Historical information

The beach cart was hand drawn by a team of six people; two in front, one on each side and two behind. The wide iron tyres on the the wheels helped prevent the cart from sinking into the sand. The load of heavy beach apparatus equipment was held in place by a separate hand worked rope net cover. It would be stored in the Rocket House packed and ready to use for practice or rescue.

Beach apparatus equipment -

In the mid-1800s the equipment could include a line throwing set, coiled line in wooden carrying case, rockets, cartridges, breeches buoy, hawser and traveller block, line-throwing pistol, beach cart, hand barrow, sand anchor, crotch pole, and tools such as spade, pick, mallet and hawser cutter. Around the 1860s Warrnambool had a Rocket House installed beside the Harbour.

Saving lives in Warrnambool –

The coastline of South West Victoria is the site of over 600 shipwrecks and many lost lives; even in Warrnambool’s Lady Bay there were around 16 known shipwrecks between 1850 and 1905, with eight lives lost. Victoria’s Government responded to the need for lifesaving equipment and, in 1858, the provision of rocket and mortar apparatus was approved for the lifeboat stations. In 1859 the first Government-built lifeboat arrived at Warrnambool Harbour and a shed was soon built for it on the Tramway Jetty, followed by a rocket house in 1864 to safely store the rocket rescue equipment. In 1878 the buildings were moved to the Breakwater (constructed from 1874-1890), and in 1910 the new Lifeboat Warrnambool arrived with its ‘self-righting’ design. For almost a hundred years the lifesaving and rescue crews, mostly local volunteers, trained regularly to rehearse and maintain their rescue skills. They were summoned when needed by alarms, gunshots, ringing bells and foghorns. In July 1873 a brass bell was erected at Flagstaff Hill specifically to call the rescue crew upon news of a shipwreck. Some crew members became local heroes but all served an important role. Rocket apparatus was used as recently as the 1950s.


This cart and its matching cover is significant for its connection with local history, maritime history and marine technology. Lifesaving has been an important part of the services performed from Warrnambool's very early days, supported by State and Local Government, and based on the methods and experience of Great Britain.

Hundreds of shipwrecks along the coast are evidence of the rough weather and rugged coastline. Ordinary citizens, the Harbour employees, and the volunteer boat and rescue crew, saved lives in adverse circumstances. Some were recognised as heroes, others went unrecognised.

In Lady Bay, Warrnambool, there were around 16 known shipwrecks between 1850 and 1905. Many lives were saved but tragically, eight lives were lost.

Physical description

Beach cart; a blue and white painted, wooden cart with two, red coloured metal wheels. The wheels have twelve spokes and wide iron tyres. The cart has a long draw bar with T- handles at the end. It was pulled by two people, usually steered by another two and pushed by a further two. It was supplied by the Government of Victoria. There is an inscription on the front end panel.

Inscriptions & markings

Stencilled in white paint “G of V”