The MV Cape Don

1963 - 1990 - present

Ralph Meakins Collection

Photo by Ralph Meakins

Built in Newcastle, NSW, the Cape Don was specifically designed as a Lighthouse Tender, to cater for the technician's specialised work as well as the transporting of supplies to outlying Lighthouses and to transport Lighthouse Keepers and their families to their new positions. Her sister ships the Cape Moreton and the Cape Pillar have sadly already met their watery graves. 

  Following photos by Pauline O'Brien

A small display in the new WA Maritime Museum acknowledges the role of Lighthouses and her role as a Lighthouse Tender on the coast of WA. I have heard of some other artefacts which have been given to the maritime Museum, but which are currently not on display.

The details on the Departure Board are Destination: South Brook  Time: 14.00   Date: (20/28?) or 26/8/1996  Day: Thursday. As this is not a WA location that I know of, I am assuming it may be a destination she had in another of her roles following her decommissioning in Newcastle in August 1990. Does anyone have any more details on the board details? I would like to think it actually was her last trip and not just sone random details that have been added by a well meaning soul.

A hardy group of volunteers were inspired by the call from Frank Alliss in Mt Tom Price, WA, to do whatever could be done to save the Cape Don from a similar fate. The good news is that the Save MV Cape Don Society is actively promoting the dream that the Cape Don will sail again under her own power, firstly by volunteers who gather each weekend at Ball's Head in Waverton, Sydney to basically work minor miracles to restore her pride and sea worthiness by cleaning, chipping and painting any and every surface that can be reached.

What a difference helping out for two days can make!! Interested in helping? Specific skills such as electrical engineering are always of enormous benefit, but for the less skilled yet equally enthusiastic there is always the cleaning, chipping and painting which seems to be an almost endless job onboard. There's a lot of square metres to cover!

Too far away and unable even to help in that capacity? You can always join up as a member, join the discussion group and actively promote her importance as a part of our Maritime Heritage. There is a continually growing album of photos showing the progress by volunteers to restore the Cape Don to her former glory. Any suggestions re funding opportunities are always welcomed by the Management Committee of the SMVD Society.

The Cape Don was officially decommissioned in 1990.  To see more of her operating in her heyday check out the Cape Don Crew at Work

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