keel which gave the boat a significant advantage in maneuverability and lower ballast center of gravity. The winged keel was a major design advance, and its legality was questioned by the New York Yacht Club. During the summer of 1983, as selection trials took place for the Cup defense that autumn, the New York Yacht Club challenged the legality of the keel design. The controversy was decided in Australia II’s favor.

  • HMAS Ovens
    • HMAS Ovens (S 70) was an Oberon-class submarine of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The vessel was named for Irishman and Australian explorer John Ovens (1788-1825) and for whom the Victorian river Ovens was named. Ovens was the first RAN submarine to deploy with the ANZUK force.

      Ovens became the first RAN submarine to fire an armed Mark 48 torpedo when she sank the decommissioned Bathurst-class corvette HMAS Colac in 1987. On her return to port, Ovens flew a ‘Jolly Roger’ to indicate a successful mission. The first time a RAN submarine had done so.

  • American Whaleboat ‘Beetle’
    • This is a full-size and fully fitted replica of an original American Whaleboat known as a ‘Beetle’. Whaleboats were designed to be strong and maneuverable enough to chase whales in the roughest of seas. They were launched from larger whaling vessels and the crew pursued, killed and then towed whales back to the ship for processing. This whaleboat is called a ‘Beetle’ after James Beetle the American designer who built over 1,000 whaleboats between 1834 and 1854 in New Bedford, United States.

      Whaleboats carried about 400 kilograms of equipment. The careful storage of equipment was important for the effective operation of the whaleboat. The earliest American whaling ships visited Australian waters in 1792 laying the foundations for the Western Australian whaling industry.

  • Ikara Missile
    • The Ikara missile was an Australian developed anti-submarine missile, named after an Aboriginal word for “throwing stick”. It launched an acoustic torpedo allowing fast-reaction attacks against submarines at ranges that would otherwise require the launching ship too close for an attack, placing itself at risk.

      Also, by flying to the general area of the target, the engagement time was dramatically reduced, giving the target less time to respond. Submariners obviously disliked it and referred to IKARA as: “Insufficient Knowledge And Random Action”.

  • Megamouth Shark
    • The Megamouth Shark is a species of deepwater shark first discovery in 1976. It is rarely seen by humans and is the smallest filter-feeding sharks along with the whale shark and basking shark.  The first megamouth was captured in 1976 about 25 miles off the coast of Hawaii when it became entangled in the sea anchor of United States Navy ship.

      It swims with its enormous mouth wide open, filtering water for plankton and jellyfish. It is distinctive for its large head with rubbery lips. It is so unlike any other type of shark that it is usually considered to be the sole extant species in its distinct family. Megamouth sharks have soft bodies, flabby muscles, and skeletons that are poorly calcified. These features help megamouth sharks to swim very slowly without sinking.

  • The Dutch Galliot ‘t Weseltje
    • This ship model is of the Dutch Galliot ‘t Weseltje. The original was built by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and was part of Willem de Vlamingh’s expedition to explore and survey the dangerous coasts of Western Australia in 1696.

      The ‘t Weseltje was the smallest ship in the fleet with a shallow draft which would prove very useful for exploring close to the coast and was one of the first European ships to explore the Swan River and at Shark Bay. During this historic voyage, de Vlamingh recovered Hartog’s plate and left one of his own for posterity, which is known as the de Vlamingh Plate.

  • Mariner’s Astrolabe from the Vergulde Draeck
    • This Mariner’s Astrolabe was salvaged from the Dutch ship, Vergulde Draeck, which was wrecked off the west coast of Australia in 1659. It was adopted from the type used on land by the ancient Greeks and later the Indians, Persians, and Arabs.

      The mariner’s astrolabe was used to determine the latitude of a ship at sea by measuring the sun’s noon altitude or the meridian altitude of a star of known declination. The mariner’s astrolabe was a graduated circle with an alidade used to measure vertical angles. They are a version of the astrolabe proper and were designed to be used on ships in the rough water and heavy winds.

    • Parry Endeavour
      • The Parry Endeavour is the yacht which completed a record triple circumnavigation of the world in under 658 days. During this period, lone sailor, Jon Sanders, never set foot on land or had another person onboard. He survived on the provisions taken onboard when he first departed Fremantle, Australia and his only contact with the outside world was electronic communication and some parcels of mail thrown to him from passing vessel.

        Jon Sanders, born 1939 is an Australian yachtsman and his yacht the Parry Endeavour was named after Captain James Cook’s converted coal hulk, Endeavour and his major sponsor Kevin Parry.

    WA Maritime Museum

    • Name:                       WA Maritime Museum
    • Location:                   Victoria Quay, Peter Hughes Dr, Fremantle WA
    • City:                           Perth

    A Tour of Maritime Museums

    A Tour of Museum Ships


    “‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”


    Photo Credit: GM

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