William the Fourth
William the Fourth is an operational replica of Australia’s first steam powered ocean-going paddlewheel ship.
When the penal settlement first commenced at Newcastle in 1801, ships were the only form of transport. Within 30 years the growing coal trade - Australia’s first significant export industry, enabled the era of steam ships. In 1831 - when the Australian Agricultural Company began to have a profound impact on Newcastle, a shipyard was established at Clarencetown to construct Australia’s first steam powered ocean-going ship – William the Fourth, to operate between Sydney and the growing settlement in the Hunter Valley. There were almost no roads, and the graveyard of shipwrecks at the harbour entrance is testimony to the many hazards our local pioneers faced. It’s hard for us to imagine the hardships they faced, but their enterprise and determination developed the characteristics that are still in our blood today. By its very unique nature William the Fourth still serves as a faithful testimony to that tough maritime and industrial heritage.
The replica William the Fourth was constructed as a community Bi-Centenary Project at Raymond Terrace, at a cost of $1.5 million and was launched on 26 September 1987 by Mrs Hazel Hawke. During construction hundreds of people purchased engraved copper nails – still in the ship’s hull, and since then thousands more have enjoyed the experience of the ship whilst learning of our maritime heritage. It operated on Newcastle Harbour and the Hunter river for 14 years until a boiler leak put it out of service in 2001.
A community-based organisation, William the Fourth Inc. was formed to take ownership from Newcastle City Council and complete a total restoration of the ship and return it to service. Difficulty in raising funds delayed the restoration for 10 years but work valued at over $600,000 was completed without incurring debt. As part of the full refurbishment a powerful diesel engine with propeller, as well as bow thruster were installed to maximise availability and overcome the issues presented by steam and paddlewheel propulsion (whilst retaining and simulating the steam experience).
William the Fourth provides the ideal platform to showcase the beauty of the city from the harbour.
It is available as a floating display, a venue for on-board refreshments and functions, and has an operating licence to undertake corporate and tourist charters in sheltered waters. Charters are based on an hourly rate, for any number of passengers up to 54. Operations are available at any time, subject to availability of volunteer crew.
More details are available by contacting us on 0419241731 or email
For more details contact:
William the Fourth Inc.
PO Box 2312
Last Updated Sunday, December 01 2019 @ 12:44 AM|5,645 Hits