The History

The History

1946 – 1975

Commissioned by Captain Robert Ryall, the pioneer of the Cronulla to Bundeena ferry service, MV-Bundeena was built in Lavender Bay, Sydney by W Holmes Bros and launched on 4th October 1946.

Capt. Ryall was so impressed by the performance of the smaller MV- Curranulla, with a capacity of 133 passengers that he commissioned a scaled up replica of the vessel. Built to the max length permissible under the captains “Blue Ticket” at seventy feet, she was capable of carrying 198 passengers.

Lavender Bay & McMahons Point ship yard
Lavender Bay & McMahons Point ship yard

Following the launching, she was owned by Capt Ryall for a period of six months before being sold to Mr Cliff Mallam.  Cliff continued to operate her on the Cronulla to Bundeena service until 1965. In late 1965 the Bundeena was bought by Jack Gowland and continued to operate on the Cronulla to Bundeena service.

1975 – 1977

The Tasman Bridge disaster occurred in January 1975 when in when the bulk carrier Lake Illawarra travelling up the Derwent River in Hobart collided with several pylons of the Tasman Bridge. A large section of the bridged collapsed onto the ship and into the river below.

The collapse of the Tasman Bridge isolated the two sides of the city, the bridge having being the major transport link across the river.

With an urgent need for a transport link across the river, a Tasmanian ferry operator by the name of Ray Larrson purchased the Bundeena from Jack Gowland and relocated her to Hobart to be put into service to assist the residents of Hobart.

The Bundeena sailed across the Tasman sea from Sydney to Hobart, having to be hand steered en route. A stop was made at Eden on the NSW South coast to replace two broken tappets.

A few weeks after reaching Hobart, the Kelvin engine was retired and replaced with the current Scania,6 Cylinder.

The Larrson’s continue to operate the Bundeena on the service between Hobart and Lindisfarne for over two years.

The Bundeena seen here at Elizabeth Street Pier, Hobart

1978 – 1985

In 1978 the vessel was purchased by Terry Hodgson, a tour company operator in Stratham, West Tasmania. Terry took a unique approach and requested permission to operate the Bundeena on Lake Pedder. A special cradle was built by Elliot Brothers and the boat was transported overland from Strahan to Lake Pedder, operating as a sight seeing service on the lake.

1985 – 2002

In 1985 The Bundeena moved to the to the Port Arthur historic site, a former convict settlement built in the 18th & 19th century. A popular tourist spot, the Bundeena operated as a sight seeing tour from Port Arthur travelling past the Isle of the Dead cemetery.

Annually the Bundeena would take 180,000 passengers on over 2,200 trips, a distance of 75,000 nautical miles.

2002 – 2008

In 2002 the Bundeena returned to Sydney waters.  Moored at the Spit Bridge in Middle Harbour, the Bundeena was tasked as a floating office for the Blue Sky media company.

2008 – Present

From 2008 the Bundeena returned to work on Sydney Harbour. Operating as a charter vessel the Bundeena is now based back in Lavender Bay, some seventy years after first being launched there.



Capacity for x 198 passengers + 2 crew

Originally powered by a K4 – 4 Cylinder Kelvin hand start diesel engine

Re-powered in 1975 with current Scania, 11L 6 cylinder diesel

Frames – Spotted Gum

Hull Planking –

Keel to water line – Spotted gum

Above water line Oregon pine

Cabin – Oregon Pine window frames & plywood bulwarks

bundeena_adminThe History