Local News

The Gladstone skiff, the Ulla Gundah, is on display at the Lawrence Museum. Image: Contributed

Local maritime history proudly on display

Emma Pritchard


The Lawrence Historical Society has been awarded in-kind funding by the Australian National Maritime Museum to assess and prepare a vessel management plan for a significantly historic Clarence River vessel.

At 5.9m, the Ulla Gundah is one of only 21 Gladstone skiffs built by early Australian boat builders known to have survived to the present day.

The 1930s Gladstone skiff was originally owned by Gerald Commerford of Kings Creek Road, Lawrence.

A keen rower who trained on the Clarence River by pacing himself with the steamers which travelled at a speed of 10 knots, Gerald won many races including the NSW championship, before enlisting during WWII.

He became an ambulance attendant but was captured by the Japanese and died at Sandakan, Borneo, on a forced march.

The Gladstone skiff was later used for training by students at Maclean High School before it was acquired by Ian McLennan who removed the fibreglass shell, with which it had been coated, and sanded back and varnished the outside before donating it to the Lawrence Museum.

Each year, the Australian National Maritime Museum supports the nation’s extensive network of regional museums and organisations, preserving the national maritime legacy, through the Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme (MMAPSS).

Tanya Bush, Interim Director and CEO of the Australian National Maritime Museum said Australia’s maritime heritage is supported by a significant network of regional maritime museums.

“Museums and historical organisations play a key role in preserving and sharing Australia’s maritime heritage,” she explained.

“Through these grants, we are supporting communities throughout the nation to ensure that significant objects are preserved, along with their important regional stories, which are such a valuable part of our collective maritime history.”

Vice President of the Lawrence Museum Roz Jones said the in-kind support will provide a professional assessment and vessel management plan.

“We will be able to act on the recommendations and ensure the preservation of the skiff for the future,” she said.

The Ulla Gundah is currently on display at the Lawrence Museum.

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