About Us

Our maritime history lives on, and it’s yours to share!
About Us - Picture of the fleet on Sydney Harbour
The Fleet on Sydney Harbour

“The Lady Hopetoun and Port Jackson Marine Steam Museum”, the forerunner of the Sydney Heritage Fleet, was founded in 1965 by a group of public-spirited individuals to preserve Sydney’s 1902 VIP steam yacht Lady Hopetoun. The organisation later became known as the Sydney Maritime Museum Ltd. In 1998 the museum adopted the trading name Sydney Heritage Fleet. The Fleet now comprises 10 historical vessels which is amongst the largest such collection in Australia.

A community-based non-profit organisation, the Fleet’s mission is:

To build and maintain an internationally recognised centre of excellence in maritime heritage for the benefit of all Australians by presenting through research, acquisition, conservation, restoration, education and operation, our continuing maritime history.

The Fleet is funded by donations, bequests, grants, members’ subscriptions, vessel charters, and paying passengers on harbour cruises, ocean sailings and alongside visitors.

The Fleet’s 1200 strong membership and 450 dedicated volunteer workers restore, operate and maintain the fleet of vintage vessels. In the process they preserve traditional technical methods and skills.

The independent Sydney Maritime Museum Trust owns all of the assets, described as the Sydney Maritime Museum Collection, and Sydney Heritage Fleet has exclusive use of the Collection. The purpose of the Trust is to ensure that the Collection is kept intact for the future.

The Fleet’s oldest vessel, the 1874 iron barque James Craig, has been fully restored and regularly puts to sea under full sail. The Fleet also operates three of the most historically significant vessels on Sydney Harbour: the 1902 steam tug Waratah, the 1902 VIP steam launch Lady Hopetoun and the 1903 schooner Boomerang.

Under restoration are the 1912 ferry Kanangra, the 1950s wooden speed boat Kookaburra II and the 1927 pilot vessel John Oxley.

The Fleet also has 55 small heritage boats and one of the largest collections of marine engines in Australia which are being restored and conserved. The Fleet’s collection includes over fifty model ships, including models of some of the Fleet’s own vessels.

The Fleet’s Maritime Records and Research Centre maintains a comprehensive research library and archive which includes photographs, ships’ plans, diaries, logs and journals.

The Sydney Heritage Fleet made significant contributions towards the establishment of the Australian National Maritime Museum which opened at Darling Harbour in 1991. The two organisations play complementary roles, the Sydney Heritage Fleet placing its emphasis on preservation, restoration and operation of heritage vessels.