Built around 1886 and named for his wife Matilda by fisherman James Moody in 1895, this modest vessel is one of the oldest preserved fishing boats of its kind in the world. A double-ended fishing boat like this would have been common in the waters around southeastern Tasmania right up until the 1940s.
The Matilda carried passengers to and from the Tasman Island Lighthouse after it was commissioned in 1906. But after Charley Moody entered the Merchant Navy during World War II, it was sold to a family who used it for recreation and crayfishing.
Hobart fisherman Les Bennett was the next owner, and he sold his catch directly to the public from his mooring here at Constitution Dock, even picking up a winner’s medal when he won the Fishing Boat Race at the 1955 Hobart Regatta. Bennett retired in 1974, and the Matilda eventually ended up back in Hobart Harbor on display, where later it was restored by the local City Council and placed on a raised pontoon.
Over the years, the boat had been modified many times, but the more restoration took it back to its look in the 1940s, though it originally wouldn’t have had the engine or aft (rear) cabin you see now.
Know Before You Go
Alongside the Matilda is the 42-foot cutter Westward, the only Tasmanian yacht to have twice won the Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race on handicap (in 1947 and 1948). It was gifted to the nearby Maritime Museum of Tasmania by Stan Field, who had owned if for 55 years.