The Museum’s Watercraft Collection comprises of around eighty watercraft, ranging from a freezer lid that was used as a life raft to an Oberon submarine, HMAS Ovens.
The collection is one of the largest in Australia and has been loosely classified into four main collecting areas:
- Indigenous craft representing Aboriginal and Indonesian watercraft,
- commercial boats used for fishing, pearling, whaling, etcetera (these vessels have usually been privately owned),
- service craft that have been used for public service such as water police, pilot boats, fisheries patrol vessels, and
- recreational and leisure craft that have been used for competition sailing or recreation.
Despite these specific collection categories, during the lifetime of a boat it may be used for many purposes and have many owners and subsequently, these categories may overlap.