The Lady Cutler was the first of the modern Lady Cutler Class Ferries built to operate on Sydney Harbour. Designed by the Australia Shipbuilding Board and built to Lloyds A1 Standard at the State Dockyards in Newcastle NSW, she was launched by Lady Helen Cutler, wife of Sir Roden Cutler VC, Governor of NSW, on the 10 August 1968
The Lady Cutler travelled daily from North Shore, Rose Bay, Double Bay, Balmain, Woowich and Kirribilly to Circular Quay in Sydney.
Two almost identical sister ships, Lady Woodward and Lady McKell followed in the early 1970s.
After 22 years of faithful service MV Lady Cutler was decommissioned in 1991 and moored in Rozelle Bay. In 1996 she was nearly sold to Hong Kong interests, along with her two sister ships but the deal fell through.
In 1998, The Lady Cutler was sold to West Coast Tasmanian entrepreneur, Ron Morrison, and on sold to Melbourne identity, Shannon Harper. In 1998, she left Sydney's Port Jackson, turned right at the Heads and steamed south to Melbourne.
During the voyage there were hull leaks to contend with and the flexible coupling between the clutch and the propellor shaft gave way, causing the Lady Cutler to enter, and moor, in Jervis Bay for a week to effect repairs, before heading South again.
Over the next 6 years, from 1998 - 2004, much of the steelwork on her hull and superstructure was replaced. However, work was sporadic and stopped in 2004, awaiting more venture capital to bring her back into survey as a cruise ship, to operate in Port Phillip and the Port of Melbourne.
Jeff Gordon & Ann-Maree O'Brien purchased the vessel in 2007, providing the funds to complete the vast amount of work needed to refurbish the vessel.
Initially she was moved from the Maribyrnong River to the Scienceworks jetty just below the West Gate Bridge. Here she was made ready for sea with some of the deck steelwork replaced and her steering and engine controls reinstated.
In June 2007 Lady Cutler steamed to Portland, Victoria where she was slipped and extensive work done on her hull pass through survey. During this early phase Jeff travelled to Sydney and purchased many items from the Lady Street being scrapped in Sydney.
On the return voyage from Portland to Melbourne, the Lady Cutler encountered gale force winds and very large seas in Bass Strait. After 24 hours and a very hectic night, she was off the township of Curry on the West Coast of King Island, seeking shelter from the South-Easterly gale. Heading north back to Melbourne the next day, the engine broke down due to water in the fuel, and The Crew finally anchored 7 miles off Point Lonsdale waiting for assistance.
After an anxious wait at sea off point Lonsdale, with her anchor just holding, MV Lady Cutler was finally towed to her berth at Central Pier, Docklands.
Over the next 4 months her refurbishment was completed and full Survey attained. On the 8th December 2007 she commenced her service life again, as the Melbourne Showboat.
Photos of Lady Cutler Melbourne Showboat cruising from Central Pier, in service December 2007
In January 2008 the Lady Cutler was recommissioned by Lady Joan Cutler, 2nd wife of Sir Roden Cutler VC with some cutler family member present in Victoria Harbour,Docklands, Melbourne.
Lady Cutler - Melbourne Showboat is now in her ninth year of cruising during the last nine years she has held over 1200 events and taken out over 500,000 people cruising safely and enjoyably within Melbourne's rivers and bays.
http://www.ferriesofsydney.com/index.php?board=39.0 for more information
on the renovation of the Lady Cutler.