Funding call to repair ‘forgotten’ Falie

Volunteers say an historic ketch has languished for years on a slip at Port Adelaide and are calling on the state government to pay for its restoration.

Feb 01, 2024, updated Feb 01, 2024
The Falie has been awaiting repairs since 2021. Photo supplied

The Falie has been awaiting repairs since 2021. Photo supplied

The ketch Falie was moved from McLaren Wharf at Port Adelaide in 2021 to undergo what were thought to be minor repairs.

But it was found that the vessel required major repairs, which are yet to be done. The Department for Infrastructure and Transport returned Falie to a slip near the Garden Island Ships’ Graveyard, where it remains. 

Built in Holland in 1919, Falie sailed to Port Adelaide in 1923 after being acquired by the Spencer Gulf Transport Company for use in the Mosquito trading fleet, which facilitated trading with remote communities along South Australia’s coast.

Historic Ketch Falie Inc secretary Lyn O’Grady said the vessel played an important role in the state’s history.

“If it wasn’t for the coastal traders, the land to the west wouldn’t have been opened up and the state would not have been so economical,” O’Grady said.

She said volunteers were working with the state government to facilitate access for minor maintenance while the need for major work was assessed

“We’re just doing what we can, but we can’t do any more than that. It’s being forgotten, it’s out of sight,” said O’Grady.

“There’s no funding for the Falie’s repairs. It’s been three years that she’s been sitting there on the slip.”

HMAS Falie was commissioned during World War Two. Picture: Historic Ketch Falie Inc.

O’Grady said she thought reports were done about a year ago on what was needed for the Falie’s restoration, but that the Historic Ketch Falie group has not been kept informed.

“As a voluntary group we don’t own the ship, but we have a vested interest and we’re speaking on behalf of the importance of the ship,” she said.

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“We would love to see her back in the water, and with a forward-thinking plan that she may be able to impart to the general public, as a tourist attraction, maritime history and the importance that [it] had to our state.

“We are waiting for the decision, and we are hoping its going to be the right decision for the state.”

Falie was commissioned by the Royal Australian Navy in World War II as HMAS Falie, when it patrolled the Port of Sydney.

Post-war, Falie transported explosives around Australia, was used for trade to Kangaroo Island and occasionally carried bulk gypsum from Stenhouse Bay.

The ship was retired in 1982, and shortly after purchased by the state government with the intent of preservation for use in community and education.

In 1986 Falie was restored for South Australia’s 150-year celebration, and fitted to accommodate up to 70 passengers, or 20 for overnight trips.

But by 2005 the vessel had fallen into disrepair and was turned into a museum in Port Adelaide by the Historic Ketch Falie Group.

The Department of Infrastructure and Transport was contacted for comment.

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