Historical information

These plans are line drawings by the State of Victoria for a Suction Hopper Dredge, which used a suction pump to bring up material from the bottom of a body of water. The plans are contained in a box from the Public Works Department, Ports and Harbours Division in Melbourne, which in the year 1910 was responsible for the dredging operations of coastal ports and harbours, and inland waterways. The stamped signature is that of Arthur Edward Cutler, Chief Engineer, Public Works Department of New South Wales.

The steel steamer Matthew Flinders was constructed by Morts Dock & Engineering Co Ltd in Sydney, New South Wales. Identified as Ship No. 40 by the ship builders, this dredge, had twin screw engines that were made in Sydney. Its gross tonnage was 1180. It was launched on July 15th, 1916, and registered by the owner, Department of Public Works in Victoria, at the Port of Melbourne in 1917.

Unlike bucket dredges, the Matthew Flinders did not use permanent moorings but instead had bow and stern anchors. It travelled forward on the bow anchor, taking up a strip of even-depth wilt from the bed below. A local newspaper noted that the Matthew Flinders has many advantages that were especially useful for its work at Warrnambool.

Warrnambool Harbour had been experiencing silting and sanding for many years. The problem continued even after the construction of the Breakwater in 1890, which was overseen by New Zealand engineer Arthur Dudley Dobson. Melbourne’s Department of Ports and Harbours sent the new Matthew Flinders to dredge the heavy silting in the Warrnambool Harbour in May 1919. This work was previously done by the smaller dredge, the Pioneer. However, after a month of work, the Matthew Flinders was returned to Melbourne for alterations to make it suitable for work in the heavy seas it experienced at Warrnambool. Both dredges were sent up from Melbourne when required over the years to periodically attend to the silting in the Harbour, but the Matthew Flinders was preferred because of its efficiency. It was still dredging the Harbour even in July 1938. The ship’s original master was J G Rosney. In 1923 the master in charge was Captain Dunbar. In 1930 the dredges were no longer required as the Harbour was no longer suitable as port.


These plans are significant for their close association with the suction hopper dredge, the Matthew Flinders I, which was call upon often to remove the silting of Warrnambool Harbour and allow shipping to continue in the Port of Warrnambool until 1930, when the Port of Warrnambool ceased to be suitable as a port.
The work done by the Matthew Flinders is significant for its association with the Warrnambool Breakwater and the on-going issues with the silting of the Harbour.

Physical description

Plans with line drawings for the suction hopper dredge Matthew Flinders, rolled, in open-top wooden box. Created for the Public Works Department, Melbourne, Victoria. Stamped with signature and dated November I, 1911.
Inscriptions: label on box, handwriting on box, drawings and outer layer of paper. Freighted by 1 Star, New Zealand Express Cargo.

Inscriptions & markings

Signature stamp “A E Cutler”
Date stamp “NOV 8 – 1911”
Label on box "1 [star symbol] / THE NEW ZEALA- - - / EXPRESS CAR - –“
Handwritten on base “PUBLIC WORKS / DEPARTMENT / - - LBOURNE”
Handwritten in pencil on cover paper “MATTHEW Flinders”