The Replica Enterprize


The replica Enterprize was built so that a significant part of Melbourne’s history would be preserved and made accessible to the people of Victoria. Planning of the 27-metre vessel began in 1989. Her keel was laid at the Polly Woodside Maritime Museum in 1991 and she was completed in the old Ports and Harbours Yard at Williamstown. The $2.5 million vessel was launched by Felicity Kennett on Saturday, August 30th, 1997 at Hobson’s Bay.

Enterprize is the only square-rigged commercial sailing ship to be built in Melbourne for over 120 years. The task of bringing the ship to life from keel-laying to launching involved six years of dedicated work by a small core group of craftsmen assisted by many volunteers, both male and female. The final result is a great tribute to their enthusiasm and to the generosity of the many people and organisations who contributed money and materials.  The ship continues to be run and maintained by a crew of trained volunteers from all walks of life, and is held in trust for the people of Victoria by the Enterprize Ship Trust.

Enterprize now gives people of all ages the opportunity to experience life on board a nineteenth-century sailing ship.


Enterprize is an all-timber, carvel-planked, two-masted topsail schooner,  single-decked and square-transomed, with crossing yards on her foremast. She has been traditionally constructed using Australian- and New Zealand-grown timbers.

It was determined that the replica Enterprize would be as close to the original ship as possible. This was not easy, as there were no copies of the original plans. However, painstaking work by naval architects and shipwrights, using information gathered from the few paintings and sketches of the original Enterprize and shipping registration details from the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, resulted in the plans which were used for the project.

It was also determined that the replica would use the same materials as the original ship, where possible. This meant the sails would not be machine-sewn from modern synthetic sailcloth, but hand-sewn from flax cloth imported from Scotland. The standing and running rigging would not use modern materials of stainless steel wire and synthetic rope but the natural fibre hemp, imported from the Netherlands and protected with coatings of Stockholm tar.

Wooden boat-building methods have not changed very much over the years and so craftsmen with traditional skills were acquired. Much of the timber used in the construction of Enterprize was recycled from a variety of sources:

  • Her keel is a single piece of ironbark, 15 inches by 13 inches and 45 feet long
  • Her stem, sternpost and deadwoods are 100-year-old ironbark wharf timbers, supplied by Nullabor Timbers of Echuca
  • She is built on laminated bent ribs. The outer three laminations are New Zealand kauri, salvaged from the staves of old brewing vats. The top lamination is celery top pine, as is her deck planking
  • Her hull is planked in jarrah below the waterline. This timber was once the floor joists of a wool store in Fremantle, WA. Above the waterline, her hull is planked in Huon pine
  • Her floor timbers are jarrah, salvaged from Station Pier, Melbourne
  • Her stringers and beam-shelf are kauri
  • Her bulwarks are cypress pine from the Royal Melbourne Golf Course
  • Her masts are Californian redwood from an experimental timber crop planted at Kinglake by Melbourne Water in the 1920s
  • Her spars and deck beams are Oregon pine


Length over deck                         16.1m (53’)
Length overall                               27m (88’6”)
Beam                                               5.4m (18’4”)
Draft                                                 3m (10’)
Height—Mast to Deck                 17.7m (58’)
Height—Mast to Waterline        19.1m (62’6”)
Displacement                                70 tonnes
Sail Area                                          2000 sq ft
Engine                                             Cummins 613T Diesel