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After hitting rough waters, this Hollywood star of the sea needs a bail out

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The way forward for a historic ship that starred in a blockbuster film and has been the scene for numerous marriage ceremony events is unsure after its homeowners hit stormy waters.

There was hope final yr that pearl lugger Anniki, sailed by Hugh Jackman in Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, could be restored after it was bought by Cairns-based Pearl Lugger Heritage Fleet.

The boat had been in dire straits after sinking in Darwin’s Frances Bay Mooring Basin in 2016. 

However its new homeowners say they’ve been unable to lift funds, sufficient curiosity, or discover a house to revive the historic boat.

Choices being explored for the Anniki and Cairns-based sistership Antonia embrace sale or partnership.

In a worst-case state of affairs, the 17-metre wood former harbour cruise boat could also be dismantled to finish the partially restored Antonia.

Fleet director Mike Smith has set a deadline of this week to area concepts and gives earlier than additional selections are made for Anniki and the rebuilt Antonia.

An old wooden sailing boat upright in a boatyard, surrounded by other boats. Paint peeling.
Former pearling lugger Anniki in Spot On Marine’s yard on Ludmilla Creek in Darwin in 2021.(ABC Radio Darwin: Conor Byrne)

‘Issues really want to occur’

Anniki, one in every of solely 13 pearl luggers left, is at present secure in a Darwin boat yard.

Nevertheless, the remainder of the corporate’s fleet in Cairns grew to become homeless on the finish of 2021 after the boat yard the place they restored the boats ended the lease.

The port was increasing its Defence upkeep footprint.

“It value us some huge cash,”  Mr Smith stated.

“We had been the unlikely losers and our vessels received scattered in every single place as a result of there was no different for us at the moment.”

He stated the supply of a free roof over the boats may purchase extra time.

“So we’re making a name. We’ve not given up on anyone or something but,” he stated.

“However we’re additionally aware that the longer she sits, the more severe she’s going to be, and issues really want to occur.

“We’re mainly asking for folks to give you some concepts, or if somebody’s interested by buying it and doing one thing together with her or interested by a partnership.”

Monochrome of a traditional working sailing boat under motor near a wharf.
Anniki quickly after launch and supply to Thursday Island in 1958.(Equipped: Household of Jack Zafer)

As soon as they’re gone

Mr Smith estimates Anniki’s full restoration might value between $300,000 to $500,000.

“We do not need to be breaking apart the vessel. However on the identical time, we have to work out how we are able to both maintain the month-to-month rental funds of the boat yard and begin to safe her,” he stated.

A man and woman stand at the bow of a boat
Pearl Lugger Heritage Fleet administrators Mike Smith and Sonia Minniecon.(ABC Far North: Jemima Burt)

The fleet additionally consists of practically accomplished Triton and mission ketch Stephen Davies.

Mr Smith can also be concerned within the wood Derwent Hunter tall ship constitution operation in Airlie Seashore.

“We’re mainly enthusiastic about all these vessels that based North Queensland and even Australia’s historical past,” he stated.

Extra than simply boats

There are fears Indigenous historical past might go down with the ship.

Portrait of man in bright purple shirt under a gum tree.
Noel Zaro says the lugger boats are a part of Indigenous historical past.(ABC Information: Mark Rigby)

Mer Island man Noel Zaro, nephew of Eddie Mabo, stated the pearl diving business was an essential a part of the historical past of the Torres Strait, Queensland, and Australia.

He stated the prospect of dropping three of the remaining 13 pearl luggers that after plied their commerce amongst his residence islands was upsetting to him and his household.

“With no lugger boats it will likely be like a part of our historical past has been misplaced,” Mr Zaro stated.

“You want these lugger boats as a result of the youthful era, a part of their curriculum as a part of their Indigenous historical past, that is the place they need to know the position of the Torres Strait folks in serving to construct this state.”

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