About the listing
The Port Fairy lifeboat was built in Williamstown in 1857 and is the oldest surviving self-righting, self-draining lifeboat in the world. Co-incidentally, its sister boat, Portland, also survives (Portland Maritime Discovery Centre).
The Port Fairy vessel is housed in its original lifeboat house, and is regularly taken to sea by a volunteer crew. Last Year, it was sailed to Portland and back to participate in the 150th anniversary of the wreck of the steamship Admella, to which the Portland
lifeboat attended and saved 19 lives.
The Port Fairy vessel was decommissioned as a lifeboat at the beginning of World War 2, and subsequently used as a dredge in the Moyne, before being discarded on the river bank in 1975. A small group in the community, with the support of the Borough of Port Fairy, raised funds and co-ordinated the reconstruction of the lifeboat in 1995 and the impressive vessel was re-launched in January, 1997. Since then, there have been over 100 voyages (relying upon oars (10) and sail ( a traditional dipping lug form, made in 1997 in traditional canvas) into Port Fairy bay, to Portland and, for its 150th birthday, was transported to Hobart to participate in the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in 2007.
The boat has been carefully restored to represent the vessel in 1888 (based on a photograph at that time, and in the paint colours of the period. The lifeboat house was built in 1861 (in the bay, out from East Beach), before relocation on the Moyne in 1872, when it was fitted with a slipway. Close by is an intact Rocket House, which contains an extraordinary collection of 19 and early 20th century maritime rescue equipment. The boat, buildings and rescue collection are listed on the Victorian Heritage Register