"The History Of The Steam Tug Wattle"

The WattleTrials And Early days:   The Steam Tug Wattle is one of only a few steamers still surviving in Australian waters.  She has a colourful history and is an extremely important part of the nation's heritage.

Classified by the National Trust, S.T. Wattle was built at Cockatoo Dock in Sydney in 1932-1933, and was the last ship to be built there whilst the Island was under the control of the Commonwealth Shipping Board.

The tug was originally built as a speculative venture and was given the name "Codock" during the construction and re-named the "Wattle" on handing over to Garden island.

The building of this tug enabled many of the Island's apprentices to be kept in employment when most of the Dockyard employees were only working one week in four.

EmblemAt this time, apprentices only worked six weeks our of seven and then had to make up for time lost to complete their apprenticeship.

On 27th June, 1933, the then "Codock" was lifted into the water by the crane Titan.  With steel work complete, wooden deck laid and most of the auxiliaries in place.  The lifting weight was 55 tons (55.8 tonnes).

The first trials took place in November 1933. A mean speed of 10.6 knots at 133rpm was reached with the tug in light conditions (118 tons/119.9 tonnes) at the end of the trial.

Engineering Perspective (PDF 600kb) 

Brief History by Capt RC Hope (PDF 180kb)

WattleAfter being de-commissioned from the Navy in 1962 the wattle was purchased by a syndicate in Sydney and was later donated to the Victorian Steam Ship company for prosperity.  She then spent many years running around the bay until 2003 when it was decided she needed to undergo refurbishment to keep her as a heritage ship.   A planned $35 million maritime heritage seaport at Williamstown sadly never went ahead, almost sank several of Victoria's historic vessels, and so the Wattle's future was uncertain.

The ST Wattle On The Bay Today:

wattle coming inRecently The Wattle has found some new benefactors and so, refurbishment was finally possible and are currently underway.  This refurbishment is the latest chapter in a Grand Old lady Of The Sea, and this means that your function, celebration or event will be remembered for it's stylish old-world charm and unique glimpse of a refined past.

Sorrento Steam Pty Ltd was founded in 2007 to recreate a steam presence in Port Phillip Bay in which the ST Wattle played such a big part, and to bring attention to the fascinating history of places such as Sorrento, and Point Nepean and the South Channelk Fort.