The natural deep water of Twofold Bay has provided food and shelter for all manner of vessels throughout time. Being the last safe harbour before entering Bass Strait, Twofold Bay and Snug Cove continue to be an important port of call for a range of mariners.
Bark canoes, fishing and cargo vessels, recreational watercraft, passenger ships and naval vessels (including minesweepers and submarines) have all used the waters of the Sapphire Coast. An incredibly vast history can therefore be found associated with Twofold Bay and the coastline. We invite you to explore these in our permanent galleries which feature some of the region’s significant local craft together with stories and artefacts that reflect on the importance of navigating the coast, including tales of shipwrecks and survival.
image: Topsy crossing the Mallacoota bar. Original source unknown. The T4 Gardner marine engine at Eden Killer Whale Museum.
Topsy and the Gardner marine engine
Built by Hayes of Balmain in 1904, the 38 foot ketch, Topsy, was designed by local boat builder, Ike Warren (1869-1955). She was used to bring fish, maize and other cargo from Victoria and her adapted design meant she was more easily able to navigate across river bars, such as those found at Mallacoota and Lakes Entrance.
Originally powered by a Frisco Standard engine, an oil engine was installed in 1906 by new owners Frederick and Herbert Buckland. In April that year, a seaman went below and struck a match near the oil tank causing an enormous explosion that threw crew overboard and resulted in Topsy sinking. She was rebuilt at Mallacoota and continued cargo runs along the NSW-Victoria coast until 1949 with various owners and operators including N Hegarty, J Foley, J Gray, Palmer and Dahlsen.
At Metung in 1927, this Gardner T4 marine engine was installed on Topsy providing more power for the coastal runs. At some point she was also lengthened by 16-20 feet.
Late 1934, Topsy’s fate was uncertain for a time, having been blown ashore during rough weather and taking many attempts over five weeks to right her before she could finally return to port.
Around 1943, Topsy was purchased by Eden fisherman, Bill Warn, who used her as a trawler in the absence of his vessel that had been acquired by the Navy for the war efforts.
Topsy was eventually put ashore near Eden wharf and the engine removed for a complete overhaul but was never used again. She was eventually pulled apart and the timbers burnt in early 1960.
Topsy’s Gardner engine was gifted to the Museum by Mr Ron Doyle in 1982.
A model of the ketch built and donated by local fisherman, Les Warren, sits alongside.
Click on the above cover image to find out more of the history and workings of the T4 Gardner engine in their promotional catalogue (EM2884)
See page 9 in the above catalogue for more about rods
See page 11 on the above catalogue for more information about forward and reverse operations