What is Polly Woodside?
Polly Woodside is a tall ship which sits proudly in its original dry dock in South Wharf, Melbourne. The Polly Woodside was built in Belfast in 1885 after William J. Woodside commissioned Workman Clark & Co Ltd to build her. William J. Woodside originally named the ship after his wife Marian’s nickname, Polly.
Polly Woodside sailed 17 world voyages between 1885 and 1904. She sailed Cape Horn – the sailors graveyard, 16 times where sadly lives were lost.
The Polly Woodside was originally used as a cargo ship around the world. From the UK to South America where she was involved in the nitrate trade. She was bought by New Zealand in 1904 and renamed Rona. The ships first voyage was to Australia in 1900 and traveled between New Zealand and Australia carrying cargo of wood. In 1923 was used to carry coal. She even served Australia in Papua New Guinea during WWII. After WWII Polly returned to Melbourne.
What a life the Polly Woodside had before being restored back to her original glory by the volunteers of the National Trust. The National Trust bought the ship for 1 cent in 1968. It took 10 years to restore the iron-hulled, three masted barque. The ship is one of the last remaining deep water tall ships in the world.
What Can You Expect From Your Visit To The Polly Woodside?
- Come away full of knowledge of the life of the Polly Woodside
- Have an understanding of what life was like working on the Polly Woodside
- Learn about all the different types of knots used
Our Visit To The Polly Woodside
When you first enter the museum you can read up on the history of the Polly Woodside. We headed straight to the theater room where a short movie shows the first voyage of carpenter George Andrews in 1904. This is a must see. Ensure you take the time to watch this as it really captures what the life on the Polly Woodside was like. Once again find it hard to imagine life back in this era. This film captures it extremely well.
After leaving the theater room we meandered around the museum reading up on the history. Here you learn how the Polly Woodside got her original name from William J. Woodside, how he chose the names for his other ships, moved to California in the late 19th century when the shipping industry began to struggle.
From the museum we headed excitedly onto the Polly Woodside. Once we were onboard we were free to roam around. We started on deck, checking out the sleeping quarters of the crew and cooking facilities.
We then headed below deck where we saw the holding area which was once filled with cargo. Explored the living quarters. The living quarters for the master, first mate and second mate. These living quarters were quite luxurious. The master had an en-suite which included a small bath tub. There were 2 areas for dining and/or gathering with others to play games.
Who Should Visit Polly Woodside?
If you love history, interested in maritime or World War II then you should take the time to explore this tall ship.
How Long Would You Spend Here?
We spent approximately 45mins – 1hr
Polly Woodside Location
- 21 S Wharf Promenade, South Wharf VIC 3006
- 2.6km from the Melbourne CBD. 11min drive or 24 min walk
When To Visit
Check out the Polly Woodside website for opening times and entry fees.
If you are a National Trust Member this visit is free. We are members of the National Trust.
If you love exploring historical places under the National Trust then recommend you become a National Trust Member.
There are all different types of memberships you can get i.e. household membership.
At the time of purchasing our membership the benefits of the National Trust membership were:
- Gain free entry to the National Trust properties in Victoria and Australia
- Gain free entry to more than 800 properties around the world
- Access to exclusive member-only events
- Receive editions of the National Trust magazine. My Mum received one when she joined up and was really pleased with it as it showed lots of other places of interest to go and had great detail.
- If you like shopping you’ll love that you receive 10% off in all National Trust shops in Australia
Have you explored the Polly Woodside, if so what were your thoughts on your visit? Or have you explored somewhere else which you’d like to suggest we explore?