FLAGSTAFF Hill Maritime Village’s prowess in boat building has won it a contract for the construction of a 16.5-metre-long replica of the Lady Nelson brig for the City of Mount Gambier.
The village’s resident boat builders are overseeing a project to construct the brig that will replace a replica that has sat outside the Mount Gambier visitor information centre.
Flagstaff Hill manager Peter Abbott said the project had drawn upon the boat building skills of the village’s master shipwright, Jeff McMurrich.
It involves the construction of a new hull and the restoration of masts and rigging.
The new fibreglass hull, which replaces a wooden one that has rotted beyond repair, is being made by Warrnambool firm Fibre Infusion Australia (FIA) at its Strong Street premises and will be moulded to resemble the planks of a timber hull.
Mr Abbott said plans for the design had been sourced from Tasmania, where there is another replica of the Lady Nelson.
Flagstaff Hill worked with a Gippsland boat designer and FIA to adapt the original plans to the replica’s landlocked role outside the Mount Gambier tourist office.
The new design aims to overcome drainage problems from the ship’s deck that were a major cause of rot.
The new hull will house an education room for visitors — the deck above being raised higher than in the original Lady Nelson, built in 1798, to provide more headroom for today’s much taller adults.
Mr Abbott said the Lady Nelson was the first major boat project that Flagstaff Hill had carried out off-site and it was keen to do more.
“We have brought work to Warrnambool,” he said.
The replica, which is about 5.5 metres wide, is expected to be completed in about three weeks.
The original Lady Nelson was built in England and was the first ship to sail through Bass Strait from west to east. On the voyage, its captain Lieutenant James Grant sighted and named Mount Gambier, where the modern day regional city is located.
The Lady Nelson brig replica at Mount Gambier was built in the mid-1980s as a work program.