Alma opens to community

Brendan Rees

Families have enjoyed a “fantastic day out” after the much-loved Alma Doepel historic tall ship played host to a community open day.

Volunteers behind the restoration of the 1903 three-masted, topsail schooner threw open their shed doors to the public on April 24, enthralling visitors.

About 80 people gathered at Shed 2 on North Wharf Rd for the rare occasion to “get up close” to the ship’s masts, spars, galley, blocks, ships wheel and Melbourne name plate while also taking time to learn about some of its amazing history.  

The day, which also celebrated the Australian Heritage Festival from April 18 to May 2, included a barbecue and a chat with the Alma’s passionate restoration volunteers over tea and coffee.

“The day was glorious,” said volunteer Bill Reid, who also conducted tours for people to view the Alma’s restoration progress.

“From the very start we experienced a steady flow of interested people eager to set eyes on the restoration behind the scenes. They came in couples and small groups and some with young ones.”

“From what we learned from talking to them they comprised ex-voyagers, former crew members, Docklands residents and people who had visited another maritime open day the day before and saw our posters or spoke to Alma volunteers.”

“We raised some very welcome cash on the day and signed up a number of new Alma memberships. But we need more money to complete the fit out, so please donate what you can.”

Mr Reid said visitors also viewed a Soldiers at Sea exhibition, which brought to life the role Alma played as an Aussie troop transport vessel during WWII.

Eight volunteers assisted to make the day a success which included Tim Horton, Karin Otto, Colin Lill, Rod Alsop, the ship’s restoration director Dr Peter Harris, Norm Boreham, Jennifer Jaeger and Bill Reid.

The team is currently working on the deck’s preparation among other projects – but there’s still a long way to go with another $1.5 million needed to complete the whole restoration.

To register your interest in volunteering email: [email protected]. To donate visit:


Captions: Jennifer Jaeger and Bill Reid. Karin Otto and Tim Horton.

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