Explore the ship that has sailed through the major stages of the Commonwealth’s global history, from the East Indies to the West and finally all the way south to Picton.
See one of the world’s oldest surviving wooden ships in Picton’s Edwin Fox Museum. From its East India trading days and war-time adventures to its role as a convict ship and eventually a freezer hull for New Zealand meat, the Edwin Fox has survived many rocky adventures in the history of the Commonwealth.
The Edwin Fox is a battered teak and saul ship that is now permanently moored undercover in Picton. Enter the maritime museum to explore the decks of the ship and step down its timber hull to see the workmanship that went into building this merchant ship.
The Edwin Fox was built as a Moulmein Trader in 1853 and was the last of its type. The ship’s first voyage took it from the docks in the Ganges Delta of India to London via the Cape of Good Hope. In 1856 and 1873 the Edwin Fox transported early settlers to Australian and New Zealand.
See the relics found on board the Edwin Fox and read the stories of the diverse range of people who have boarded this ship in the past. Among those passengers are the British troops on their way to the Crimean War and later to Bombay (present-day Mumbai). Learn how in 1858 petty thieves and other convicts from Britain were transported to “the colony” on this ship, to serve long and harsh prison sentences.
Naturally, the ship regularly transported cargo too. Because its hull was used to carry thousands of bottles of pale ale, it had the nickname “the Booze Barge.” At the end of its active time, the Edwin Fox became a stationary freezer hulk for lamb meat from New Zealand.
In 1965, the then newly founded Edwin Fox Society purchased the now derelict ship for just one shilling. It was towed to Shakespeare Bay until it could be moved to the sheltered dry dock in Picton in 1999. Thanks to these conservation efforts, the Edwin Fox is the only remaining Australian convict ship left today.
The Edwin Fox rests in the Dunbar Wharf along the Picton foreshore, just a short distance from the ferry terminal. The maritime museum is open daily, except Christmas Day. The admission fee goes towards the ship’s preservation.