A 105-year-old symbol of Australia's heritage has just returned to our shores. The nation's last surviving coastal trading ship, the Alma Doepel, sailed for 16 days from Port Macquarie, NSW and is pictured passing Point Nepean last Tuesday. It docked at Victoria Harbour on Wednesday.
The three-masted topsail schooner, Australian-built and operated, will have a refit over the next 12 months. It was fully restored in 1987 and operated as a youth sail training ship for more than 10 years on Port Phillip Bay.
The Alma Doepel is owned by non-profit group Sail and Adventure Ltd and was most recently exhibited at Port Macquarie. It will return to being a tourist attraction.
THE SEA GYPSY
I am fevered with the sunset,
I am fretful with the bay,
For the wander-thirst is on me
And my soul is in Cathay.
There's a schooner in the offing,
With her topsails shot with fire,
And my heart has gone aboard her
For the Islands of Desire.
I must go forth again tomorrow!
With the sunset I must be
Hull down on the trail of rapture
In the wonder of the sea.