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Sailing on the Enterprize Ship in Melbourne
Last weekend, I was blessed to step aboard the Enterprize Sailing Ship.
Although I’m not a HUGE history buff myself, I can definitely appreciate the magical site of an authentic 19th century ship.
Let’s be honest… probably due to my teenage days binge watching Pirates of the Caribbean…
So, I can comfortably admit that when I was offered the opportunity to jump aboard the Enterprize, I was excited.
Not only because it allow me to witness this incredible ship with my own eyes and secretly feel like a pirate at the same time, but it also gave me an excuse to visit Williamstown.
Williamstown is located an hour away from me, all the way over the other side of the bay. A bit of a hike…
BUT, the town and its history really impressed me.
There’s a lot of unique history linked to that place, especially in relation to the founding of Melbourne.
Fun fact: It was actually one of Victoria’s earliest colonial towns.
There are also many things to do in Williamstown including:
- Visiting the HMAS Castlemaine Ship Museum
- Having a picnic in the park
- Exploring some of the old heritage-listed buildings and
- Enjoying a sail on the Enterprize, of course
If you’re looking for a new place to explore, I can highly recommend Williamstown for a weekend trip.
What’s Special About the Enterprize Sailing Ship?
Well for starters…
The Enterprize is a beautifully-crafted timber replica of the original ship that brought the first European settlers to found the city of Melbourne in 1835.
Nowadays, the Enterprize gives people the opportunity to sail onboard a 1800’s vessel, with 19th century sailing methods and 21st century comfort and safety.
The replica was built to preserve a significant part of Melbourne’s history, with hopes that it would make it more accessible to the people of Victoria.
Before I talk about my experience sailing aboard this beautiful masterpiece, let’s first explore some of its unique history.
The Enterprize and its Unique History
As part of our sail, we got to learn about the key history of the ship. It was truly fascinating to gain an insight to the ship’s background and how it came to be.
Here’s a quick summary on how it all started…
The 1830’s – The Build
The original Enterprize sailing ship was actually built in Hobart back in the 1830s. It made up part of the early coastal trading fleets of Southern Australia.
At that time, bulk cargo was often transported by sea, therefore the Enterprize’s main job was carrying cargo (including coal, livestock and building materials) from port to port.
1835 – The Founding of Melbourne
In 1835, the Enterprize was purchased by John Pascoe Fawkner to search for a suitable place to found a new settlement in the Port Phillip District.
Searching for a place to settle, the crew looked first at Western Port Bay and then at the eastern side of Port Phillip.
They eventually found the Yarra River and after pulling the ship upstream, moored the Enterprize alongside the riverbank. Nowadays, this is the location of the Melbourne Aquarium.
On August 30th 1835, the settlers disembarked and began building tents, stores and creating small vegetable farms around the area.
European settlement in Melbourne had begun.
Although the Enterprize continued to operate as a coastal trading vessel for a number of years, she was eventually wrecked on the bar of Richmond River in 1847.
Why Was the Enterprize Replica Built?
A century later, the decision was made to build a replica of the Enterprize. They saw it as a way to preserve the great Melbourne history associated with this incredible ship.
When building the Enterprize, the aim was to design a ship that was as close to the original as possible.
Problem was, there were no plans or drawings of the original ship available, which made it an incredibly challenging endeavour.
To create accurate designs, they relied on inspiration from old paintings and sketches, and used top architects to turn their dream into a reality.
In 1987, plans were made to start building the authentic Enterprize replica, which at 27-metres long, would cost them a whopping $2.5 million dollars!
Keep in mind – this was in 1987.
In today’s money, that would be the equivalent of approx $6 million dollars! Not a cheap investment.
One of the reasons that the ship was so expensive to build was because they wanted to use as many of the original materials as possible – to maintain the ship’s authenticity.
This often meant that rare materials had to be imported from all over the world. Particularly, Scotland and the Netherlands.
Her keel was laid at the Polly Woodside Maritime Museum in 1991 and she was finally completed at Williamstown. It took them 6 years to complete the build!
Finally, the Enterprize was launched into Hobson’s Bay in 1997!
My Experience Sailing on the Enterprize
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, I’ll be honest with you, the sail is unlikely to knock your socks off.
It’s very different to some of our other adventure activities. BUT, the history and character of the Enterprize sailing ship is second to none.
Sailing on this ship will definitely transport you back to another time and allow you to experience what sailing was like in the 19th century.
If that interests you, then you’ll love this.
Alternatively, if you have a rich family history that ties you back to the first settlers in Melbourne, it could be a nice way to get back in touch with your roots.
On my sail, we had some regulars who sail on the Enterprise almost monthly. For them, it’s a peaceful activity that they can do as a couple, to remind them of their family history.
What Does the Sail Involve?
Their most popular sails are the 1-1.5 hour sails from Gem Pier in Williamstown.
On the weekends, they usually do 3 or more sails per day, including a sunset sail in the evening. On a less frequent basis, they offer overnight sails and offshore programs.
Once on the ship, all you really need to do is sit back and relax.
Listen to the chants of the crew and master as they raise the sails, tack into the wind, and sail the boat towards the horizon.
The ship relies mostly on the power of the wind in its sails, therefore it’s a pretty slow and peaceful journey. Nothing to be afraid of.
Throughout the journey, the crew talk about some of the ship’s history which is interesting. You may also get the chance to practice raising or lowering the sail yourself.
Overall, it was a very nice and peaceful experience.
It’s a great option if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, enjoy a new experience or simply explore the area or history of Williamstown.
I’m Not Great on Boats. Do I need Sea-sickness Tablets?
Based on my experience, the ride was very smooth. I personally didn’t need them.
Everyone else on the boat seemed unaffected too.
For the shorter sails, you tend to stay within the Port Philip Bay area, where the waves are flat with minimal rocking and turbulence.
If you’re doing a tour that involves venturing out to the ocean, then that may be a very different story.
How to Book a Sail on the Enterprize Sailing Ship
In summary, the Enterprize is a great experience to try if you want to:
- So something relaxing and soothing, away from the busyness of Melbourne
- Do day trip to explore Williamstown
- Take the fam on a day out on the town
- Learn more about the history of Williamstown of the founders of Melbourne.
Interested giving it a go?
Amazing. You’re going to have such a great time!
To learn more about the ship and book a date, ensure to check out their website below.