Maritime Museum at Southbank



Lighthouses and navigational beacons are built on solid ground, even those in shipping channels. The Light Ship evolved from the need for a beacon to be located on the edge of shoal waters where it was impossible to construct a permanent structure. Two such vessels were located off the Queensland coast, one off Sandy Cape, on the northern tip of Fraser Island, and the other in the western approaches to Torres Strait.

CLS 2 Carpentaria was one of 4 identical vessels, designed by Messrs D & C Stevenson of Edinburgh, Scotland and built at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Sydney in 1917 for the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service (later the Federal Department of Transport). The vessels were used in pairs; while one was on station, the other was in port under maintenance. Each year, the replacement would be towed to position and the one that had been on station would be towed back to port for refit. The vessels on location were also checked 4 times a year. The Carpentarias operated out of Cairns.




The former HMAS Diamantina is a River Class Frigate, designed in Great Britain and built in Australia. Although designed as an anti-submarine vessel, her primary duties were in bombardment support of army operations. Her seven sister ships, also built in Australia, were Barcoo, Barwon, Burdekin, Gascoyne, Hawkesbury, Lachlan and Macquarie. Diamantina was named after the Diamantina River in Queensland. The river was named after Countess Diamantina Roma Bowen, wife of the first Governor of Queensland,


Her significance to World War 2 maritime history is immense:

  • She is one of only 2 surviving World War 2 veterans in the world upon which surrenders were signed
  • She is the only survivor of a class of some 140 ships which saw extensive and successful service as convoy escorts in the Atlantic
  • She is the largest World War 2 ship surviving in Australia

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At our wharf see the powerful steam tug Forceful. Built in 1925 Forceful served the port of Brisbane for 45 years, being the last coal fired tug in operation. Upon being donated to the Museum, she was preserved as a working vessel, making regular trips down the Brisbane River to Moreton Bay. However, the cost in maintaining her sea-worthiness has become beyond the Museum’s resources and she will be maintained as a floating exhibit.

In Brisbane, Forceful was employed mainly in the Brisbane River. In July, 1926, she went to the aid of Cooma, stranded on North Reef, off Heron Island. As the ship was being towed off the reef, the towline snapped and Cooma again grounded, where she remained until destroyed by fire some months later. In September, 1926, Forceful went to the aid of the Rio Claro, grounded on Scott’s Reef, near Cairns. Forceful teamed with another tug to tow Rio Claro off. Forceful’s finest hour was February, 1929 when she assisted towing the stricken steamer Arafura through a cyclone some 300km to Brisbane.



Jessica Watson’s Pink Lady..

Inspired in her turn by Kay Cottee, the first woman to sail solo non-stop unassisted around the world and by Jesse Martin, the youngest person to do so, Jessica Watson set her sights on beating Jesse’s achievement and stopped the nation when she sailed back into Sydney Harbour on 15 May, 2010.


In the grounds is the ex-Bulwer Island Tower which came to the Museum from its location near the Brisbane River mouth where it operated from 1912 to 1983. The Tower is a perfect example of the type of construction unique to Queensland.

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Every Maritime Museum needs a pirate..and Pirate Pete wanders around Southbank….


Published by ladymaggic

Artist, Traveller, Researcher and Writer, currently living on the waterfront, Ooncooncoon Bay, Russell Island., where I photograph daily sunrises, sunsets and the Moon, as well as the changing colours and lights of the Bay and those who use it...the ferries, yachts, boats and the wild life... Travel photos and videos about many places in Australia​

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