October 10, 1903
The three-masted topsail schooner Alma Doepel was launched on the Bellinger River in the state of New South Wales in southeastern Australia. This type of sailing vessel was used extensively for trade along the Australian coast, and the Alma Doepel is one of the oldest ships of that kind still in existence in the world. Frederik Doepel, who owned and operated a shipbuilding company in that region of Australia, built the Alma Doepel. He named the vessel after his youngest daughter.
The Alma Doepel routinely transported such goods as timber, wheat, and jam along the Australian coast for a number of years and was also involved in trade with New Zealand. After the produce trader Henry Jones & Company bought the ship in 1916 for its own fleet, Doepel’s daughter successfully lobbied to have the organization agree to retain the name of the schooner.
During World War II, the Alma Doepel served the Allied cause as a supply vessel in Papua New Guinea. The ship’s post-war activities up until the early 1960s mainly involved trade in and around Australia’s island state of Tasmania. The ship was then stripped of her rigging and used as a motor-barge for carrying limestone in that part of the world.
The Alma Doepel was sold for the scrap value of her engines to the Melbourne-based company Sail & Adventure in 1976, but she was subsequently restored. The vessel has since been used as a sail training and maritime education ship and placed on public exhibit. She can be found today berthed at Victoria Dock in Melbourne.