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Boat Building

Built by Mr Arthur Davis, of Empire Bay, and his three sons, the Erina ll (80 tons) was constructed solely of timbers hewn from the bush near Empire Bay. The building of the boat took a year, and was done entirely by hand using axes, adzes and hammers on the foreshore at Empire Bay. The shipyard being near 28 Sorrento Road. The Erina ll was fitted with diesel motors in Sydney.

On Saturday 25 August, 1934, the Erina ll, decked with bunting and a good crowd in attendance, was ready for her launch. The crowd was excited, with fine words from the owner, Captain Childs, the champagne was splashed across her bow and the Erina ll was launched! Or was it?

With a fast ebbing tide the launching was in trouble. The Erina ll slid 12 feet then rested firmly in the mud!! It was a few days later, with a rising tide and ropes attached to pines trees at Davistown, the Erina ll was finally pulled free and floated safely into Cockle Creek. The twin pines are still there today.

Ship building was an important industry in Brisbane Water, especially at Davistown, Kincumber, Daley’s Point and Bensville. However, of the 500 ships built in Brisbane Water, only 2 were built at Empire Bay. The Betsey (1831) and the Erina ll (1934).

Erina ll was regarded highly in the coastal cargo and passenger trade between Narooma, Sydney and Gosford. In 1942 the ship was at war in PNG, covered in war paint, 50mm calibre machine guns mounted on the bow and stern, transporting commandoes, food and ammunition to the northern beaches of PNG. After the war, Erina ll, with many bullets holes, returned to civilian service. Her final years were served transporting cargo and passengers between Brisbane and PNG. Sadly, in 1954 she ran aground near Madang (northern PNG), and within a few days broke up and disappeared from sight.

by Robert Thompson

Sources: SMH Mon 27 August 1934, and “The Shipbuilders of Brisbane Water”, Gwen Dundon

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