Not many passenger boats have survived a near miss with a torpedo and a close-call with a scrapheap, but today, the Mount Pleasant traverses the seas as beautifully as ever.
The 101-year-old former Sydney ferry, who now calls Batemans Bay home, is at first-glance modest, but she holds an important place in Australia’s war history.
The vessel was moored next to the HMAS Kuttabul on May 31, 1942, when Japanese submarines attacked Sydney Harbour.
This week marks 75 years since the attack, which claimed 21 lives.
Former Australian War Memorial curator, Gary Traynor, of Moruya, will commemorate the anniversary in Sydney on May 31 with Mount Pleasant’s owner Simon Mitchell.
“Mount Pleasant was there alongside Kuttabul when the attack happened, so it just makes it so special,” Mr Traynor said.
It is understood the Mount Pleasant was involved in the search and recovery effort after the attack.
While the Mount Pleasant emerged from the attack unscathed, decades of being on land left her worse for wear.
The ferry was destined for the tip until her restoration in 2013, at the hands of Mr Mitchell, partner Danielle Smith, shipwright Sam Aspinall and others.
For close to 20 years, the boat was in the hands of Mr Aspinall’s parents, and occupied a plot of land overlooking the Clyde River.
“It either needed to be restored or it was going to be destroyed,” Mr Aspinall told the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner.
“If Simon hadn’t taken her on, she would’ve ended up as firewood.”
In just 53 weeks, the vessel was returned to her former glory and is a evocative sight on Batemans Bay waters.
Mount Pleasant was there alongside Kuttabul when the attack happened, so it just makes it so special.- Gary Traynor
Ms Smith said the historic boat was a reminder of a former time for many onlookers.
“We’ve had so many people, even along the Clyde River, come up to us and say: ‘Hey, what’s a Sydney ferry doing down here? I used to travel on one when I was a little girl,’” Ms Smith said.
“It’s got a personal connection for many people. When you see this boat, you know she’s a Sydney ferry.
“These kinds of boats have touched a lot of different people’s lives.”
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