Great Barrier Reef Australia - Whitsundays Sailing Adventures
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   Derwent Hunter

66 Years Working Under Sail

The Derwent Hunter was designed and built in 1946 by Walter Wilson, a second generation shipwright from the famous Wilson Brothers’ shipwrights of Port Cygnet, southern Tasmania. She was built of blue gum, Tasmanian oak, celery top pine and Huon pine, which are regarded as some of the best ship building timbers in the world. Sixty six years later, after numerous refits and refurbishments, the Derwent Hunter is still turning heads today, as she leaves many modern yachts in her wake.

20 Years in the Whitsundays

The Derwent Hunter has been sailing the sheltered waters of the Whitsunday Islands for 20 years and is multi award winning for Adventure and Eco Tourism. The Derwent Hunter has been delighting guests by offering traditional sailing, snorkelling, eco interpretation, the sharing of knowledge about the Whitsundays’ original inhabitants, the Ngaro aboriginal people, the local ecology and geology. Through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), the vessel also participates in Marine Park research programs, ensuring that the reef and islands will be there to enjoy for years to come.
Derwent Hunter’s history of marine research extends back 60 years when she was appointed Australia’s first oceanographic research vessel in the 1950s with the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation). During her 10 years with CSIRO, she worked under sail roving from Antartic waters in the Southern Ocean as far north as Noumea and the outer Pacific basin.

Highlights of Her Career Included:

  • Hydrographic work  including salinity tests used for plotting the East Coast current of Australia
  • Discovery of the Derwent Hunter Sea Mount and Sea trench (believed to be  underwater volcanoes)
  • Research and establishment of fishery industries and Whale distribution and migration 

The Tradition Continues

In 2012, Derwent Hunter continues to assist with marine research, guests can get involved and help crew collect data for the GBRMPA Eye on the Reef Program, testing water clarity, analysing areas of reef and completing sighting’s information crucial to maintaining our pristine Great Barrier Reef.

A Life in Film

Tropical sailing on a traditional tall ship is one of the truly great adventures, that has inspired many generations to leave their humdrum lives and head to sea. The eye catching lines of the Derwent Hunter brought her fame and fortune in 1969, when she was chosen by Panama studios to become the “Pacific Lady” in the hit family television series “The Rovers”.  The crew on board the Pacific Lady filmed wildlife for a documentary, whilst having many adventures along the way.
Today the Derwent Hunter is still showcasing the wonders of nature in her ecotourism work in the Whitsunday islands of the Great Barrier Reef, and available for guests from all over the world to experience and enjoy.

For more information visit our history pages at

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