Historical information

This double-sheaved wooden ship’s block or pulley is a mechanical device used for lifting and moving heavy objects. It has two grooved wheels joined together, each with an axle between the cheeks or sides of the grooved wheel.

Blocks and tackle are included in a ship’s rigging. These pulleys and ropes are used for the mechanical advantage they provide for lifting, moving and re-arranging the setting of the sails, which are very heavy work. Blocks are also used to load and unload the ship’s cargo.

The sailing ship Falls of Halladale was an iron-hulled, four-masted barque, used as a bulk carrier of general cargo. She left New York in August 1908 bound for Melbourne and Sydney. In her hold was general cargo consisting of roofing tiles, barbed wire, stoves, oil, and benzene as well as many other manufactured items.

After three months at sea and close to her destination, a navigational error caused the Falls of Halladale to be wrecked on a reef off the Peterborough headland on the 15th of November, 1908. The captain and 29 crew members survived, but her cargo was largely lost, despite two salvage attempts in 1908-09 and 1910. The Court of Marine Inquiry in Melbourne ruled that the foundering of the ship was entirely due to Captain David Wood Thomson's navigational error, not too technical failure of the Clyde-built ship.

The Falls of Halladale was built in1886 by Russell & Co., at Greenock shipyards on the River Clyde, Scotland for Wright, Breakenridge & Co of Glasgow. The ship had a sturdy construction built to carry maximum cargo and was able to maintain full sail in heavy gales, one of the last of the 'windjammers' that sailed the Trade Route. She and her sister ship, the Falls of Garry, were the first ships in the world to include fore and aft lifting bridges. The new, raised catwalk-type decking allowed the crew to move above the deck in stormy conditions.


This artefact is important as it is an example of the materials and design of late-19th century ship’s rigging equipment.
The object is also significant for its association with the historic sailing ship Falls of Halladale, wrecked in local waters in the early 20th century.
The clipper ship Falls of Halladale shipwreck is of historical significance and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, No. S255. She was one of the last ships to sail the Trade Routes. She was one of the first vessels to have fore and aft lifting bridges.
The vessel is an example of the remains of an international cargo ship and also represents aspects of Victoria’s shipping industry.

Physical description

Rope block, wooden double-sheave mechanical device with a short length of chain attached and remnants of the metal frame. It was recovered from the Falls of Halladale.

Inscriptions & markings