Where have all the luggers gone?

Only a handful of Torres Strait luggers remain

From 1863 to the 1980's hundreds of pearling vessels worked the East and West coasts of Queensland, Torres Strait and for some years in the Aru Islands of Indonesia. Of these, we believe that there are only 14 identified Torres Strait pearling luggers, 1 former pearl shell carrier and 2 former Torres Strait missionary vessels remaining. 


Recent losses include the 112 year old Lugger GRAFTON A49 - the wreck of her hull removed from Port Douglas in February 2019 and FLORIA whose end is imminent.

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14 Luggers and 1 Shell Carrier Survive

ANTONIA

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ANTONIA is the first lugger that the fleet acquired. She is undergoing a full and complete restoration ready for relaunching in late 2019.

ANNIKI

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ANNIKI is preparing to make to her way  to Thursday Island or Cairns to undergo repairs and restoration following her sinking in July 2016. 

TRITON

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TRITON formerly YANCY TAUM is 85% through her complete restoration and will return to service in early 2019. Her likely home will once again be the Torres Strait.

SONGTON

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SONGTON formerly PETA RALPH NONA is in Innisfail in private ownership and has been undergoing restoration back to original configuration.

WINSTON

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WINSTON is currently based at Thursday Island in private ownership and is the sister-ship to both TRITON and SONGTON.

ISE PEARL

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ISE PEARL formerly ENVY is located in Airlie Beach and has been doing local charters throughout the Whitsundays. Now retired and in private ownership.

RUBY CHARLOTTE

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RUBY CHARLOTTE is located in the Whitsundays and still participates in the annual Hamilton Island race week. Still in original configuration.

HB

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HB is privately owned and usually seen between Port Douglas, Fitzroy Island and Cairns. In mostly original configuration and old school charm.

TORRES PEARL

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Formerly named SEDNEY, the Torres Pearl is currently located in Tasmania in private ownership. She has an aft-wheelhouse and those lugger lines.

WAITOA

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WAITOA is privately owned in Brisbane and is a potential acquisition for the fleet in 2019. The current owner donated her lugger sails to the fleet in 2018.

TRIBAL WARRIOR

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Formerly MINA, Tribal Warrior operates out of Sydney for the Tribal Warrior Association. Built in 1899 she is the oldest lugger remaining.

PACIFIC PEARL

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PACIFIC PEARL was formerly SARI RIZAH and operated in the Trochus shell industry in Mackay. Currently located in Brisbane in private hands.

PENGUIN

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PENGUIN is on permanent display at the Queensland Maritime Museum in Brisbane. Learn more about her history at the QMM website.

JOHN LOUIS

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Built in Broome she had a short stint in Torres Strait and has been restored in her Broome configuration by the Australian National Maritime Museum.

PLEAIDES Q - Shell Carrier

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PLEAIDES Q was a pearl shell carrier and has been stored in a shed in the Northern Territory awaiting relocation to our yard in Cairns for restoration.

2 Missionary/Cargo Ships

STEPHEN DAVIES

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Built by Norman Wright and Sons, the former Torres Strait missionary vessel STEPHEN DAVIES is in private hands and currently for sale based in Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast.

TORRES HERALD

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Torres Herald was also built by Norman Wright and Sons with her last known location being when she sank in 2014 in the Calliope River near Gladstone. 

2 RECENT LOSSES

GRAFTON

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GRAFTON is the latest of the fleet to be lost. Maritime Safety Queensland‘s wreck clean up has finally removed the Lugger GRAFTON and she is no more. Her masts, spars and many fittings are now living again aboard the lugger TRITON.

FLORIA

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FLORIA is not able to be restored as she has been completely destroyed by termites with her stern about to break away. We expect that she will need to be broken up in 2019. Her booms and gaffs were donated to the PLHF.