Historical information

This is an original propeller included with the steamer, the 1909 ferry SS Rowitta, which was installed at Flagstaff Hill in 1975 and was enjoyed by many visitors for 40 years.

The wooden steam ferry Rowitta was built from 1909 to 1910 at Battery Point, Hobart, by Purdon & Featherstone using planks of Huon and Karri timber. It was owned and operated by the Tamar Trading Company and navigated the Tamar River from Launceston to George Town for many years. The ferry trip became a favourite activity for sightseeing passengers along Tasmania’s Tamar and Derwent rivers for 30 years.

Rowitta also worked as a coastal trading vessel between Devonport and Melbourne as well as along the southern coast of Australia. The ship had served as a freighter, an army supply ship, a luxury charter ferry and a floating restaurant as well as a prawn boat at Lakes Entrance. It was also previously named the Sorrento by Port Phillip Ferries Pty Ltd of Melbourne and had at one time carried the name Tarkarri.

The ferry was originally purchased by the Flagstaff Hill Museum in 1974 for converting into the historic and significant sailing ship the Speculant, but this didn’t eventuate due to the unavailability of funding. It was renovated it and renamed as the original Rowitta, to be used as an exhibit.


The propeller represents a step in the evolution of ways that vessels were powered.
It is also a record of the Rowitta, a large exhibit at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village from the museum’s early beginnings until the vessel’s end of life 40 years later.
The Rowitta represents the importance of coastal traders to transport, trade and communication along the coast of Victoria, between states, and in Australia before rail and motor vehicles.
The vessel was an example of a ferry built in the early 20th century and serving many different purposes over its lifetime of over 100 years.

Physical description

Propeller, three metal blades that meet in a central boss fitting that has a pointed cap. The blades have rounded edges and tips.
This is an original propeller from the 1909-1910 steam ferry, ROWITTA, built in Hobart, Tasmania.